[This post is the transcript of a sermon I preached this morning at the local Anglican church I attend.]
Today’s Gospel reading is John 6:24-35. You can read the text here.
One of my most deeply ingrained childhood memories has to do with bread. My mum went to work part-time when I was six or seven years old; before that, she would bake fresh bread every single day. So whether I’d been playing out with friends or was coming home from school, as I opened the door I was always greeted by the same thing: the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. Even now, the smell of fresh bread immediately takes me back to the house I lived in as a child, and evokes strong feelings of home, care and provision.
In the mid-to-late 2000s, we lived in France for a few years. On our first Christmas in France, we went out for a walk on the morning of Christmas Day, and were astonished to see the local bakery open, and people queuing out the door to get their fresh bread for the day. To us, this was an unexpected sight because in our experience, shops stayed closed on Christmas Day. But fresh bread is so central to French culture that the idea of not being able to get it on any given day – even Christmas Day – was and is simply inconceivable.
Bread is, of course, a key theme in today’s Gospel reading, which culminates in the first of Jesus’ seven great “I am” statements given to us in John’s Gospel: “I am the bread of life.”
But before we think about what it means that Jesus is the bread of life, let’s take a few moments to review the events leading up to this statement.