August 18, 2024
1 Kings 3. 3-14 — Solomon asks for wisdom.
Psalm 111 — Praise! God provides food…shows power… The fear of the Holy One is the beginning of wisdom.
Ephesians 5. 15-20 — Make the most of the time… discern God’s will…. be filled with the Spirit… make melody to God in yo0r hearts….
John 6. 51-58 — “I am the living bread. Eat my flesh; drink my blood.. and live forever.”
Solomon asks to be able to govern well and discern right from wrong. God, pleased that Solomon has not asked for riches or long life or power, promises to give Solomon riches and honor anyway. Don’t let the “happily ever after” ending of this tale distract you from the real point, which is to seek wisdom and not expect reward at all. Wisdom is its own reward.
“Eat my flesh.” Did Jesus really say this? Probably not. This is really John talking. But take it seriously. John invites us not simply to have opinions about Jesus, but to “eat his flesh,” to let him get into our insides and become a vital part of who we are. In this way we know real life, life that is connected to God, which Jesus calls eternal life. Explore what it might mean to “eat his flesh.” Certainly there are eucharistic layers of meaning. What else? ..To absorb his presence… to imagine his suffering as part of you, and his healing power as part of you, too… to “take in“ his forgiveness and his life-giving energy… to let him live in your actions and words…. I don’t think it’s off point to think of a mother saying to her beloved toddler, “Oh, I love you so much I could eat you.” Whatever that means, it’s what Jesus has in mind.
Exactly what Jesus (or at least John) means by his “flesh” is open to interpretation. He probably doesn’t mean his physical body. So then what? Maybe the embodiment of his love. Maybe his real presence. Paul talks about the Body of Christ. And for Paul the Body of Christ isn’t Jesus’ physical body, it’s the community. We are all members of the Body of Christ. John, writing his gospel, may or may not be thinking of Paul’s language, but maybe he’s making the same point. Maybe by “my flesh” Jesus means his love, enlivened by his Spirit, embodied in the community. Jesus’ love for us is not abstract. It’s embodied among us. In our lives, in our community, we can actually taste and touch Jesus—not in his physical flesh and blood but in the flesh and blood his love has moved into, in the experiences in our lives in which Christ is really, physically present.
“Those who eat my flesh live forever.” I don’t think Jesus means living an infinitely long time. I think he means living as part of something that never dies. When we’re deeply connected with God we participate in the eternal life of God. It’s not the perpetuation of our ego, our own individual self, but our oneness with the Infinite Mystery of Love that is God. It’s love, not your individuality, that is eternal.
Call to Worship
Leader: Gracious God, we are hungry for life.
All: You are the Bread of Life.
We are thirsty for love.
You are the fountain of grace.
We come to feast upon your abundance.
We come to drink of your wisdom.
Alleluia! We thank you. We praise you. We worship you. Alleluia!
Leader: God, Creator of life, bless us.
All: Christ, bread of life, feed us.
Holy Spirit, breath of life, give us new birth.
Christ, bread of life, the aroma of your love draws us in.
The sweetness of your mercy fills us.
The hearty goodness of your presence is our hope.
We worship you, hungry for your grace.
We worship you, to feast on your love.
Leader: God of our Life, we come to you!
All: Christ, the Bread of God, we hunger for you.
We come to feast on your presence.
We come to feast on your grace.
You offer yourself, and we take you in.
Feed our spirits; nourish our souls.
With the sweetness of your love on our tongues,
we praise you. We thank you. We worship you.
Leader: Sweetness of Heaven, all around!
All: Honor and beauty before us!
We are silent in wonder and humility.
We praise you in gratitude and joy.
We who hunger for life come with trembling lips and open hands.
Bread of Life, you feed us. Fountain of healing, you renew us.
Bread of Life, we feast upon your grace
Alleluia! We worship you. We consume you. We become you. Alleluia!
God of abundance and grace, we are hungry for life and love, but we divert our desires to other things. Redirect our hunger, O God, and transform our desires. Stir up our deep hunger for you, our thirst for truth, our deep desire for wisdom and compassion. Our mouths water for your Word. Speak to us, God of Love, and give us the bread of life. Amen.
O God, like the aroma of baking bread, the love of Christ draws us to you. Like the nourishment of a hearty loaf, the love of Christ strengthens us. Like the sharing of delicious bread, your Word brings us together. God, your grace feeds the deepest hunger of our souls. We come to the table of your wisdom, the feast of your love. Feed us your grace, O God. Amen.
God of love, we do not ask you for riches or honor; we seek your wisdom, the wisdom of compassion and grace. Feed us with the wisdom of Christ, the Bread of life, that we may feast on your grace and serve you in faith, for the sake of all who are hungry for life. Amen.
