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God is Near

This is a sermon that I preached on Sunday, 8/8/21, at Berkeley Friends Church (via videoconference). The scripture reading for this sermon was: John 6:35, 41-51. You can listen to the audio, or keeping scrolling to read my manuscript. (The spoken sermon differs from the written text.)

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God is near to us. He’s at the front door, knocking for us to let him in. He’s at the dinner table with us, breaking the bread and pouring the wine.

Jesus is the bread of life. God is near to us, because when we eat this bread, when we receive Jesus within us, we will never be hungry again. We will never be thirsty again. We will never die. Because the life that is in us is the life that was with the Father from the beginning.

Do you remember what God did for the Israelites, in the desert, after he delivered them from slavery in Egypt? Do you remember how he led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Do you remember how he fed them with manna from heaven, and quenched their thirst with water from the rock?

Jesus is the new manna. He is the bread from heaven that God sends to fill and sustain us on our journey together through our own wilderness. Jesus is the rock. He is the water, springing within us like a well, until we are completely restored.

Jesus is the bread. He is the wine. He is the water and the rock.

Jesus is God with us.

He is near to us. He is within us. He’s inside us. Ordinary water, you have to drink. But this water comes from within. He gushes up from inside us, filling us with goodness. Jesus transforms us. When we have eaten the bread of his body, we become like him, and we give life to others.

God is near. Closer to us than we are to ourselves. Because he has sent us the bread from heaven. Because Jesus is the house of God, with angels ascending and descending. Because the one God promised has come and is risen. We will never be abandoned. The Spirit of God is among us; the living Jesus stands in the midst.

Feeding us. Guiding us. Protecting us with his shepherd’s staff.

The word of God is near to you – Jesus is in your mouth and in your heart. Like bread, like wine, like a great wind, and like fire. Like a still, small voice.

God is here. We show up because he shows up. Because we are the sheep who hear and recognize the voice of the shepherd.

We are gathered together in the presence of Jesus to be fed by him. To eat his body and drink his blood. To feast on the word of God. And by his grace and power, to keep it.

In the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Come to Jesus. Come to the rock. Come to the spring of water that gives overflowing life. Come to the bread from heaven, that we may eat of it and never die.