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Living the Word

Living Bread
By Verna J. Dozier
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In the language of "left brain, right brain" constructs, the scriptures for the weeks of August call upon our right-brain gifts. We leave the world of what we can see and touch and document and enter a world of imagination and creativity, a world of poetry and emotion.

We pass from the last vestiges of the wilderness and the prophet of the wilderness, Samuel, to the courtly chronicler and the beginning of the record of the Kings. We had begun such a transition last month with the movement from the swift action and immediacy of Mark to the leisurely contemplation of the meaning of it all in John.

There is a world of human experiences in the scriptures and many ways in which those experiences are shared. Let us be open to them all. This is our Story. These are our spiritual ancestors who are speaking to us. What can we hear from the Hebrew record, from the gospel, from the epistle that will speak to us today so that we can, in our own voice, pass the Story on?

August 7
Between Heaven and Earth

Psalm 130; 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51

The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children." No more graphic example of that proverb is given than the household of David the King. David, the winsome, fearless, gifted shepherd boy grew up to be a powerful leader who could rule kingdoms but not his sons or himself.

David did nothing to prevent the rape of his daughter Tamar by one of his sons. But her brother, Absalom, the half brother of the rapist, took his wretchedly used sister into his household and for years plotted revenge. With revenge accomplished, he then conspired against his father, making it necessary for David to flee for his life. In pursuit, Absalom’s glorious hair was caught in a tree, and he died as he had lived, hanging between heaven and earth.

Our lectionary gives us the matchless Psalm 130 to express David’s grief for his son, as it offered to express David’s grief for Saul and Jonathan. But the words in the book of Samuel have entered history as an eloquent expression of a father’s grief: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son."

From that dark, tragic scene, it is a relief to turn to the sixth chapter of John, where we will stay for the rest of the month to meditate on one of John’s great "I am" passages. John has Jesus identify himself as the bread of life while speaking in a synagogue. He reminded the gathered learners that their mothers and fathers had eaten manna in the wilderness and had died. He offers them himself, which they can eat of and not die. Understand-ably, they were confused. "How can this man give us himself to eat?" they asked.

The epistle for the week describes the new life of the eucharistic community, that, week by week, eats the bread and drinks the wine and experiences the bread as flesh indeed and the wine as blood indeed.

VERNA J. DOZIER is an educator and lay theologian in Washington, D.C. She is the author of The Dream of God: A Call to Return (Cowley Publications) and The Authority of the Laity (The Alban Institute).

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