God of life, we are hungry for life.
Feed us the bread of life.
Spirit of breath, we live by each breath.
Help us to breathe deeply of you.
Love of God, we release our desires for comfort and ease;
we pray for your wisdom alone.
Christ, presence of God among us, we give our hearts to you.
Help us to listen, to feast upon your presence, and to enter into eternal life.
Wisdom of God, we come to you. You have spread your table for us; grant us now to sit at the feast of your grace and nourish our souls. O Christ, bread of life, we open our hearts to you. Enter us, become us, and transform us. Amen.
(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)
Christ, Bread of Life,
we reach out for you;
we take the bread of your Word
and break it open, hungry for you.
We taste of your grace.
Nourish us; become us.
Bread of life, feed us with your love.
Psalm 111 – a paraphrase
God! You! Glory!
I thank you in my deepest guts,
echoed by the whole tribe of God!
Your magic amazes me,
confounds anyone who tries to understand.
Your miracles, brilliant and vast,
come from such tender, loving hands!
The universe shimmers with grace,
glows with your gentle mercy.
We are in awe: you feed us;
you are steadfastly thoughtful toward us.
We see your grace in all that you do,
mighty Creator, tender nursemaid.
Your love and justice sing through the world.
When we hear it we know how to dance.
The song is eternal.
To live is to sing it, sing it out loud,
with eyes closed.
The bound ones you set free;
the abandoned ones you marry.
This is your holiness,
what sets you apart.
(Wisdom is rooted in awestruck wonder,
overwhelmed by God.
and you will know what you need to know.)
Lovely One, the universe is your praise.
Prayer of Confession
Leader: Creator God, we confess that we have turned from you.
All: You offer us life; but we have sought life elsewhere.
In our hunger we have been fearful and greedy,
selfish and and hurtful; and we have turned away from you.
God of love, have mercy.
Our hunger has only fed us death.
God of grace, forgive us.
Teach us that our hunger and thirst is for you alone.
Teach us to turn to you and receive life in each moment.
God of life, have mercy.
Christ, you are the Bread of Life. Come and feed our hearts and souls.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!
you are the flower I have walked upon,
for I was in a hurry;
you are the ripe berries I have eaten without gratitude or wonder,
for I was hungry;
you are the stranger I did not help,
for I was afraid.
For all the sins that I know and that I do not know,
forgive me, God.
Heal me, make me new,
and help me, by your Spirit, to walk in your ways. Amen.
Response / Creed / Affirmation
We trust in God, the Creator of all things, our Heavenly Parent.
We follow Jesus, who loved and healed, who offered himself for the sake of others. He was crucified, but God raised him from the dead. Risen, he is the food of our souls. We feast on him as the Bread of Life.
We live by the Holy Spirit, the energy of Christ in our bodies and souls. Each moment, each breath, we commune with God in Christ. We desire always to draw closer to Christ, and to be more loving in the Spirit of God, trusting in the power of forgiveness and the mystery of resurrection, so that we ourselves are the Body of Christ, his flesh and blood. God help us to more freely, deeply and boldly be your people. Amen.
[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”
We thank you, God, for you have fed us in many and miraculous ways.
You give us every good plant for food.
You fed our ancestors in the wilderness,
when you delivered them from slavery.
You have sustained us on every journey,
whether or not we knew it was you.
And so we come to feast on your love,
giving thanks with all your Beloved.
[Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
Hosanna in the highest.
[or alternate version]
Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who said, “Those who eat my flesh
and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”
We come to be part of his life.
We partake of his mercy;
we take into ourselves his healing grace.
He said, “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”
Therefore we are one with his love, and even his suffering.
For as he was crucified yet raised,
we too are raised with him by your grace.
(The Blessing and Covenant) *
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
[Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
Christ will come again in glory.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
Jesus said, “Just as God sent me, and I live because of God,
so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
As we consume this bread, enter into us;
strengthen your life in us, that we may live in you,
and live for you, for the sake of the world,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.
[Spoken or sung]
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]
On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion
God of love, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You feed us with your Word and strengthen us with your grace. Deepen our hunger for you, and grant us faith to feast richly on the grace of Christ. Offer us now as bread for the world, in the name and the spirit of Christ. Amen.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In the bread, in the Word, in our prayer, and in one another, we have feasted on your presence here. And we know your presence in every act of love in our lives. Keep our hunger for your love keen, our taste for grace always on the tip of our tongues. God of abundant love, every moment we thank you with our mouths full. Send us out into the world feasted, strengthened, and generous in love, as the Body of Christ. Amen.
(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page.)
Based on 1 Kings:
Be Thou My Wisdom (Tune: Be Thou My Vision )
Be thou my Wisdom and grant me your sight.
