Sunday, August 9, 2015

I am the Bread of Life ...Food for thought!

Oh my Lord …”I am the bread of Life” how much Bickering has this little phrase caused.  What does it mean?  How far does it go?  What do I need to believe to be right with God?  I have a book on the History of the Eucharist and I started looking for it in my bookshelves and before I Got down on my hands and knees to start rifling through that book to find you heady quotes I thought I don’t need that.  Because THAT is not what THIS is about.
This bread and juice on the table have nothing to do with today’s reading. Well not directly.  I know this meal, this simple act we do each week means different things for different people and I truly believe that this bread and juice is transformed (or not), through your faith, into whatever you need it to be to be in order for your faith to remain strong, in order for your soul to be nourished, so that you may continue on your path, on your walk with God.
Today’s reading is John; John the Mystical, John, for whom Jesus never speaks plainly.  John has a poetic / spiritual way of having Christ reveal himself to his followers. Then once Jesus does speak people get confused and do not get it.  They take Christ literally and get upset.
Father David Smith an Episcopal priest writes about this
“Remember Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, and Jesus says to him, ‘You must be born from above’, but Nicodemus misunderstands him, and thinks he is talking about being reborn to his mother all over again!

Or recall when Jesus encounters a woman at the well, and He tells her that ‘she who drinks of your water will thirst again’, and offers her ‘living water’ instead, but she thinks he‘s talking about some underground spring that he‘s found.

And so likewise in John 6, where Jesus is dealing with a whole crowd of people, He says to them, ‘work not for the bread that perishes, but for the heavenly bread that endures for eternal life’, but the crowd thinks that he’s talking about some special health food, similar to that which Moses sourced for them back in the days of old, except that it doesn’t go off - a super-organic-health-bread-concoction perhaps, that has all the wonderful benefits that those health drinks you’ve read about on the Internet are supposed to have for you. ‘He who eats of this bread will live forever!’

Jesus says, ‘NO, NO and NO. I am the bread! My flesh is the food. What you need is not some new form of organic pastry. What you need is ME!’
You see, it’s His presence that we need - not His wisdom, not his teachings, not the memories of all the good times we spent together (nice though they were) but His presence!”[1]
For Christ there is an urgency for his followers and listeners to understand yet they just don’t hear it.  This so reminds me of the urgency that the Character of Christ sings in Jesus Christ superstar by Andrew Lloyd Weber “Think while you still have me Move while you still see me!”[2] Jesus was saying I am right here in front of you.  My very essence is here with you today. Yet they did not get it.
Luckily, for us, these metaphors and parables and words were written down so we can continue to explore and learn and grow in them.
Father David goes on to explain; “The crowd came looking for bread, but Jesus tells them, ‘It’s not ordinary bread that you need. You need the living bread. You need the presence of the living God in your life. You need to move beyond ‘me’ to ’we’! …You need me within you’
There’s something strikingly contemporary about this religious ‘seeking behavior’ that we read about in these early chapters of John’s Gospel.”[3]  People come to Church seeking Christ and Christ, I pray, is often revealed.  Through the Sunday service, through teaching, through the community that is Church, through one another and through prayer.
I love the fact that Christ reminds us in this reading that “You’re not in charge here.  The creator who sent me is in Charge” (John 6:44) We all here are still human trying to make sense of Godly words and actions that happened thousands of years ago and yet remain as active and relevant in our daily lives as the air we breathe.
The Christ who was, who is and who will be surrounding and blessings us with Living Spirit, Living Essence, just waiting for us to relax and take it in.  If we just allow ourselves to open our eyes, ears and soul we would be able to experience that essence in our daily lives.  How often God is reaching out to us inviting us to come in and yet we just don’t see it.  We are still seeking that physical presence the actually miracle bread that will give us eternal life.
As long as we continue to look for it, it will continue to be as elusive as the fountain of youth.  I hope I am not getting to metaphorical or perhaps I need to be.  You see often, as in today’s reading Christ is as clear as mud.  Why?  Because as I am trying to convey in words what cannot be, so was Christ.  This is the spiritual, this is the soul, this is about a deeper connection that even the mystics have a hard time conveying.
Teres of Avila put it this way; “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, danse, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”[4]

“let this Presence settle into our bones” another physical reference to what is not physical at all.  This is about connecting with the other, that which is beyond all comprehension and understanding.  This is about building practices which help us find our way to the other.  God is calling each and every one of us and as we choose to respond the call becomes greater.

For St. Francis of Assisi the presence of Christ was revealed through our deeds and actions. He said “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”.  That you in your simple human form could be the actual message of God that one would receive.  That you are the body of Christ.  Isn’t that what being church is really about?

I remember singing at communion the John Foley song “One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless, And we though many, throughout the earth, We are one body in this one  Lord.”[5] What I am saying is that the message today of Christ, I am the Bread of Heaven means nothing more that Christ is food for our soul.  To meditate upon his life, words and deeds is the first step in our continuous walk with Christ.

