You probably wouldn’t notice just arriving for worship on Sunday, but it gives us preachers a bit of whiplash.
A little background: The lessons we read in worship are not just randomly chosen, they are defined in a lectionary. The Episcopal Church is one of several denominations that use the Revised Common Lecteionary (RCL).
The RCL is based on a three year cycle, so the lessons repeat every three years. Each year focuses on one of the three synoptic Gospels; Matthew, Mark and Luke, especially during the season of Pentecost, which we are now in and which runs about six months, Typically, we get John scattered throughout the other seasons of the church year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter.
This is Year B in the RCL and we have been reading Mark. Until this Sunday. Suddenly, and without warning, we switch to John 6. At least two things that seem to contribute to this shift. First, a bit of “filler” was needed because Mark is such a short Gospel. Second, John 6, which includes the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus’ “bread of life” discourse, was deemed worthy of some extra attention. John does not tell of Jesus instituting the Holy Communion during the Last Supper. Instead, John 6 is his teaching on the sacrament.
So we are given five weeks to reflect on Jesus’ teaching about the sacrament of Holy Communion as John presents it. To help immerse yourself in this special detour, may I suggest that you read John 6 at least once a week before coming to worship and pray that God would teach you something new about hour we are fed and sustained by the bread of life? I rarely promise a specific answer to prayer, but I am confident God will answer this prayer directly!
This column appeared in the July 29, 2018 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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