Help me to see by your love’s perfect light.
Love, be my compass, my balance, my Way:
guide from within what I choose day by day.
Grant me the wisdom to seek and to learn, to
pray for your leading and wait and discern.
Help me to listen with all of my heart,
listen for all of the Truth you impart.
Grant me your Wisdom: a heart that’s made pure,
courage to follow a love that is sure.
Led by your Spirit, listening still,
help me to know and to follow your will.
Wisdom (original song)
Wisdom, you are my sister;
let us talk together hand in hand.
Teach me the ways of your heart;
help me to understand.
Based on John 6:
By your grace (Tune: What Wondrous Love Is This)
What wondrous love is this O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
That you so freely give the bread by which we live,
that you revive our soul, by your Word, by your Word,
and by your life in us make us whole.
Our lives we give to you, by your grace, by your grace,
our lives we give to you, by your grace.
Lord, use the gifts we give to help your children live,
that all may come and feast by your grace, by your grace,
the greatest and the least, by your grace.
God, help us die and rise, by your grace, by your grace,
by Christ alive in us, die and rise;
for when we finally do surrender all to you,
you give us life anew, by your grace, by your grace
you give eternal life, by your grace.
Food for the Body (Original song)
A dialogue between leader and congregation.
All: (Chorus)Food for the body, food for the soul,
making us new again, making us whole.
Grateful we are that you faithfully give
the Spirit of love, the power to live.
Cantor:1. Remembering Jesus, we thank you for all that he’s done.
He gives us his Spirit, and feeds us, and makes us all one
in love, in faith, in you. (Chorus):
2. The body of Jesus, broken and risen to live,
you give us to eat, by your grace to become and to give
to all, for all to live. (Chorus):
3. The Spirit of Jesus arises in us like a dove,
to give us the courage to live every moment in love
in you for you, forever. (Chorus)
The Harvest of Your Grace (Original song.
Includes Eucharistic responses to this tune.)
A dialogue between cantor and congregation.
1. God scatters abroad, and gives to the poor, and fills the hungry with good things
All: Alleluia! O God, we rejoice in the harvest of your grace.
2. How blessed the poor, and all those that mourn. “You do to me as to them.”
Alleluia! We offer our gifts for the harvest of your grace.
3. Now come to the Feast. Our cups overflow. With grateful hearts we remember.
Alleluia! We come now to work in the harvest of your grace.
4. God’s grace will abound, in seed and in bread. In joy then sow as you reap.
Alleluia! God, gather from us the harvest of your grace.
5. You will receive, so that you can give, and yield a harvest of good hearts.
Alleluia! God send us to share in the harvest of your grace.
Risen Bread (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)
You laid your life down like sowing a seed;
once dead and buried, from death you are freed,
rising like wheat in the warmth of the sun!
Christ you are risen! New life has begun!
Christ, you are risen, but not far above:
you live among us in each act of love,
in every deed of compassion you rise,
living in flesh we can see with our eyes.
Christ, we are blest as we gather to dine,
strengthened for love by the bread and the wine.
This is your Body, now entering ours,
strong with your loving, miraculous powers.
Gathered like wheat from the fields in the sun,
once we were scattered but raised we are one.
We are the body of your love and grace,
your blest community, your real human face.
Jesus, you feed us, then bid us to leave,
sharing with others the love we receive.
We are your Body, sent by your command,
making love real as the bread in our hands.
Third verse may be omitted if there is no communion.
Final verse may be included with previous verses
or as a blessing at the end of the service.
We Feast On Your Love (Original song)
Chorus: We drink from your presence.
We feast on your love.
This is the banquet we’ve been dreaming of. (Repeat.)
You gather us: no one’s unworthy,
and no one is “greatest” or “least.”
You multiply what we offer,
so multitudes may feast. — Chorus
We hunger and thirst for your spirit,
we open ourselves to your grace.
In flows the mercy you offer
in every time and place. — Chorus
We taste the sweet wine made from water,
our bread is your body you give.
“Drink of the water I give you,
so you may truly live.”
You Feed Us, Gentle Savior (Tune: O Sacred Head Now Wounded)
You feed us, gentle savior, the bread that makes us whole,
the wine of your compassion poured out into our soul.
the food of your own presence, your spirit, strong, within,
the grace that heals us deeply and overcomes our sin.
You bind us, gentle savior, and weave us into one,
one flesh and blood, made holy, the Body of your Son.
We gather here in hunger, one hunger, all the same;
and with one grace you bless us together in his name.
You call us, gentle savior, and send us in your name.
You teach and heal and show us how we can do the same.
So strengthened by your Spirit and nourished by your grace,
we go to be your presence in love, in every place.