But there is more to this as Professor Brian Peterson points out;
“There is theological irony at play here. The crowd's professed knowledge of Jesus' "father and mother" only reveals their complete ignorance of the Father who sent Jesus (verse 44). The truth is not found in knowing the human parents who have nurtured Jesus' childhood. Rather, the truth is found in knowing that Jesus has come from the Father in Heaven. The crowd's self-assured "knowledge" stands in their way of seeing the truth. We suffer from the same difficulty of seeing beyond what we "know" to be true (about the poor, about ourselves, about the line separating "the saved" from everyone else, etc.), so that we might see the divine Truth among us.

The only way out of such deadly unbelief is to be drawn into faith by the Father, and this activity of the Father is a major focus of today's text. Once again, the profound and holy mystery of faith is embraced by this text, and we ought to be careful not to unravel it into bland or moralistic pieties. Faith is not simply a human choice to be made, but is the activity of the Father drawing people to Jesus. The word used in verse 44 is the same word used to describe fishing nets being hauled into the boat (21:6). We must be dragged into faith by God; there is no other way to come. But what does that say about the grumblers in this text? What does it say about those around and among us who, to all appearances, have not been drawn to Jesus? What does it say about ourselves, when we recognize our own resistance to faith to be so deep and persistent?”[6].

First let me say please excuse the patristic language but it is a direct quote and the question he poses is a difficult one, what does this say about us when we recognize our own resistance to go deeper, to reach out further, to do something maybe we believe we cannot do?  On our own we can’t!  Yet in this passage Christ makes it clear that God is drawing us into relationship. Professor Peterson even points out that this is the same word for drawing in the fishing nets. This is an Active God drawing us into relationship through Christ, blessed and energized by the Holy Spirit.

Remember I spoke of Jesus’ urgency for his followers to understand him but not understand him through a literal sense he spoke in metaphor and parable for that is the only way to get past the physical and to reach and experience Christs Presence.

What Jesus is saying is that God is fully present to us, available to us in the everyday.  This is radical.  This is beyond understanding of most people then and I would say most now.  I preach it and I believe it, but I must say I do not fully understand it, even when I have those moments that I feel the connection so deeply that it makes me tremble. It is a mystery.  It is the mystery!

God so loved the world that God became human fully human and fully alive so that people could have a relationship with God.  God is continuously drawing us closer into relationship and it is us who resist who put up road blocks. Yet through our understanding of our relation to Christ, through our knowing that Christ Lived, Loved, celebrated life to the fullest (there was a lot of wine to be had and plenty a meal to share), Knowing that Jesus became frustrated, hurt, angry, and scared, even when he knew there was a happy ending ( the resurrection), this is our bread.

These Gospel stories that have been told over and over again, feed us. This is bread.  The prayer that Jesus teaches us and again is repeated in many different languages all over the world, feeds us.  This is bread.  When we take these lessons of how to be in the world and we share of us with others, sharing with others, this feeds us.  Then when we are fed, when we take that moment to realize we are experience the Bread of Life, Christ’s very presence that is when we get it.

This isn’t something that happens every day.  This isn’t something we can actually work at we just have to go about our day and hope we are doing well and carrying that bread of life in our soul and just allow it to happen.
Julian of Norwich prays; “That which is impossible for you is not impossible to me (say's our Lord):  I will preserve my word in all things and I will make all things well.

This is the Great Deed that our Lord will do.  

Our faith is grounded in God's word and we must let this faith be.  How it will be done, we will not know until it is done because God wants us to be at ease and at peace, not troubled or kept from enjoying God.   The more we busy ourselves to know God's secrets, the further away from knowledge we shall be.  Let all your love be, my child.   Turn to me.   I am everything you need.   Enjoy me and your liberation.  Be at peace, my child.

And so our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubt which I could raise, saying most comfortingly:  I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well...And in these...words God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and in peace.”[7]

You see as we are drawn to God through Christ, the Bread of Life, we are nourished.  Just like a meal we are nourished and now capable to carry out our day.  Yet it is different for with this nourishment it is a day lived out in the Body of Christ.  I hope I did not make this to ethereal, too out there yet it is. So allow me to make it even more so by offering a prayer of Thomas Merton.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.   I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.   And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.   In Christ, Amen.”[8]

[1] David Smith, Jesus, the Bread of Life: John 6:35, 41-51, accessed 8/3/2015august 2006,
[2] Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and arranged by Paul Murtha, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hal Leonard performance series marching band (Originally published as Chichester, U.K. United States: Universal Pictures, 1973 ;. Mèunster. Mèunster. Disney Channel :, Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2006), Digital eBook.
[3] David Smith, Jesus, the Bread of Life: John 6:35, 41-51, accessed 8/3/2015august 2006,
[4] Goodreads inc, Teresa of Avila Qoutes, accessed */3/2015,
[5] John Foley, One Bread One Body, October 14, 2013, accessed August 3, 2015,
[6] Professor Brian Peterson, Commentary on John 6:35, 41-51, accessed August 3, 2015,
[7] Fr. Ray, Food For Thought And Nourishment For The Soul, 2009, accessed August 3, 2015,
[8] Ibid.