The reading this Sunday, in the Common Lectionary, shared by so many churches, is from John 6: 24-35, and ends with the nourishing ‘I Am’ saying:
‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.
Indeed the whole of that chapter in John is a series of reflections stories, meditations, and scriptural allusions to bring out the myriad senes in which Jesus is the Bread of Life. As it happens I am working on a sequence of sonnets on the seven ‘I Am’ sayings which are threaded like pearls through John’s Gospel, so in case it is helpful for those preparing to preach this Sunday, I am posting my sonnet on this saying in advance. This poem will eventually appear in my next poetry book ‘Parable and Paradox’ to be published by Canterbury Press next year. As always you can hear me read the poem by pressing on the play button or clicking on the title.
I Am the Bread of Life
35 Jesus 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.
Where to get bread? An ever-pressing question
That trembles on the lips of anxious mothers,
Bread for their families, bread for all these others;
A whole world on the margin of exhaustion.
And where that hunger has been satisfied
Where to get bread? The question still returns
In our abundance something starves and yearns
We crave fulfillment, crave and are denied.
And then comes One who speaks into our needs
Who opens out the secret hopes we cherish
Whose presence calls our hidden hearts to flourish
Whose words unfold in us like living seeds
Come to me, broken, hungry, incomplete,
I Am the Bread of Life, break Me and eat.