Posts Tagged ‘Living Bread’

I Have Come For the Food 8-16-15

In this sermon, based on John 6:51-58, I explore what Jesus is really talking about when he talks about his body and blood being real food and drink. I also discuss how this life changing reality of Christ finds us where we are.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/i-have-come-for-the-food-8-16-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

So after having been gone on vacation for the past two weeks, I’ve been finding myself in the odd mode of trying to get back into the normal swing of things. Setting alarms, time in the office, household chores…lot of things of that nature.

Additionally, with summer winding down and the school year looming, I’ve been noticing some things here in town that are a little out of the ordinary…like bumping into Jr and Senior High cross country runners when I’m out for my morning jog…or hearing the wonderful sounds of marching band camp drifting down the hill from the high school.

But perhaps the strangest adjustment that I’ve been dealing with the past 7 days since we got home has been the feeling of being hungry. (pause) As per usual, during the second half of our family vacation this year we were at family camp at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Bible Camp in the mountains of Southern Colorado…and among the multitude of wonderful aspects that we experience while we are on the mountain, there are two that really stand out. The first is the overabundance of amazing views. Mountains, valleys, amazingly colorful sunrises, blazing starfilled night skies…the views are endless…and admittedly I can’t do them justice by just talking about them…but one blessing has been the fact that Jay and Linda Ackland visited Rainbow Trail about a week before we got there so they could see their granddaughter who is on the summer staff…and so at least two other people here at Underwood have now seen what we see every year…and we can sit and talk about it together.

Now the second amazing aspect of family camp at Rainbow, is an overabundance of amazing food….and when I say overabundance, I mean it…You don’t have time to get hungry. Breakfast 8am…a huge spread…then there’s snacks at 10:15, typically a mixture of fruit along with cookies or other assorted baked goodness. Next is lunch at noon…afternoon snacks available in the camp store…supper comes up at 6…and the evening is capped off with various goodies that show up during whatever camp activity is happening that day…oh not to mention chips and salsa in the main lodge for the adults once the kiddos are tucked into bed.

You eat all day…and you don’t have to think about it…it just shows up…but then we got home, and I got back into my normal routine where breakfast typically consists of a cup of coffee…and so each and every day this week, as lunch time approaches, my stomach has been rumbling…and admittedly its been a little disconcerting for me.

I was thinking about that very thing late morning on Friday as I was starting to work on this message, and then I remembered a brief snippet from a wonderful movie…A Muppet Christmas Carol…when Gonzo reports “I have come to tell a story.” Immediately followed up by Rizzo the Rat reporting “And I have come for the food.” (pause) And that, my friends, is where my brain finally managed to enter into the gospel story for today.

If you’ve noticed, we’ve been stuck in John chapter 6 for several weeks now. The lectionary takes this time in late summer to fill out the shorter aspect of Mark’s gospel with 5 consecutive weeks in John 6…allowing us the continued opportunity to try and make heads or tails of just what Jesus is accomplishing when he feeds the 5000 with the loaves and fish…and then proceeds to spend the entire rest of a rather lengthy chapter continuing to talk about it…a chapter known in the scholarly circles as the bread of life discourse…essentially, as is common in John’s gospel…Jesus performs a miracle…and then he talks about it at great length…and just as we struggle to wrap our minds around just what is going on…often times we find that the people who witnessed the miracles…those sitting there listening to Jesus explain himself…well they struggle just as much as we do. (pause)
Now as per usual…when Jesus does something miraculous…it tends to attract a crowd and this one is of course, no different…as the great crowds of people continue to follow Jesus around throughout the entirety of John 6…and they continue to hound Jesus wherever he ends up…until at one seemingly exasperated moment He barks at them “You aren’t looking for me because of a miracle…you’re hanging around because you ate your fill…you ate of the abundance that I provided.” Might as well be Rizzo the Rat as Jesus calls them out “You are just here for the food.” (pause)

And now here’s the thing. Food…its wonderful…one of my favorite things in day to day life…but…every time we eat…we end up hungry again don’t we? We need that sustenance…we eat…our bodies go through the amazing process of turning that food into energy to fuel our daily activities…but then it runs out and we need more. Its an amazing and wonderful thing…but its doomed to repeat itself day after day.

And Jesus’ words today point out that fact…You’re ancestors ate bread in the wilderness…and they…died. (pause) Now Jesus isn’t saying that this is a bad thing…only that the things of this world, including the food that we eat and drink…is fleeting…its not lasting. (pause)

But…in the midst of this entire chapter, as well as this small portion that we are sharing today…Jesus reminds us of the amazing notion that God is offering us so much more…if we can simply get out of our way to realize it. (pause)
I am the LIVING bread that has come down from heaven…eat the bread that I give and live forever…Eat my flesh and drink my blood…for they are real food and real drink. (long pause)

Now what’s the first thing that pops to mind here? I’m going to venture a guess that hearing that takes your mind directly to…wait for it…Holy Communion…and that’s understandable…here in the Lutheran tradition we take the sacraments pretty seriously…and one could certainly argue that communion seems to be the more important of the two…as we do it a whole lot more often over the course of our lives.

