Give us this Bread

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I’m the daughter of Christian missionaries and I spent my childhood in the country of France, eating a daily-made baguette almost every day. We had to buy it daily because it would harden by the end of the day and become rock hard and inedible. I grew to expect it and learned to dip it in my morning hot chocolate, and then my café au lait as I got older, and during meals, sop up the yummy sauce on my plate. My mom is also Asian, so we ate rice every day too (hello, carbs!). If the prayer the Lord taught us said, “give us our daily rice,” or said “I am the rice of life” that would have made just as much sense to me as my daily bread/baguette. If we had removed bread and rice from our meals, we wouldn’t have had much left to eat, because the bread and rice were what supported and enhanced the whole meal, there was always more bread and rice than anything else. It was sustenance. In biblical times, bread was also sustenance, a staple – the main thing – in people’s diets. When Jesus speaks of Himself as the bread of life, He means that He is offering to sustain us, fill us up, support and nourish who we are and who God has made us to be. And when He offers it, it’s up to us to accept and take it. I love how the Lord doesn’t only shower us with good things we haven’t asked for (He does that too though), but instead, because He desires relationship and connection with us, He waits for us to choose, to come, to accept and to take His gift of life.

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus said these words just a day after having miraculously fed a crowd of 5,000 people. They were likely already hungry for yet another meal as Jesus was talking. The hunger and thirst that Jesus is referring to in v.35 is not physical hunger, but what us humans hunger and thirst for the most deeply: belonging, connection and a sense of value and fulfillment; you and I yearn for them, and we deeply desire for them to be constant and never-ending. We yearn for them to be evermore. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines evermore as “always, forever, always in the future, for ever and ever, never ending” – you get the picture. Jesus can fill our deepest longings in this way. The Collect says, “Evermore give us…” Indeed, He is faithful and so He will always give, but we must “come to” Him to receive and accept this bread of life. Will we take it?

Will we choose to “eat” the bread that the Lord is offering us? If we do, a beautiful communion unfolds: He will live in us and we will live in Him. 1 John 4 says, “we know that we live in Him and He in us because he has given us of His Spirit,” and His Spirit is who gives us the power to fight sin every day and gives us the strength to love others. That sounds like the kind of baguette that I want to eat every day! I want this kind of bread - the kind that doesn’t harden by the end of the day. I want to feel evermore sustained, and evermore able to fight sin and evermore full of love for my neighbor. During this Lenten season, let us return to Jesus, accept, and take His offer to be our bread of life.

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