Learn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (August 5, 2018).
Season & Preparations
The long season of Pentecost typically works its way through a large, continuous section of one of the Gospels. In Series B, the Gospel of Mark has been our guide. We’ve covered the vast majority of chapters 2 through 6. Over the next three weeks, we have a brief pause from Mark’s Gospel to hear from the Gospel of John. The fast-moving tempo of Mark is interrupted by an extended speech of Jesus known as the bread-of-life discourse.
Preparations remain much the same as the color green continues to be used. If you have any banners that fit with the “I am the bread of life” theme, they would be a welcome addition to the sanctuary.
Readings & Theme
The Old Testament Reading is from Exodus 16, which shows God providing miraculous bread and quail for the people of Israel to eat as they wander through the desert. Despite their grumblings against God and against Moses and Aaron, God still provides for His people. He feeds them. That provision continues in a new way in today’s Gospel.
The Gospel, from John 6, picks up on the events we heard two weeks ago when Jesus fed the five thousand. The crowds follow Jesus in the attempt to see another miracle and get another free meal. A conversation takes place between Jesus and the crowds. Jesus tells the crowd, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (v. 29). The crowds ask Jesus to show them a sign to convince them to believe. They mention the Old Testament Reading for today, how their ancestors ate manna, the bread from heaven. Jesus tells them that Moses did not give them bread from heaven, but rather God gave them this bread. He proclaims to them: “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (v. 33). They respond appropriately: “Sir, give us this bread always” (v. 34). Jesus points to Himself, uttering the first of the “I am” statements in John’s Gospel: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35).
In these two readings, we are shown that Jesus is the bread of life. He has come down from heaven and continually gives life to the world. God’s provision of our daily bread is just that: God’s provision. Without His continual involvement in creation, humanity could not continue.
The Epistle for today continues our look at the Book of Ephesians. In this section of chapter 4, Paul speaks about the necessity of the unity of the Body of Christ. In 2018, it can be easy for us to look at this passage as nothing more than a dream. The current reality of the division of denominations makes it hard to imagine unity among all Christians. We are apt to quote verse 5 (“One Lord, one faith, one baptism”), but let us not forget verse 4 (“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call”) and verse 6 (“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”). These three verses, taken together, produce a Trinitarian argument. It is the Holy Spirit who binds the one body together. It is Jesus who is our Lord, who commanded baptism, who called on us (as in today’s Gospel) to believe in Him as the one God sent from heaven. It is the Father who is over all, providing for His beloved creation. Our unity can only come through this Trinity in unity.
Hymns & Music
The Hymn of the Day is “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” (LSB 918). This hymn draws its themes from the Book of Exodus as the people of Israel are fed by the bread of heaven in stanza 1, led by the cloud and pillar in stanza 2, and led to the Promised Land in stanza 3.
Several Lord’s Supper hymns draw imagery from Exodus 16 and John 6. Consider using “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” (LSB 633), “You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” (LSB 641), or “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness” (LSB 636).
Additional Resources for Worship & Study
In this interlude into John’s Gospel, consider using William Weinrich’s Concordia Commentary on John 1:1-7:1.
If you plan to work with the Book of Ephesians, I also recommend Thomas Winger’s Concordia Commentary: Ephesians.
The Arch Book Moses and the Long Walk may be helpful in teaching the Old Testament Reading for the day to children.
Looking for additional information on planning for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost? Download our planning sheet to help you get started!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.