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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 6:24–35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 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.” (NRSV)

I love the etymological roots of the word believe, because they give me a much deeper understanding of what it might mean to believe in God or to believe in Jesus. Believe comes from old Germanic, Dutch, Saxon, and English words meaning “to care, desire, love, and hold dear.” In Old English it had the meaning of “to have confidence” in a person, to have faith in them. It’s also related to the Old English verb “to belove.”

Our ancient creeds list ideas about who God is and how Christ has been—and is—with us, but even they begin in Latin with the word credo. We translate it as “I believe,” but it is related to the words for “heart” and could also be translated as “I give my heart to.” I give my heart to God and Christ and the Holy Spirit, about whom I make these historical, confessional statements.

Reflecting on today’s scripture, when I think about the things for which I hunger and thirst, the things for which I long, this scripture reminds me to wonder: How would my life be different if I longed for God more than I longed for any other thing? How would my life be different if I trusted and had rock-solid confidence in God’s love for me? What if I gave my heart to God and received—believed—in God’s love for me?

This kind of “beloving” is a transformative kind of belief and a healing kind of love. It’s not so much about ideas as it is about the heart and trust and faithfulness.

Gracious God, I give my heart to you. I place my confidence and my trust in you. Be with me today, and help me to remember the bread of your love and the thirst-quenching waters of your grace. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

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