Sunday, August 12, 2012

Needing Bread

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
John 6:35-51

• Stop me if you’ve heard this before… (said Jesus, never). Quite the opposite.

 Let anyone who has ears listen.

Jesus repeating I am bread of life…  Repeating for emphasis, for truth, for encouragement. Let anyone who has ears listen. Let anyone who has ears listen.

  Story of eagle, raised by turkeys. Mother eagle knew it would die before eaglet hatched, so it left egg in turkey nest. Eagle hatched with turkeys and was treated like one, acted like one. Ate seeds, grains, grubs, worms. Flew a few feet at a time. No mirror, but a sense of not being home. Visited by free eagle, who frightened at first (young eagle both curious and resistant), recognized, encouraged, brought mice, encouraged, still frightened, brought rabbit, encouraged, taught to fly (bird of prey picking up eaglet and flying! Can you imagine?) and set free.

  Limitations of this story (all of humankind is in this boat), but good points (sense of belonging elsewhere, all made to soar). Jesus guides, frees. And we (humans) are not meant for here forever, but for a time. We set aside what we know, when we see and trust Jesus, who feeds us with kingdom food. Drawn out of our comfort (must God be comfortable? Seminary student: I’m not comfortable with a God like that: assumption that we should find God comfortable)

• As bread dough is kneaded, slowly working its rising, so does God work in us. Our food (bread) is not the bread of this world but divine sustenance. Our work to do the will of the one who sent us (6:38)

• Not one and done, but compelling, drawing. Desire to receive, to understand, to experience more fullness.

• straight into communion liturgy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Are You Here?

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
John 6:24-35

• Why are you here? (worship, fellowship, study, experience/encounter God)
  After Jesus fed 5K… y’all are here for the wrong reasons (stomachs). You don’t get it.
  Be here to encounter. To be fed.  In him is life, and the light of all people.

• Easy and comfortable. Possible to sit and not commit, and become that crowd.
  In western culture we have forgotten about hunger.  Mealtimes are a time to refuel.  For most of us, our bodies are satisfied so continuously that we easily forget that hunger exists at all.  That’s kind of sad.   In a small way, the spiritual discipline of fasting can be a reminder that humans are hungry.  We are thirsty.  In fact, hunger is a painful experience.  Thirst is debilitating.  

They are both experiences of urgent need. 

Food, feasts, banquets, bread, manna, living waters, vines, figs, and weddings are constantly referenced in Biblical stories of the Old and New Testaments.  Why?  Our scriptures are stories of God and stories of us and how God and humans relate to one another.  Time and time again, the men and women and children in these Biblical stories are hungry and thirsty and time and time again, God provides.  The scriptures refer to our physical hunger but perhaps more importantly…  our spiritual hunger.  Why did God create us with this insatiable appetite?  What is the purpose of our being created to be hungry and thirsty?  Wouldn’t the world be a much more pleasant place of hunger and thirst were not part of the human experience?

There is a story of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, "Master, how can I truly find God?" The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, "Please immerse yourself in the water." The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man's head and held him under the water. Presently the student began to struggle. The master held him under still. A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, "When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed -- then you shall find God."

Ahhh, perhaps just like our need for air,  our hunger and thirst are meant to draw us closer to God. 

C.S. Lewis’ one of my favorite all time theologians, the same author who wrote “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” talks about this desire, this innate hunger we all have,  in his book Mere Christianity. In it he notes:  Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. . . .  If I find in myself a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, then probably, earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

• Ann Conf storyteller Ray Buckley, NA from Alaska, who lived in village without pastor… no sacrament.

 Early church would have it weekly or more. Members accountable to one another – if one not fit slash prepared, they wouldn’t participate that week.

• Communion next week. Assignment: go hungry this week. Skip a meal or two. And before you break your fast, when you’re good and hungry, read John 6. Pray for God to bless your reading first.  Pray, read, pray again, give thanks, and eat. Come back to encounter Christ.

• Hymn 406 My Hope Is In the Lord