Rev Tania writes:
Following on from last week, the Lectionary continues to call us to faith. This week the challenge is to recognise that faith in God’s grace and abundance must lead us to action – to generosity and sharing of what we have received, be it gifts or resources. Essentially we cannot claim to be people of faith unless we live what we believe and proclaim in ways that touch the lives of others with grace and goodness.
In the Gospel, the people remember the miracle of the Israelites being fed manna in the wilderness and ask Jesus what he will do to show them that they should believe in him. His response is to offer himself as the Bread of Life that brings true sustenance.
In the New Testament reading, this same sustaining grace welcomes us into the united community of God, and gives us each gifts that we are to use to build our community up. The second idea that the Lectionary offers us flows out of the semi-continuous Old Testament reading, and reveals what happens when we ignore God’s generosity and grace, and start to live according to our worst, most selfish and lustful natures. David, to whom God had given the most abundant of blessings in every way, used his power to seduce a poor man’s wife and then put the man to death. God does not stay silent in the face of this, but sends the prophet to challenge and confront David. Fortunately David is able to repent, as Psalm 51 reveals, but even this does not stop the consequences of his actions – the internal conflict within his family that ultimately destroyed the unity of God’s people and split the kingdom in two.
The message is simple, but also very challenging. God’s grace is sufficient, and God does seek to sustain and provide for us. But, we have a part to play. As we commit to the unity of the community of faith so we each contribute our share from the gracious gifts God has given us – be it time, talents or treasures. When we do this, we all enjoy abundance and unity and the tremendous life and nourishment that flows as a result. However, when we refuse to do this and make our own personal needs and desires paramount, our unity breaks down, and we all end up hurting and in need. This is a reality that the Bread of Life has given us enough for all in the world, as long as we share what we have.
In Prayer, Rev Tania.