Yesterday was my last Sunday on vacation. The parish was blessed to have Fr. Warren Shoberg, SSC as celebrant and preacher.
Recently retired from Church of the Holy Apostles across town, Fr. Shoberg is a faithful Anglo Catholic priest. One of the great joys when I first arrived in Sioux Falls was to begin most weekdays with Matins at his chapel. For several months, we were joined by Fr. Ron Hennies and Fr. David Handy (known to the blogosphere as "New Reformation Advocate"). Fr. Ron & his wife moved to New Mexico to be near their grown kids, and he's since become a priest in the Orthodox Church. Fr. David was in Sioux Falls to be with his mother in her last months of this life. He's since gone back East and recently transferred his ministry to the Anglican Church in North America.
Ah, but how rich it was for a little while to have Reformed, Catholic and Orthodox leaning Christians at Common Prayer. (Sorry, no full blown Charismatic, but we preferred grace to tokenism. Fr. Handy did, however, come to Good Shepherd one Sunday and serve with me as we offered laying on of hands and anointing for healing at the altar.) A glimpse of what Anglicanism used to be about before those great spiritual traditions were put aside for the emptiness of Liberal Protestant culture worship.
Fr. Shoberg was kind enough to send yesterday's sermon outline to our parish webmaster, and I share it with you here as well. I was gratified to run into a couple of parishioners at the market later, and hear their thanksgiving for a good message, delivered with depth and warmth.
10 Pentecost (Proper 14B)
Fr. Warren Shoberg
Jesus said: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
I. A review of this important series of passages in the lectionary.
A. John’s method of relating this episode.
*Feeding the 5,000
*Going to Capernaum
*Questioning by the crowd
*When did you come here?
*You look for me because you had your fill of the loaves.
*Do not work for the food that perishes but that which endures for eternal life.
B. What must we do to perform the works of God?
*Age old question, what must we do to belong?
*Jesus says "You must believe in him whom he has sent.
*What sign are you going to give us? What work are you performing?
*Moses did not give bread from heaven, but the heavenly father did.
*The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
*"I am the bread of Life."
C. Today the discourse continues
*Christ pronounces a formula
*The hearers misunderstand
II. Explanations raise new questions sometimes protests.
A. Jesus continues despite the misunderstandings/protests because he must speak the truth.
1. Progression leads to the summit in two weeks when all who hear must choose to follow Christ or leave him.
*"I am the bread that came down from heaven."
*Provokes strong reaction
*We know his father and mother, how can he have come down from heaven?
B. Jesus can be admired and followed because of his works and words.
*To accept him as coming from heaven is a matter of faith.
*Faith does not come from evidence or logical conclusions nor from irresistible force of works and miracles.
*Jesus knows this and continues.
*"No one can come to me unless drawn by the father who sent me."
III. Faith is a gift from the Father.
A. It is not a present received by certain persons and not by others
*It is akin to love.
*To believe and love go hand in hand.
*One is caught or suddenly seized and resists or is incapable of resisting.
*Gift of faith is received from one’s own free will and with thanksgiving.
*To believe is to allow oneself to be drawn by him who alone is infinitely worthy of love.
*"Do not complain among yourselves."
*God cannot coerce one to become attached to him.
B. When we love someone we find it impossible to believe that all do not have the same attraction.
*It is so and nothing we can do or say will change a persons opinion in this regard.
*In spite of all the good things we may say about the loved one, it remains that others must be seized in order to love.
*This is why Christians have no right to despise or judge non-believers but must humbly pray that all humans be drawn to Christ by the Father
*Isaiah 54:13 — "All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the prosperity of your sons."
*Jeremiah 31:33-34 — "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
C. Time is now because Jesus is the Word of God
*No one has seen God except him who came from his side.
*Whoever listens to God receives his Son’s teaching.
*Ultimate fulfillment of faith in God is faith in Christ in the same way as Christ leads to faith in the Father.
*Whoever comes to Jesus and recognizes in him the one sent by the Father, who receives the Word, already has eternal life.
D. Faith is not merely assent to a certain teaching, it is intimate adherence of the whole being to a person.
*It is a vital communion to be understood in the most concrete way.
*It is participation in the life of God – eternal life – assured by a certain food.
*In the desert God gave his children manna which sustained their life during their years of wandering, but was perishable food and those who ate it died.
*Jesus declares that he is the food offered to those who believe in him, a food that does not decay and that really confers eternal life to those who eat it.
*"I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever."
E. Our faith in Jesus is shown in many ways
*In the way we worship
*In the way we care for others
*In the way we grow in our faith
F. Paul reminds us today that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
*We are God’s beloved children.
*We are to put away bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander.
*We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
*We are to live in love as Christ loved us.
The risen Christ is the bread that every day restores our strength to get up and get going. Amen