Earlier this week there was a program on BBC2 entitled WHAT BRITAIN BUYS AND SELLS IN A DAY.
It's in three parts.
And the first part was all about our food supplies, focusing particularly on avocados, grapes, apples and potatoes.
It unearthed a few surprising facts. We export potatoes to Ireland! And we export our largest apples to the middle east!
It made me realise what the global market is all about.
It briefly touched on our supply network.
Everything today is containerised.
We were taken into what looked like a stock exchange with rows of people constantly on a telephone in front of a computer screen, busy ordering supplies from around the world.
And supplies can change from farms in the northern hemisphere in our summer season, to those in the southern hemisphere in their summer, ensuring that our supermarkets can sell us what we now consider essential items for the table, throughout the year.
So it's harvest time somewhere almost every day of the year.
I grew up in Stevenage.
This was in the olden days, before there were supermarkets! No Sainsbury's. No Tesco's. Even before there was an EU.
And when my mother did the shopping she often needed to use her food coupons from her weekly ration to buy groceries that might have to be imported.
Now, along Stevenage High Street is a road that's signposted ALBERT STREET.
When I was a boy there were rows of old terraced houses along the street.
They're not there any more! Everything is new!
At the end of one of the terraces there was a baker's shop with a long wooden workshop leaning against it.
Inside, there was a long workbench running along its length, with a large baker's oven at the far end. And there were usually hessian sacks of flour propped up against the wall.
The door was always open, so we boys would sometimes poke our heads inside and ask the baker, “Mister. What are you doing?”
But what we were really after was a freeby!
If he was in a good mood, he would hand us portions of dough to eat.
If not. Well!!!
It wasn't safe to be around for too long!
Bread is such an important image in the Bible.
It crops up again and again.
It's still important today! Just think of all the varieties of bread that are available in our supermarkets.
today's gospel reading comes shortly after one of our Lord's best known miracles.
There, on the slopes of Galilee overlooking the lake a crowd of some 5000 sat down, and their hunger was satisfied from 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes, with lots still left over afterwards.
And “I am the bread of life”, declares Jesus in today's gospel.
But what does he mean when he says that he is the bread of life?
We ask in the Lord’s Prayer for 'our daily bread'.
We use the words 'dough' and 'bread' to talk about money.
We say we go out to work 'to put bread on the table.
A person who works to support their family is the 'breadwinner'.
Everyday ordinary things are our 'bread and butter’.
Bread is a by-word for something which is essential to our function.
But bread of life?
Well, that's something different!
This isn’t the bread which fills our stomachs. This is the bread which fills our hearts.
Today we celebrate our Harvest Thanksgiving, and we give thanks for those who provide the food to sustain us.
We give thanks for the food we have available.
We give thanks in the Eucharist – that’s what the word means.
So as we approach the altar to receive bread and wine, let us be sustained by that bread of life.
Let us take strength in that encounter with Jesus, here, this morning, in the abundance of his presence.