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The Revised Common Lectionary continues the theme of bread in this week’s reading from John. In today’s passage, Jesus calls his own body and blood the bread from heaven, which will grant eternal life. These words must have sounded strange to Jesus’ Jewish followers, who would have followed strict dietary laws regulating which types of meat were fit for human consumption, and forbidding any eating of blood at all. Why does Jesus choose this analogy? Minimally, it seems that anyone who still followed him after this must have been aware that his movement would mean something totally different from what they had expected of a messiah.

Looking at the world today, it seems that many people are following the partial quote from Joshua this week. As for me and my household…

We will get vaccinated.
We will not wear masks.
We will reduce our fossil fuel consumption.
We won’t give up our handguns.
We will work for justice.
We will not change our opinions.

In short – so many in the world today are saying, as for me and my household (Joshua 24:15), we will do what is right in our own eyes (Judges 17:6 & 21:25).  

In Joshua, all the leaders of Israel are gathered together to hear the word of the Lord, and are challenged to follow the God who liberated them from Egypt. When our leaders are gathered together, to what or whom do they pledge allegiance? How do our faith communities finish the sentence, “as for me and my household”? At risk of sounding trite – what would Jesus do? As Christians, what are we and our households called to do in order to most closely follow the word of God? The Bible doesn’t talk specifically about global pandemics or climate change or modern weapons or carbon footprints… so we are left to interpret for ourselves how God’s word applies to our current context.

The reading from Ephesians offers concrete imagery for how to be “strong in the Lord.” The epistle is preparing people for spiritual battle, but the words can also be applicable to a daily life of faith. What would it look or feel like to go about your day with a belt of truth around your waist? How would that change the way you interact with others? What would being clothed in the armor of God look like for an entire faith community?

As ever, there are countless possible directions for a sermon this week. Please share your ideas and questions below. Thanks for your insights on this week’s texts! Happy writing.

Katya Ouchakof is living the bivocational professional life, serving as a hospital chaplain and a paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA).

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