We do it often enough that I’m guessing many of you sitting out there can probably recite the whole deal from memory…I remember my younger days of sitting in church, typically beside a friend of mine who was the son of the pastor at the time, and we would both recite the vast majority of the Sunday morning liturgy under our breath right along with the pastor…perhaps some of you do the same…including the well-known words “This is my body broken for you…and this is the new covenant in my blood shed for all people…”

In fact, perhaps we hear it so often that we’ve grown immune to the life-altering reality that is present within Holy Communion…a life altering reality that Jesus tells about today when he says that if you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have life eternal…something that those present today can’t seem to wrap their heads around…something that seems just a little too drastic for them to accept…something that is just too far out of the box. Eat his flesh, drink his blood…BY NO MEANS…for that would be breaking the Jewish dietary laws…and likewise for us today, the notion of cannibalism is just a little too out there…and perhaps we’ve shunted that very notion to the back of our minds when we receive the bread and wine…and sure, those words of institution are wonderful…but by the time we receive our portion, its only bread and wine. (pause)

But that’s not what Jesus tells us today is it? (pause) My flesh is REAL food…and my blood is REAL drink…and in perhaps the most important statement that Jesus makes throughout this entire chapter…the bread that I give for the life of the world is…my…flesh…not body…flesh. (pause)
And when I thought about that specific statement I couldn’t help but remember what is admittedly my favorite passage in the entire Bible…And the word became FLESH…and dwelled among us. (long pause)

The bread that Jesus gives us…this real food…it is the physical embodiment of God…the word of God…the will of God…whatever you want to call it…that aspect of God that was present within the creation of the world has entered into our reality…as one of us…and God has done this for a specific reason…to give us life beyond anything that we can achieve on our own…

Think about that again…the sustainer and author and creator of the entire universe and everything in it…the creator of life as we know it and all that is lifegiving has put on flesh and dwelled among us…and why? So that we might dwell…so that we might ABIDE right along with him. (pause)

Now here’s the kicker…within the other three gospels…we hear communion type language at the last supper…and as such we tend to connect it to the death of Jesus…to the crucifixion…and there’s nothing wrong with that…our communion liturgy support it when we talk about Jesus body being broken and his blood poured out.

But here in John…you’ll notice that this all happens in the midst of Jesus’ life…in the midst of his ministry…we aren’t even half way through yet…and his death isn’t even on the radar screen yet. (pause)

Jesus came into our reality…the LIVING bread…the LIVING Lord…He came to show us that we have a God who is invested in us…right here…right now…and though we tend to talk a lot about the resurrection…and we tend to focus on the life that is to come in some unknown future after God claims us back from the power of death…it is also vital to note that our LIVING Lord desires us to abide in him right here…right now…and as such he promises us that by doing so…by being in relationship…by receiving that which he has offered us this relationship will not end, but will go on into eternity.

That’s what is happening when we receive that bread and that wine…and we hear those words that this IS the body of Christ…and this IS the blood of Christ…and so today, in just a few minutes when you hear those words spoken to you as an individual, remember that it is FOR you. (pause) Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that life altering? (pause) That we have a God who loves us so much that he will enter into our flawed, weird…strange reality just to be with us?

Imagine how the people there would have taken this…and maybe that’s not so hard…because this same earth shattering reality is true for us today…and even though the crowds were following Jesus around because they got some bread and they wanted some more…maybe, just maybe, their motivation for coming doesn’t really matter…and maybe ours doesn’t either.

Maybe…just coming for the food is enough…because it doesn’t matter why or how we come…what really matters…is how we leave? (pause) And we leave this table…each and every time…assured of the promise that God loves us…and God accepts us…and that God desires that we spend eternity with him…so much that he will do that which we cannot do ourselves….so much that through Christ…he’ll make coming back from death possible…and not only possible…but he’ll make it a reality.

So in the end…I think its safe to say that whatever brought you here today…whatever motivation caused you to get out of bed and mosey through the parking lot to come inside and sit down…whatever it is…I want you to know that it doesn’t matter…good, bad, otherwise…because whatever our intentions they’re never good enough, because sooner or later we’re gonna screw them up anyway…but praise be to God that he can…and does…take our messes, and turns them into miracles…and He does it whether we understand it or not. (pause)
And whether we understand it or not…it doesn’t diminish the truth that this IS his body…and this IS his blood…and it IS…for you. Amen.

Advertisements