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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 6:41–51

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (NRSV)

The book Obama: An Intimate Portrait compiles three hundred photos taken by Pete Souza, the chief official White House photographer during Barack Obama’s presidency. Many of them depict historic moments: world summit meetings, intense conversations in the Situation Room or Oval Office, addressing Congress. More surprising are intimate moments. Obama holding hands in prayer with family around the bed of a wounded soldier. Playing in a snowstorm with his daughters. Laughing with staff about colorful batik shirts worn by previous presidents. Eating a green tea ice cream bar with two Japanese women. Coaching Sasha’s basketball team. Leaning down to hear an elderly mother in a wheelchair, whose daughter died in the church bombing in Birmingham. Many depict his interactions with young children: crawling on the floor; getting “zapped” by a three-year-old dressed as Spiderman; and the well-known photo of five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia rubbing Obama’s head so he could feel for himself that the president’s hair felt like his own. We all treasure finding something familiar, or in common with, another human being. These photos “humanize” the person who once held the most powerful position in the most powerful country of the world.

One great mystery about Jesus is that he embodied the Divine as a fully human being. This repelled some. After Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” others complained, “Who does this guy think he is? We know where he came from; we know his parents.” How could someone so familiar claim such eternal truths? It’s not easy to understand the incarnation. Yet at the same time, I sense the Divine most in precisely the most human interactions—when compassionate, intimate moments of connection happen.

Thank you, God, for becoming human like me so I can know and love you. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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