Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback Sunday 1 August 2021

Services: There will be services at 7.30am and 9.15am this Sunday.  A maximum of 50 people may attend each service.

“What must we do to perform the works of God?”  John 6:24-35

In today’s gospel reading from John 6:24-35, the crowd asks Jesus: “What must we do to perform the works of God?” It is a question we may well be asking ourselves: “What must we do to perform the works of God?” How do we share in doing God’s works in the world? Or, put another way, “What is God calling us to do in our current context?”

Jesus answers them by saying that they should believe in him. He says, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never he hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” The works of God are accomplished by fully trusting Jesus to help us.

In the days following the recent looting of shops and other facilities in our city, bread was scarce and took on new significance.  In the area where we live those who were able to find bread shared their loaves with their neighbours – a wonderful experience in fearful and traumatising times.

The prayer, “Give us today our daily bread,” became a very real one.  How grateful Alison, Dominic and I were to receive a loaf of bread!

But many people go without bread; and through the loss of jobs or businesses people will continue to struggle to get enough food for themselves and their families.  We know that hunger and food insecurity had already been the harsh reality for many.

In this conversation with the crowd Jesus speaks of bread.  We will recall that earlier in John’s gospel Jesus speaks about water in the same way.  In his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus is thirsty and asks her for water. Then Jesus goes on to say that, “Anyone who drinks of water that I give them will never be thirsty.”

In his interactions with people Jesus satisfies hunger and thirst but also offers himself, inviting people to believe in him, to trust him with their lives so that they may do God’s works.

Jesus is now that manna that God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness. In putting our faith in Jesus we open ourselves to know God’s love and care and provision, especially in times of loss and scarcity.

Believing in Jesus, who came to bring fullness of life, abundant life, enables us to do God’s works, to make God’s love real for ourselves as well as for others.

Following Jesus leads us to loving our neighbour. His feeding of the multitudes, which we heard of last week, inspires us to do the same: to be compassionate and to share what we have with our neighbour.

Faith in Jesus empowers us to address the root causes of poverty. On a local level this means tackling the high levels of unemployment, and the gross inequality we have, addressing discrimination and the prejudice and privilege that exist side by side in our society.

On a larger scale it means tackling the ongoing and global root causes of food insecurity: climate change, biodiversity loss, the industrial food production system, or as someone has called it “the corporate capture” of food. In engaging in these issues we are doing the works of God.

Belief in Jesus gives us hope to know that in Jesus hunger, and thirst, are not permanent – that our trust in him inspires us to do more than we can image possible.

Conclusion

Today, let us again believe in Jesus and put our trust wholeheartedly him.

Jesus offers us living bread and water – helping us make a difference in our hungry and thirsty world, but he also offers us meaning and purpose, peace and hope.

As we approach the altar rail to receive the Body of Christ let us do it with thanksgiving, and, in return make a commitment to trust Jesus, believing he will sustain and guide us to do God’s works.

Amen

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:   Account Name: St Paul’s Church      Account Number: 50854628623     Bank: First National Bank (FNB)     Branch Code: 221426