John 6:25-35 (New Revised Standard Version)
25When [the disciples] found [Jesus] on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Devotional Questions from the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me as I read this text?
What delights me as I read this text?
What stories or memories from my own life do I remember when I read this text?
What do you think God is up to as you read this text? What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?
If you are like me, you have already started scouring the catalogs and ads that are arriving at your house for the perfect gift for each of the people on your Christmas gift list. Maybe you are not, but no matter where you sit on the holiday celebrating spectrum, the holiday season has begun with Halloween, and the ads, pressures, and expectations (spoken or otherwise) won’t let up until after the new year. It is an exhausting carousel to be on, especially when the advertisements, pressures, and expectations collide into a frenzy of what is just too much: too much for our wallets, too much of our time, and too much of our energy. How will we ever get it right?
It is for all of these reasons that I am thankful that the reading from John will be our reading on Thanksgiving Eve and Day this year. I find Jesus’ words in verse 27 especially poignant: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” What am I working for? Who am I working for? Is my work causing me to perish, or is it the very place where I find life? And the best part of this verse? Jesus gives us what we need, and we don’t have to worry about working for it. We have a Savior who comes to us, who loves us, who saves us, not the other way around.
Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me.” I wonder if, during this hustle and bustle of the holiday season, if we forget to stop for life. If we forget to stop, and breathe, and give thanks for all that we have been given, rather than worrying about all that we do not have. All that we do not have that will not lead to life, anyway.
This month, as we plunge deeper into holiday preparations, I invite you to breathe. Write down your priorities in pencil and, if they are not contributing to the life that really is life, erase and reorder them. Take time to give thanks, and pause, and be still. Receive the gifts that only God gives, and, if it is possible, ask for contentment with all you have been given. It is God’s to give, after all, and God is both merciful and generous with all of his benefits.
I will keep you in my prayers, and look forward to studying with you during the month set aside for thankfulness.
Pastor Breen Marie Sipes