The Rev. Linda Taupier – August 8, 2021
We are in the midst of a 7 week cycle reading chapter 6 in Mark and then chapter 6 in John. At the same time we’ve been reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. .
Paul is teaching the Christians of Ephesus how to live the life of a newly baptized person. The old way of doing things don’t work any longer. Everything that is done must be done to build up the community of the faithful. Hanging onto anger, resentments doesn’t work. They must be ready to forgive as they have been forgiven, be kind, tenderhearted “Imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love’.
Both Mark and John have been talking about ‘bread’. We know that physically in order to live we need ‘bread’, food. As Christians we know we also need spiritual bread to have eternal life. There’s a difference in these two types of bread. The first type we can make from scratch ourselves (or, as I do, buy if from the store) and sometimes a person with skills far beyond mine will bake a loaf for me as a gift. I can touch this bread, break it open, taste it, smell it, and savor it because it’s so much better than my store bought bread. Such a wonderful gift has been coming often as a way for this person to reach out in love and care. Thank you for this wonderful gift. This is a way to be an imitator of God.
The bread Jesus is talking about is a gift that is beyond anything we can imagine. It feeds our spirits, our very souls. This bread is not the store bought type, it’s far greater than that plain, ordinary store stuff.
Our gospel this morning repeated the last sentence of last week’s gospel so it must be important. Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.
John spends these several weeks talking about food, specifically Jesus as the bread. Whoever comes to me…. Whoever believes in me…. These are action words, actions for us to take; come, believe, do. Jesus is asking us to get close and personal with the second type of bread we need; the bread for our souls. Jesus doesn’t intend for us to sit on the sidelines. We ‘practice’ our faith and he’s asking us to come and believe.
It is difficult to believe in something we can’t see, feel, smell, hear, or taste. Right now we can’t see the Corona Virus but we know it’s real. We see the after effects of it and once again need to wear masks to prevent the unseen from reaching us and others. We can’t see wind but we see trees moving. We can’t see the oxygen we breathe but we know it sustains us.
Why should the people Jesus is talking to believe the fantastical tale he’s telling when they know he is Mary and Joseph’s son? They watched him grow up. How can he say ‘I am the bread of life”? They couldn’t see beyond what their eyes saw in front of them. Because they knew Jesus from childhood that clouded their sight. He was no better than any of them. Who did he think he was? Yet the Messiah was right there with them and they couldn’t recognize the truth of what Jesus was saying. They were distracted by what they ‘knew’ to be true. Jesus was talking metaphorically and they didn’t understand. Hindsight is 20/20. We have 2000 years of history and we know that Jesus is the bread that is broken wide open on the cross for us.
Jesus wants us to participate with him and when we stop and really think about it do we want Jesus to be up close and personal? Do we want the living reality that is Jesus? Are our hearts wide open and welcoming to the presence of Jesus in our lives or do we keep Jesus at a distance?
When you come forward to receive the Body of Christ, given for you, what is in your heart? Is it simply a familiar action you do on Sunday morning without really thinking about the Bread that Jesus is? Do you take this for granted? Feel the drama unfolding as the bread is broken at the altar. It is there for us all to see if we but look. Really listen to the words and feel the sense of wonder of what is actually happening. This morning as you come forward feel the mystery that is present in this body, given, broken, for you. This is the grace of God, given to us in Jesus. This communion is a means for God to reach out to us, to be near us. Nothing is more important than accepting the Eucharist life Jesus offers.
Our lives are a journey and Jesus, as the Bread of Life feeds us for that journey. We come, we are nourished to leave this place. Are you leaving Jesus behind or taking Jesus with you? If you take Jesus with you, you might really be surprised at what you see. If you open your inner eyes, your spiritual eyes you will see the needs of the world, right in front of you. Life with Jesus is an adventure. Are you ready to live that adventure? How will you and Jesus work together for the building up of God’s kingdom?
As our psalm said this morning tells us: Taste and see that the Lord is good; *
happy are they who trust in him.
May we taste and see and be able to trust. Amen