“Who Is this Living Bread?” August 19, 2018 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

“Who Is this Living Bread?”

August 19, 2018 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

 

The 9 grain loaf is on the menu again, folks!  Indeed – we have now come to a 4th week of chewing on these grainy texts from John’s 6th chapter.  Each passage we have sampled has had a unique taste and texture.  Today’s is also exceptional.  Up to now, we have had a string of texts working out the significance of Jesus as the bread of life whose self, words and actions – embodied in mere flesh – offer life to the world.  But today, the pattern changes.  We look at how the community participates through the food of our common meal, communion, or the eucharist.

Most scholars think that today’s passage is an add on to the 6th chapter of John, not an original part of the passage.  Nevertheless, as we explore its insights, we glean some astounding learnings.

You can’t blame the Jews or the disciples for being puzzled, angry, and repulsed.  The idea of eating human flesh and drinking blood is abhorrent to us.  It was surely more so to them.  From our vantage point in history, we can understand the metaphor.  From where they stood, with Jesus alive and talking to them, it was very different.  Verse 66 says that from this time on many of his disciples stopped following him.

What Jesus probably meant was that without the closest, most intimate relationship; without a real internalizing of the love and message of the gospel, life will never really satisfy our craving for meaning.  We will continue to search for bread.

I wonder what would turn me away from faith?  Would it be some intellectual hurdle, the threat of physical harm, or the allure of money?

Not only do we need to see and believe but we need to eat and drink who Jesus is.  We are not talking about cannibalism though.  John states it more clearly in chapter 17 verses 22 and 23 “so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one.”

I was reading about the plight of Pakistani Christians.  In that Moslem country, Christians are being raped, hung, beaten, and their property destroyed, because they are Christians.  Yet they won’t change, they stay because they have nothing else to hang on to.  They have bread.

The poet Bialik was raised in poverty.  His single mother worked long, hard hours, often coming home late at night.  Exhausted as she was, she would make the bread for the next day before going to bed.  With tears of exhaustion she would weep while kneading the bread.  Bialik would hear her praying for God’s strength and guidance to rear her children in faith.  He would see her tears mix with the dough.  The next morning, little Bialik ate the bread acknowledging that “he swallowed my mother’s tears.  Part of my mother was in that bread.”

Every meal is a sacrament.   I encourage you to think about some of the special meals that you have had throughout your life.  Perhaps it was going to an elegant restaurant.  Possibly it was a gathering with family and friends and a delicious meal was served.  Maybe it was a meal eaten over a campfire.  Now – think about some of the communion or eucharist celebrations that have been particularly meaningful.  For me, I think of one with a group of teenagers at a church camp.  I remember a communion where I cried throughout because it was so profound.  I remember the first Maundy Thursday service I attended and we sat around the communion table and the 12 of us shared the sacred meal.  There was no doubt that I ate the body and blood, in a metaphorical way, of Jesus the Christ.

Are we hungry enough to taste the eternal God?  Are we thirsty enough to drink that which quenches our deepest thirst?  The bread which Jesus offers sustains us in this world where violence and pain and suffering abounds.  As we cry our salty tears we taste the depth of sorrow and hurt that only Jesus can quench.  And so, we take in the blood knowing that eternal life is the great gift.

It is a fearsome thing to confront the reality of the living God.  It may lead to wisdom, or joy, or praise.  It may also lead to opponents, ridicule, a cross.  What is clear, however, is that we cannot remain the same.  When we come to knowing God more deeply, when we take part of God into ourselves and allow it to nourish us and change us, our perspectives, our values, our joys and our sorrows are converted for eternity.

I grew up in a home where I was dropped off for Sunday School, not taken.  When I was 12 or so, I joined the confirmation class and chose to the confirmed.  It was after my Mother saw something had happened to me through the process of confirmation preparation and the actual sacrament, that she chose to become confirmed.  I was changed, and my Mom wanted to find out what that was all about.

As God’s people, we are constantly being changed.  Day by day we become more compassionate.  We love more deeply.  We hunger for justice.  So, we come to church so that we might be fed.  We partake in communion and feast on the gift that Jesus is in our lives.

The disheveled old lady noticed the young woman crying through most of the service.  She seemed to be encountering a deep, personal agony.

When the communion came by, the younger woman hesitated.  The elderly woman hesitated.  The elderly woman leaned over to her and whispered, “Take it deary.  It’s specially for you and me.”  Amen.

