Reflection on This Week’s Readings


A fiddler on the roof wails heavenward, “Tradition, tradition.” The canvas draping a revival meeting tent billows as the choir belts out a favorite rendition of “Give me that old time religion, it’s good enough for me.”

When the formulas we have trusted fail us; when all we insisted was indispensable washes out like sand in the tide; when what we depended on collapses at the foundation; when an inconvenient truth bangs like a bungling thief at the door of our faultless household; when flames turn our monuments into ash; and when we are cast into orbit where we do not know how to live and where we hear voices we neither recognize nor welcome, then our hearts hunger for a day like a day we once knew, a day like it used to be.

The chorus of voices around Jesus in today’s gospel harmonizes anger and lament into a dirge in the key of woe, a reprise of Elijah’s requiem under the broom tree in a hungry wilderness (1 Kings 19:4). Oh, for those good old days when there was enough bread to eat.

With hearts hungry for a day like a day that used to be, those gathered around Jesus could not recognize the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or the prophets in the likes of Jesus, son of their neighbors Mary and Joseph. But it was the words he dared to utter, that one thing he said, “I am,” that threatened to starve hearts already hungry for the God they could recognize. It is the unsurprising shocker that God shows up in the ever diverse, always gracious face of Jesus, arriving in the everydayness of our upsets and convulsions, losses and longings.

Jesus, concealed and revealed, gives the new song. “You satisfy the hungry heart with gifts of finest wheat. Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat” (ELW 484).




Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 12, 2018

In this third Sunday with the bread of life theme from John 6, we start to encounter some push-back from Jesus’ hearers—both the original ones and quite possibly some present-day ones as well. Yet with the challenges are some vital promises of life.

John 6:35, 41-51

The traditional Christian iconography that depicts the evangelist John as the eagle flying highest aptly represents the author of today’s passage. Life in Christ is so far beyond what we can see and know that language fails. Christ came down from heaven; believers will never hunger again; they will not die. We hear the good news of the new life of Christ hinted at in these extraordinary sentences.

1 Kings 19:4-8

This passage is chosen to parallel today’s excerpt because Elijah, too, is called back from death to the life that comes from hearing the word of God. As is typical in biblical narratives, the person alone meets with God but is then sent back to the community.


We have joined with Elijah, running away from death and toward the mountain of God and fed by God’s food, and we join in singing Psalm 34:1-8. We too have suffered affliction; we too enjoy the taste of the Lord. Psalm 34 is an alphabetical acrostic, and so symbolizes the whole of knowledge that comes from eating the words of God. The service of Holy Communion suggests verse 8 as a weekly welcome to the table (ELW, p. 112).

Ephesians 4:2—5:2

In talking about Christian living, the author of Ephesians does not mention, for example, the Ten Commandments, but rather urges an ethical life based on communal care. The passage is not about punishment for those who disobey, but about how to imitate Christ. This is the life that Christ gives in his flesh. The passage includes an early reference to God as triune.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Copyright © 2018 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS103532.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Click here to see our website's terms of service.