Sunday, September 22, 2019

Jesus is broader.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Then we get the argument that we hear about in this Gospel.

“The conversation is getting more and more difficult. In verse 41, the crowds who had made such efforts to find Jesus after he had crossed the lake begin to grumble (NRSV translates this as "complain"), just as Israel in the wilderness had done (for example, Exodus 17:3). Their complaint in verse 42 focuses on the difficulty caused by their own presumed knowledge of Jesus. They conclude that he has not come from Heaven, because they know his parents. Familiarity is breeding contempt. One who has been among them cannot possibly be what Jesus claims to be.”[1]

John is using very symbolic and figurative language to try to explain Jesus’ origins and just how Jesus relates to those seeking him.  Jesus cannot possibly be from heaven let alone God for we know his parents.  You and I can no more be spiritually engaged or have an eye for the mystical because we are from…where are you from?  Where are you from?

I mean, I am from Detroit when was the last time something good came out of Detroit? besides lays potato chips!

So, this is where I break from a restrictive reading. I believe if we read this text in the context of Johns Gospel it leads to a unique place.  Let’s recall the opening of Johns Gospel;

In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him and without Him not one thing came into being. (John 1: 1-4)

Through the opening words of Johns Gospel and todays text I see a place where we can honor all faith and all people and all of creation.  For if everything came into being through Christ then all, each one of us are of Christ. Jesus is our Bread from Heaven but there are other wise sources or spiritual food who come to the earth and other practices and believers find their spiritual food if you will who also were created through the word, therefore are of Christ.

Though we have our differences, among ourselves as UCC, as Methodists as unitarians and among Christians. We as people who follow Christ, in a world made up of “4,200 religions. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect.”[2] There is a belief of the Golden rule, all faiths have a thread of ultimate truth that runs through them. Just as all were created through the word, just as the Hebrews ate of Manna in the desert, which literally translates to what’s that? All of creation, the stars and the planets, life here and elsewhere were created through the word.  Have eaten of the spiritual food that comes in many different forms.

Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote in 1948;

“We should waste no time in futile arguments as to what religion or spiritual outlook is right or wrong, but gladly accept the evidence of anyone’s prayer and faith as a demonstration of that person’s belief. Too much time is lost in arguing whether or not one’s philosophy is the only correct one, her religion the only true one, his method of procedure the only effective one. Let us leave these arguments to the contentions of smaller minds and try to find the thread of Truth running through all systems. Let us build on the affirmative and forget the negative.[3]

Do not panic, I am not negating Christianity.  You are in the right place, the right pew, you are where you need to be and where you are called to be just as I am. 

What is it we are called to? We are called to love all and so it runs through the faiths and practices of many in the world.

Sikhism says; “Be not estranged from one another for god dwells in every heart” (SRI GURU Granth) Sahib

Zoroastrianism; “Human nature is good only when it does not do unto Another whatever is not good for its own self” (Dadistan I Dink 94:5)

Islam; “No one is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself.” (Sunnah)

Judaism; “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor That is the entire Torah the rest is commentary go and learn” (Rabbi Hillel to Shammai Talmud Shabbat 31 A)

Jainism; “In happiness and Suffering in joy and grief regard all creatures as you would your own self.” (Lord Mahivir 24th Tirthankara)

Bahai; “Blessed are those who prefer others before themselves” (Bahai’u’llah Tablets of Baha’ uallah 71)

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:13) 

What I am saying is that this Gospel reading and Johns whole Gospel points to a Christ Larger and broader than we really understand. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God! And all things came into being through him” (John 1:1-2) well that kind of puts away any chance we have at diminishing any one! That also puts all creation on a level playing field. All creation and that means not just the lonely blue marble we are living on, but includes all that which we can and cannot see, all the cosmos.

This is a cosmic Christ, a Christ bigger than any one faith or religion; Richard Rohr explains it this way;

“Understanding the Cosmic Christ can change the way we relate to creation, to other religions, to other people, to ourselves, and to God. Knowing and experiencing the Cosmic Christ can bring about a major shift in consciousness. Like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9), you won’t be the same after encountering the Risen Christ.[4]

Christianity is just beginning to understand and learn of this.  Yet if we allow ourselves to flow with the Cosmic Christ that all things are created through then we can begin to understand and accept Jesus as Bread from heaven, a shepherd, as a gate keeper, as the way. for all the many metaphors used to describe that which is beyond comprehension. Richard Rohr goes on to explain; 

“The Cosmic Christ is Divine Presence pervading all of creation since the very beginning. My father Francis of Assisi intuited this presence and lived his life in awareness of it. Later, John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) put this intuition into philosophical form. For Duns Scotus, the Christ Mystery was the blueprint of reality from the very start (John 1:1). Teilhard de Chardin brought this insight into our modern world. God’s first “idea” was to become manifest—to pour out divine, infinite love into finite, visible forms. The “Big Bang” is now our scientific name for that first idea; and “Christ” is our theological name. Both are about love and beauty exploding outward in all directions. Creation is indeed the Body of God! What else could it be, when you think of it?[5]

Jesus even attempts to explain it; “I am the Good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” (John 10:15-16) If I have gone too far for you, tell me so, it is okay.  If I have not gone far enough, challenge me.  But I truly believe that John’s Gospel message today, this cosmos/cosmic Sunday is one of inclusion. The same inclusion we proclaim daily that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s Journey you are welcome here.  It is also why we proclaim this is an open table it.  This table belongs to no one and everyone for it is Gods table if you are a child of God you are welcome here.

Our challenge as Christians is to be the welcoming table at all times.  We are called to be hospitable first and then to go further. Christ is the gate through which many shepherds have gone, Christ is the word through which all creation comes. Christ the spiritual truth that transcends all comprehension, for the truth is as vast as the cosmos. Now we just have to honor that in each and everything and everyone.

Todays Psalmist proclaims 

4-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
    brimming with fish past counting,
    sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
    and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
    to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
    you open your hand and they eat from it. (psalm 104 vs 24-40 the MSG)

We have over the past few weeks explored God’s creation.  We celebrated ocean Sunday

The song of the waters reminds us;

Taste the moisture of the morning,
Smoother than the best red wine;
Toast the lifeblood of the planet:
Here’s to God’s wild wet design!
Sing a song of flowing waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth.[6]

We celebrated floura and fauna Sunday 

The song of the wild calls to us 

Will you come back with Me to the birth of the Earth, Before all its life forms evolved?
Will you sing with the heavens amazed at the sight: A planet with secrets to unfold? 
Will you praise,
Be amazed
With eyes as wide as a child’s? Will you praise,
Be amazed
And sing
The song of the wild? [7]

We celebrated Storm Sunday in which we sang out our faith 

Put your hand in the hand of the man
Who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man
Who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself
And you can look at others differently
Put your hand in the hand of the man
From Galilee[8]

And now on this the day we celebrate all the cosmos we are called t 

The cosmos hails the Christ, the One Who reconciles all things, 
‘til all creation rises new With healing in her wings. 
6. As Christ unites the universe, Restores this Earth once more, A cosmic song reverberates, A rich symphonic score.[9]

[2] Wikipedia, List of religions and spiritual traditions, April 27, 2017, accessed May 2, 2017,
[3] ] Barry Ebert, Teaching our Children Well, 2015, accessed April 2, 2017,
[4] Richard Rohr, e-mail message to, October 22, 2017.  Richard Rohr’s daily Meditation.

[5] Ibid

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