Sermons 2009

Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 14B 2009                                       John 6:35, 41-51

 In a children’s sermon at one church the children were asked these questions:                                                       

Do you believe the sun will rise each morning and light the sky so our days will be bright?

            Do you believe the sky will darken each night?

            Do you believe fish swim in the oceans and birds fly in the sky?

            Do you believe that if you tip your glass over the milk inside will spill out? 

            Do you believe that if you throw a ball into the air it will come down?  (1)


            Belief.  For adults these are amusing questions. Yes, of course, we believe such things – we have a life time of the empirical evidence that this is true and the benefits of education.  But think of it from a young child’s perspective, lacking the advantages of adulthood.  Why would we believe these things?  Did we not puzzle over these things?  Take flying, for example.  For some of us, stepping into an airplane and flying is an act of faith, that this heavy machine filled with people can actually fly.  Indeed, all of the jet aircraft that have ever flown have flown in my lifetime.


            Believing, an act of faith.  For Episcopalians, faith is shaped and formed by our Book of Common Prayer, in which Holy Communion is set forth as the principal act of worship.  It has been said that the Book of Common Prayer is not only used for the conduct of our public worship but also the guide for our private prayer and the source of most of out theology.  This relationship of theology and worship has been expressed in the Latin maxim “lex orandi, lex credendi”,  praying shapes believing, the way that we pray determines the way we believe and what we believe.  (2)


            We Episcopalians are liturgical theologians.  Our theology is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer and how we conduct and celebrate its services.  The theology of the liturgy is primary theology, the language that we use when we talk with God, not just the words we speak, but the entire liturgical act of worship.  The catechism or Outline of the Faith in the prayer book is secondary theology, talk about God. It sets forth the beliefs proclaimed in the Holy Communion, based upon or derived from reflection upon our interchange with God in public and private worship and prayer.  (3)


In our Gospel readings for the past several Sundays, Jesus began to set forth the Scriptural basis for our Holy Communion.  He fed the 5,000, talked about the manna from heaven which fed and sustained ancient Israel during their forty years in the wilderness, and announced that he is the Bread of Life, the living bread that signifies eternal life, the love of God, forgiveness and salvation. 


Holy Communion was fully established in the night of the Last Supper in Jerusalem before Jesus was betrayed by Judas and handed over to be crucified.  In that basic form, Holy Communion has been celebrated by the Church and continued through almost 2,000 years.


Belief.  What do Episcopalians believe about Holy Communion, its nature, and its practice.  Not surprising, there is a wide diversity of belief and practice.  In practice, celebration of the Holy Communion can be very ceremonial and ornate. Or it can be spare and simple and straightforward from the Prayer Book liturgy without adornment or additional ceremony – the way it is practiced here.  Or it can lie anywhere in between.  But all are effective, all are the sacrament.


Episcopalians do not officially believe in magic, in transubstantiation, the actual conversion of bread and wine into the physical body and blood of Jesus – although there are some who do.  Nor do we in general believe that it is simply a memorial remembrance and nothing more – altho some do. 


We do generally and officially believe in the Real Presence, that Christ is somehow mysteriously present with us in Holy Communion.  As John Donne put it four centuries ago, "He was the Word that spake it; He took the bread and brake it; And what that Word did make it; I do believe and take it." (4)


 And we believe that Holy Communion is the outward and visible sign of a spiritual and inward grace.  We believe that it signifies the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, which is our nourishment in eternal life. (5)




1.  from Children’s Sermon, SermonWriter for Proper 14B 2009

2.  Leonel L. Mitchell, Praying Shapes Believing:  A Theological Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer, p.1.

3.  Ibid., p. 2.

4.  as quoted in “Real Presence”, Wikipedia.

5.  Outline of the Faith, BCP pp. 859-860.