12 Sunday after Pentecost Yr B Proper 15 Aug 16 2015 Audio
When my mom died, we spent some time going through her things of course, and I went through her recipe box. I looked at and read many of her recipes, some I remembered with fondness, others where forgettable. I took pictures of some, the ones in her handwriting, places where she had taken notes about changes. I have her pie crust recipe, with the corners and the edges of the paper all folded and ripped. It's a little like talking to her about it. Kathy, if the air is dry you need a little more flour, or for the lefse recipe, if the potatoes are a little moist, just throw in a little extra flour. A recipe is not just a recipe, it's a story, a story of how it used to be, or a story of scarcity that proves to be abundance. Isn’t that the way it usually happens, you go looking for a good recipe, and in return you get wisdom, maybe it also happens the other way around too, you share a good recipe, and you share a bit of wisdom as well.
We have the same pairing in our readings today, wisdom and good food; maybe there is not one without the other. Wisdom in scripture is not just about being wise, as opposed to being foolish; God has built wisdom into the fabric of the cosmos. And we learn from wisdom that there are certain ways of living in which people thrive, and other ways of living which lead people to death. Ordering your life to wisdom is what we read about in these scripture passages today. We've been reading through the story of David, from shepherd to king, from young boy to powerful and maybe foolish man. The story is continued today in Kings. King David’s son Solomon is now on the throne, at the ripe old age of 12. You and I know that Solomon is famous for being wise, and it is already evidenced at this young age in his prayer to God, give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil. In Ephesians we hear about wisdom as right living, be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise. Do not be foolish, but understand what the will, which also may be translated desire, understand what the desire of the Lord is. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, giving thanks to God the father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the marks of following Jesus is intentionality and spiritual practice. A mistake is made when people, Christians and others, think morality is the marker. It is not. I believe that intentionality, spiritual practice and our prayer together, or common prayer, forms us into the people who God desires us to be, who God dreams we can be. Not a perfect people, but a wise people, a people who can love one another. Paul’s words for the Ephesians are about wisdom as right living, and that God’s desire for us, God’s people, is to live wisely.
In John’s gospel, the wisdom tradition is applied to Jesus; Jesus now is the embodiment of wisdom. We continue to hear about the living bread, the bread that is Jesus. John is making a claim about the radical presence of God in Jesus, essentially John is saying that in Jesus, God provides everything; God’s abundance is made real in Jesus. We are invited to be present in God’s bounty. We are invited to feast on wisdom; we are invited to eternal life, all contained in this loaf of bread.
What does it mean for us that God has built wisdom into the fabric of the cosmos, that ordering our lives to wisdom brings abundant and bountiful life, that Jesus is the embodiment of wisdom, and that we feast on wisdom? I think it means that even like the ordinary bread, our ordinary lives are made extraordinary by God’s abundant love.
I am reminded of the movie Chocolat. The story is about a young mother who with her young daughter blow into a rural French village on the first Sunday of Lent. She opens a Chocolate shop, and prepares amazing confections that seem to transform those who eat them. She has opposition however by those in the town who live by a certain set of rules, a morality, that doesn’t allow for the ordinary pleasure of chocolate, most especially during Lent.
Our main character in the movie dispenses wisdom along with chocolate and other confections. Entering her chocolate shop through the ordinary front door results in extraordinary nourishment. And yet, there remain those who will not cross the threshold for fear of what may happen and how they may be changed.
We are changed by the ordinary bread, into an extraordinary community. We are changed by the wisdom feast into the body of Christ teeming with extraordinary life. Wise or foolish, that is the reality. And that reality is scary to some, some will not cross the threshold into love because it changes them.
The call to follow Jesus is a call to a foolish life of love. To follow Jesus is to believe ordinary bread that is made extraordinary, can fill you up and heal your heart. To follow Jesus is to practice the intentionality of love, even when you don't feel like it. To follow Jesus is to buck the conventional wisdom that the first will be first and the last will be last, it is to be fools for Christ and witness that the first will be last, and the last will be first. To follow Jesus is to let the truth that loves wins, take hold of your heart and your mind.
Following Jesus takes practice, it takes foolishness and wisdom, it takes brokenness and healing, it takes listening to our mistakes, like King David had to listen to Nathan, and forgiveness. Following Jesus is hard in this world where money and power seem to matter more than wisdom and love. Following Jesus means walking the road together, and sharing some bread along the way, oh, and some chocolate too.