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Bountiful Bread

We are pleased to share with you this devotion from our Advent series.  May it bless you this Christmas eve.  

What is your favorite meal during the Christmas season? Imagine spending Christmas in hunger instead of eating your favorite dishes. Lack of sufficient food is experienced by 2.37 billion people in our world today. (SOFI 2021: The Status of the World (FAO) Food Security and Nutrition in the World)  It is in this context of hunger that Jesus speaks his identity and mandate in John 6:35, saying, “I am the Bread of Life.” It is also in this context that World Renew responds with improved food security, advocates for policy changes affecting hunger, provides humanitarian assistance, and implements holistic community transformation programs in communities of hunger.

Jesus was concerned about the whole person.

In John 6, Jesus has just fed a crowd of people in a miraculous way from five small loaves of bread and fish. Then when they continue to follow him as if to get another free meal, he reminds them to labor for the food that endures into eternal life, which he as Savior can give. He tells them, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never go hungry, and those who believe in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)  Later he tells the crowd that while their ancestors had manna in the desert, yet died, he is the bread of life that came from heaven to give life eternal.  

While some may use these passages to prioritize sharing the gospel as spiritual food over sharing physical food, this is an unfortunate split of our full humanity. Jesus was concerned about the whole person. His emphasis on being the Bread of Life was a message that he was essential for life, all of life! By offering the “bread of his flesh” (John 6:51) and dying to redeem the whole world (cosmos), he reconciled all things that were broken including the relationships humans have with creation, with God, with each other and even with their own self. This complete restoration is shalom. This is why Jesus fed people physically, because food is essential for life. He fed people spiritually because truth is essential for life. He fed people emotionally because love is essential for life. Thus, his desire is that our Christian witness is holistic too.  

It is a reminder that each of us are created with gifts of God to share with the people of God.

One of the most striking examples of this holistic approach was when Jesus broke bread with his disciples to remind them that his body would be broken for the redemption and restoration of all things in heaven and earth. The meal he had together with them, and that we celebrate as communion, is a recognition that we all need restoration which is found in Christ alone. It is an invitation to “eat” the bread of Christ because he is the one who can resource us with all we need to meet our need for restoration and renewal as individuals and as a world. It is a reminder that each of us are created with gifts of God to share with the people of God. Our gifts from him are holistic too. Spiritual and emotional gifts of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, and self-control can restore relationships. Physical gifts of food and wealth can be shared for the common good, alleviating hunger and poverty to ensure justice for all. 

Ultimately, what we share with those who suffer from poverty, injustice, and disasters is what we are doing for Jesus because all people are a part of his body. Sharing his “bread” is the way to know and experience his love. When we are compelled by Christ’s compassion, we cannot help but make ourselves poor and hungry by giving to others so that more people may believe that God’s love is real. Do you feel bountifully fed by Jesus as the Bread of Life?  What will you share today of his amazing and bountiful bread?

Prayer: Bread of Life, feed us with all that we need for life. Show us how to share your bountiful bread and all the gifts we receive from you with others so that more people may experience the fullness of your love, mercy and justice today. We know when we give to the “least of these,” we give to you. Forgive us for the way we hoard and hold onto your “bread” instead of sharing it. You have given far more than we need and we thank you. May our generosity towards others show how thankful we truly are. In your name we pray, Amen!

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