Jon's Last Sermon
Earlier this week I preached my final sermon as Assistant Curate at St Francis. I preached it at the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday services. The Gospel Reading was John 6.24-35 . A few people have asked me for the text of it so I thought I would include it in the e-bulletin this week. As always with a sermon text it is a little non-grammatical as it was written for me to read out loud rather than to be read. However, here is it!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This is my final sermon at St Francis, albeit not the last time I shall preach it here. On this kind of occasion, it’s always a bit of a lottery as to what readings you have to work with.
We could have done a lot worse that Jesus telling us that it is he who is the bread of life. Whoever comes to him will never be hungry.
Christ feeds us with his very self. Not merely in a physical sense, indeed I doubt there is much nutritional content to our Communion bread, but also in our inner spirit.
We become numb to the strangeness and profundity of this belief – that we know ourselves to be fed at the hand of the one whose hands flung stars into space. But it is one of those dispositions, one of those attitudes that changes everything.
That our inner food comes not from an inner strength we may either possess or not, nor from objects or activities we must pay for – but rather that it is all a gift of the God who made us and loves us… if we grasp this it changes things.
But we can go a step further – because, thought of like this, it is not only our inner feeding that God accomplishes – everything, all of it, is the gift of God. The soft and gentle breeze on the face, the fruit in the hedgerows, the water from the spring, the Sun that warms the earth – all of it, every last gram of matter every last joule of energy, all of it, finds it’s source in our source, the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist.
And it is all a gift, not in the sense that is ours now, so we can use it or misuse it as we see fit, but rather as something precious, to be cherished – something we care for and are inwardly and outwardly nourished by.
This worldview, this seeing life as a gift, takes work – or at least in my case a lot of reminding – but it trains our hearts to gratitude. If we understand every good thing not as earned by the sweat of our brow, but rather as a gift - we move away from feeling merely proud of ourselves, to being also grateful… To giving thanks for all things.
And this feels like a good place to end, a good set of last words, a good parting shot… Simply to say that all of this has been such a gift and to say thank you. Not only to you, but to the God who is the reason we are here, in every sense.
The central act of our faith we call the Eucharist – literally the Thanksgiving. It is central for a reason, Christ’s feeding us with the bread of life and our duty and joy to give God thanks always and everywhere are all tied up – it is our privilege, our purpose, our prayer. It is quite simply what Christians do.
So for all that has been and all that will be, let us give thanks together.