Saturday, February 15, 2014

You Are What You Eat

Readings for Sunday: Psalm 34:1-10, John 6:35-59

You are what you eat.

Manna in the wilderness
came down from heaven
enough for everyone,
a double portion for Sabbath
for the Children of Israel.

They grumbled about the lack of food -
God fed them.
They grumbled about the lack of water -
God caused springs to come out of rocks.
They even grumbled about manna day in and out -
God sent them quail to roast, gnaw the meat from the

They grumbled and yet God cared for them.

They ate manna in the wilderness.
Yet they died in the wilderness.
Because they did not trust the God,
who fed them with bread from heaven,
who quenched their thirst and gave them meat,
who delivered them from bondage in Egypt,
who called them and claimed them as God’s people.

This God who showed steadfast love to them,
they did not trust to protect them
from men like giants
blocking entry to the land God promised them.

So they did not enter the Promised land,
but wandered in the wilderness for 40 years,
forty years of daily manna,
until they died
and their children received the land promised.

Now their children’s, children’s, children-
32 generations later in the Promised land-
at their fill on a hill side.
5000 of them ate their fill
from 5 loaves and 2 fish,
with 12 baskets of leftovers.

They pursued the one who fed them,
seeking more of this miraculous bread.
Then they grumbled when he said,
“I am the Bread of Life,
the Bread that comes down from heaven.”

How can manna come from a child of Galilee,
son of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth?

“I am the Bread of Life.
God the Father,
who sent manna in the wilderness
to feed your parents’ hungry bodies,
now sends manna for your wilderness,
food and drink for your starving souls.”

“I am the Bread of Life.
Eat of my flesh -
trust in me -
and you will have life,
eternal and abundant,
the life God has promised from the beginning.”

You are what you eat.

Your parents ate manna and died.
You can eat the Bread of life.
You can fill yourselves with my life.
You can live.

They grumbled when he said, “Eat my flesh.”
How can you give us your flesh?

“I am the Bread of life.
Those who consume me,
body and blood -
gnawing to get every last bit -
who take The Word made flesh,
into their very beings,
have life -
restored, whole, complete,
all that you were meant to be,
abundant life,
eternal life.”

They grumbled,
shocked and scandalized!
How can we eat your flesh?
How could we even think to drink your blood?

Blood is life!
Blood is holy!
Blood is sacred!

It belongs to God -
and to God alone.

“The blood of a creature is its life;
blood is returned to the earth,
or offered to God” (Lev 17:10-14)

This Word is too hard.
It’s a giant blocking entry to the Promised Land.

And some left to die.

Yet some remained,
some abided with the Word made flesh.
Where else could they go?

They were hungry for life!

And the Word made flesh
remained with them,
feeding them with daily bread -
bread from heaven
words of eternal life.

You are what you eat.

We wondered when Jesus
turned the water into wine,
abundant quantity of the very best wine,
If Jesus can turn
into holy-wine-people.
The very best wine,
Made from the fruit of God’s grace,

Now Jesus invites us
to take his life in us,
flesh and blood,
bread and wine,
to feed on the living Word,
abide with him,
remain in him, 
rely on him,
trust him.

The Word made flesh
who came down to dwell among us,
offered his flesh for us,
offered his blood to us,
gave us his life.

We are what we eat.
We eat the Bread of life -
and we have life.
We become bread.
Jesus pumping through our hearts.
Jesus flowing in our souls.
Jesus living in our skins.
Jesus powering our hands and our feet.

We become bread
for a world starving in the wilderness.
We are bread,
sent by God from this place
to feed those around us.

We are what we eat.

We come to the table.
Body of Christ – Bread of Life
given for you.
Blood of Christ – Wine of God’s steadfast love –
shed for you.
Mercy, and grace,
love and forgiveness,
hope and peace,
flowing from heaven,
For you.

For me.

For us.

The Body of Christ -
This is who we are.

We are what we eat.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Known and Loved

John chapter 4

There's a big assumption we make about this woman who met Jesus at the well. We assume that her excitement and belief comes because she's been forgiven.

There's just one problem....

Jesus didn't forgive her.
Did you notice that?
Jesus asked her to go and get her husband, to which she replied “I have no husband”
Jesus says, "Yes that’s the truth, you have had 5 husbands and the one you have now is not your husband."
And we assume that she is some sort of horrible sinner, a loose woman, sorely in need of repentance.
It’s just that opinion that has her at the well in the middle of the day.
Whispers, glances, pointed fingers.
But there’s a lot of reasons a woman could have had 5 husbands that have nothing to do with her sin.
·         Widowed
·         Divorced – because she was barren, or because her husband preferred someone else, or because she burned supper one too many times
·         What ever the reason, I bet no one was in a hurry to be husband #6
·         Was the man she was living with her dead husband’s brother?
·         Perhaps she had no one, and her only way to survive was with a man, any man who would take her in.
In John's gospel, the only sin is broken relationship with God, which also results in broken relationship with others – the kind of broken relationships that would leave a women ostracized, vulnerable.
What ever the situation, sinner or victim of someone else’s sin or just a victim of circumstances out of her control, she was in need of compassion and kindness.
Which is what she found at the well that noon.
Not condemnation, but ‘I know your deepest darkest pain”  “God loves you.”
Living water to refresh her parched and thirsty soul
That changes the conversation.
Often her next question about where to worship is seen as ‘changing the topic’ - trying to steer Jesus away from the subject of her sin and disgrace. Instead, Jesus’ knowledge of her situation – his compassion in talking to her in the first place, even though he knew all about her – reveals to her that here is a prophet.
Here is someone who she can ask the burning questions.
You worship in Jerusalem, we worship in Samaria – which is right?
Jesus – Word made flesh –(cleansed the temple) temple that will be destroyed and rebuilt – God’s presence in the world:  soon you will worship in spirit and truth.
Her – I know the messiah is coming.
Samaritan messiah is the one foretold by Moses, the greater prophet coming after him; Jewish messiah is the king in the line of David -  Jesus is both.
Jesus – I AM
All those divisions between Jew and Samaritan just came tumbling down. – all are loved by God.
John tells us Jesus HAD to go through Samaria.  From a human standpoint he didn’t have to – he could have gone around, like all the other good Jews did.  But from God’s standpoint, Jesus had to go there.
Compare and contrast Nicodemus and Woman
·         Male vs female
·         Pharisee vs nobody
·         Named vs unnamed
·         Jew vs Samaritan
·         Night vs day
Both have question – Nic never gets to ask his.  Jesus instead tells him:
  • he needs to be born again – a fresh start,
  • hat God loves the world – Jew and Samaritan.

God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn,
But to save – liberate, rescue, heal, make whole, preserve, make whole, restore.
Nic doesn’t seem to get it, we don’t get to know if he does, but it appears that he doesn’t – yet.
This woman at the well experiences it.
And it’s such good news - she runs back to town – Come and see
Just like Andrew to Simon Peter, Just like Phillip to Nathanael – Come and see
She says come and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done – who recognized my pain – who shined light and love into my soul, especially in those corners that haven’t felt either for a very long time.
The people came, and saw.
Jesus stayed teaching for 2 days.
John 4:42  "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."
Jesus never forgave her- but that doesn't mean she wasn't saved.
She got new birth - a fresh start, new life.
This is the world God loves
Not, condemned but saved
      Jesus knew her pain, healed it
      Jesus restored her to community
She was known and loved
We continue to ask questions…just like Jesus and the woman did

We have those places that have secret - and not so secret - pain, parched places thirsting for living water...just like the woman at the well.

Whatever we bring to the well in the harsh light of noon, when we meet Jesus there, we are known and loved.