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Sunday, August 19, 2018
Today’s Scripture Reading | John 6:52–58
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (NRSV)
This was the gospel at my dad’s funeral on November 16, 1999. Sad to say, I don’t remember anything about its proclamation or what was said of it.
I do remember, however, the process of choosing this passage in the funeral planning meeting I had with the pastoral associate at my home parish. It was undoubtedly one of the passages presented from the book of rituals for funerals. And though I have taken whole classes on the Gospel of John, read many books and written multiple papers on its themes and symbols, I still don’t really understand it very much at all.
But it was absolutely the right choice, because my dad did. Though I don’t recall doing “faith sharing” with him, even once, I had thirty-six years to observe how he lived this, what it meant to him, and how he saw passing it on as one of his primary duties as a parent. While the adolescent me was jealous of the kids whose “cool” parents let them sit wherever they wanted in church, I knew better than to ask to go sit by my friends. Dad believed in eating together, whether the table was at home or in church. The Bread of Life sustained and nourished him. I regret that I never asked him to articulate how or why. But I know it did, because I saw his fidelity to the common meal and sometimes his hunger. The promise of eternal life, too, was real and reliable. He counted on it, especially in the last ten years of his life, made maddening and difficult by dementia.
Dad will be raised up on the last day. And oh, what a banquet that will be.
Bread of Life, thank you for feeding us with your very self. Thank you, especially, for all who have invited us to the table and shown us the way. Amen.
Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning
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