 

 

 

“Who Is this Living Bread?”

August 19, 2018 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

 

The 9 grain loaf is on the menu again, folks!  Indeed – we have now come to a 4th week of chewing on these grainy texts from John’s 6th chapter.  Each passage we have sampled has had a unique taste and texture.  Today’s is also exceptional.  Up to now, we have had a string of texts working out the significance of Jesus as the bread of life whose self, words and actions – embodied in mere flesh – offer life to the world.  But today, the pattern changes.  We look at how the community participates through the food of our common meal, communion, or the eucharist.

Most scholars think that today’s passage is an add on to the 6th chapter of John, not an original part of the passage.  Nevertheless, as we explore its insights, we glean some astounding learnings.

You can’t blame the Jews or the disciples for being puzzled, angry, and repulsed.  The idea of eating human flesh and drinking blood is abhorrent to us.  It was surely more so to them.  From our vantage point in history, we can understand the metaphor.  From where they stood, with Jesus alive and talking to them, it was very different.  Verse 66 says that from this time on many of his disciples stopped following him.

What Jesus probably meant was that without the closest, most intimate relationship; without a real internalizing of the love and message of the gospel, life will never really satisfy our craving for meaning.  We will continue to search for bread.

I wonder what would turn me away from faith?  Would it be some intellectual hurdle, the threat of physical harm, or the allure of money?

Not only do we need to see and believe but we need to eat and drink who Jesus is.  We are not talking about cannibalism though.  John states it more clearly in chapter 17 verses 22 and 23 “so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one.”

I was reading about the plight of Pakistani Christians.  In that Moslem country, Christians are being raped, hung, beaten, and their property destroyed, because they are Christians.  Yet they won’t change, they stay because they have nothing else to hang on to.  They have bread.

The poet Bialik was raised in poverty.  His single mother worked long, hard hours, often coming home late at night.  Exhausted as she was, she would make the bread for the next day before going to bed.  With tears of exhaustion she would weep while kneading the bread.  Bialik would hear her praying for God’s strength and guidance to rear her children in faith.  He would see her tears mix with the dough.  The next morning, little Bialik ate the bread acknowledging that “he swallowed my mother’s tears.  Part of my mother was in that bread.”

Every meal is a sacrament.   I encourage you to think about some of the special meals that you have had throughout your life.  Perhaps it was going to an elegant restaurant.  Possibly it was a gathering with family and friends and a delicious meal was served.  Maybe it was a meal eaten over a campfire.  Now – think about some of the communion or eucharist celebrations that have been particularly meaningful.  For me, I think of one with a group of teenagers at a church camp.  I remember a communion where I cried throughout because it was so profound.  I remember the first Maundy Thursday service I attended and we sat around the communion table and the 12 of us shared the sacred meal.  There was no doubt that I ate the body and blood, in a metaphorical way, of Jesus the Christ.

Are we hungry enough to taste the eternal God?  Are we thirsty enough to drink that which quenches our deepest thirst?  The bread which Jesus offers sustains us in this world where violence and pain and suffering abounds.  As we cry our salty tears we taste the depth of sorrow and hurt that only Jesus can quench.  And so, we take in the blood knowing that eternal life is the great gift.

It is a fearsome thing to confront the reality of the living God.  It may lead to wisdom, or joy, or praise.  It may also lead to opponents, ridicule, a cross.  What is clear, however, is that we cannot remain the same.  When we come to knowing God more deeply, when we take part of God into ourselves and allow it to nourish us and change us, our perspectives, our values, our joys and our sorrows are converted for eternity.

I grew up in a home where I was dropped off for Sunday School, not taken.  When I was 12 or so, I joined the confirmation class and chose to the confirmed.  It was after my Mother saw something had happened to me through the process of confirmation preparation and the actual sacrament, that she chose to become confirmed.  I was changed, and my Mom wanted to find out what that was all about.

As God’s people, we are constantly being changed.  Day by day we become more compassionate.  We love more deeply.  We hunger for justice.  So, we come to church so that we might be fed.  We partake in communion and feast on the gift that Jesus is in our lives.

The disheveled old lady noticed the young woman crying through most of the service.  She seemed to be encountering a deep, personal agony.

When the communion came by, the younger woman hesitated.  The elderly woman hesitated.  The elderly woman leaned over to her and whispered, “Take it deary.  It’s specially for you and me.”  Amen.

 

 

 

Advertisements