Saturday, August 25, 2018

14 Pentecost Proper 16 Yr B Aug 26 2018



14 Pentecost Proper 16 Yr B Aug 26 2018 Audio

So we come to our last Sunday reading this sixth chapter of John. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the living bread. But some of Jesus’ disciples said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

Do we do that too? Do we ever say, this teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” I do, I think this is difficult, following Jesus is hard, but we can do hard things. So today lets take a look at what Jesus asks of us. Lets take a look at how Jesus empowers us to be followers. Lets take a look at how Jesus fills us with food, nourishment, life, so that we may have new life. Lets take a look at how Jesus abides in us.

And to get there, we need to remember what John asks us to recall. John assumes that we know our bible, and the story of Moses and the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. They did a bit of whining while they were wandering, wouldn’t we all, and they were fed manna. They were sustained in the wilderness, but John is making a point that even that food was not the bread of life, the living bread. The trouble in this text is that people don’t believe Jesus is who he is. The trouble is that people don’t believe Jesus is God in the flesh.

It’s important for us to remember that John’s story is told many years after Jesus lived, suffered, died, resurrected and ascended. John finds it very hard to understand that anyone who has an encounter with the story of Jesus would not believe that Jesus is indeed God in the flesh, the incarnate one. John shows us the truth of who Jesus is by showing us the signs that Jesus did, turning water into wine, healing the woman who bled for years, healing the man who was ill for 38 years, feeding 5000 people, healing the man blind from birth, and raising Lazarus from the dead. So the disciples make the statement we are thinking in our heads. This is hard, not only to wrap our minds around, but to open our hearts, and to follow.

What makes it so hard? We didn’t see it ourselves or hear it ourselves. And it is very apparent in our lives today that nothing and no one can be trusted and that facts are not really facts at all. The trouble in our world is that talk about being faithful rather than successful is all foolishness. You all know this. You all have experienced this. Talk about things not seen makes your sanity suspect. Commitment to gathering in Jesus’ name, prayer and study makes your priorities questionable in some circles. And abiding in Jesus’ real presence in bread and wine, body and blood, is foolish.

So many in leadership positions rely on their own perceived power, and get into a heap of trouble. In all walks of life we see people who have come to believe that they are above or beyond being accountable to the community, to us.

So this good news is hard because it calls us into community, it calls us to accountability, it calls us to lay down our own desire for power. That’s why the Jewish and Roman authorities of Jesus day tried to trip him up, tried to snare him. Their power was being threatened. And it is not so different today.

So in this last story of John’s gospel about the bread of life, the living bread, let’s see what may be going on. Remember the word John uses for the deep relationship Jesus has with us, to abide, or dwell. John is very interested in showing Jesus’ followers what incarnation looks like. Incarnation, God being born in a barn, God coming into this world as one of us, God taking on flesh. Incarnation means God dwells with us, God in our midst, God in the flesh. This relationship between God in the flesh, who is Jesus, and God’s creation, you and me, is cellular, it is so deep and so broad and so wide, it is so intimate, that Jesus’ presence is nourishment, sustenance, life, it is bread for our souls.

John uses this verb, abide, throughout the gospel, and it means the mutual indwelling of God, Jesus, and the disciples. Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his Love.” There is a sense of divine presence and companionship, and friendship.

Could this also be what is so hard? And maybe even scary. That God, who is creator of all that is, seen and unseen, creator of the cosmos, sees fit to walk this journey of life with us. That Jesus is so very present with us. Really present, present when we are so broken we have no hope that the bits and pieces could ever be made whole again. Really present, present when our joy is so intense that we feel it throughout our bodies. Really present even in our worries, and in our mistakes that deep down inside we believe cannot be forgiven. Really present, when we are filled with bread that is body and wine that is blood. Really present, and that presence fills us with fear, fear that is awe.

We have lost the sense of awe. Everything is awesome, but not filled with awe. Jesus, really present in the bread and the wine, the body and the blood, fills us with fear, with awe. How can this be? This is really hard, and somewhat scary. Jesus abides in us, Jesus calls us into relationship, Jesus nourishes us. Because when we are filled with Jesus, filled with bread and wine, body and blood, we are changed, we are transformed, and we are deepened, we are made into who God means for us to be. It is this, abiding presence that empowers us to let go of and to lay down our burdens, our addictions, our worries, and being made into the new creation of God’s dream. And letting go is hard, giving up power, and the illusion of control is hard, but you can do hard things.

God’s dream is to be people who love. Because, if it’s not about love, it’s not about God. We are people who follow Jesus, who each day face the realities of our lives, our joys and our sorrows, our anxieties and our loveliness. Who get out of bed to face ourselves with integrity and honesty, with the heart knowledge that Jesus abides in us. We step out into the world in love. We leave this place filled with the real presence of Jesus. We love because God first loved us.

Risen lord, be know to us in the breaking of the bread. Lord Jesus, abide in us, as we love one another. Amen.

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