Bread of Life, part 2, by Pastor Noel

August 5, 2018    Proper 13,B

 

      Twice while I’ve been driving I’ve heard interviews on the radio that were life-changing.

      Once was Fr. Greg Boyle, talking about his book, “Tattoos on the Heart.” ( I invite you to read it!)

      The other time was Susan Werner and her music.

      As soon as I got home I ordered her CD called “The Gospel Truth.”

      The song that caught my heart is, “Help Somebody.” She sings, “I got plenty and then some, so what do I do? I go out and help somebody get plenty and then some, too.”

      Gospel truth, for sure.

      God is all about generosity, sharing, nurturing, welcoming, including, feeding…

      “So mortals ate the bread of angels. (God) provided for them food enough.”

      The Israelites left Egypt in a hurry. They ran to avoid Pharaoh’s army, and the didn’t take much with them.

      At some point on the journey they started to be hungry. They yelled at Moses and accused him of starving them.

      So God gave them manna. When they saw it they said, “What is it?” That’s what the word manna means, “What is it?” We could say the same today, because whatever manna is, it is a mystery. 

      There was more than enough, but it didn’t keep. When they didn’t trust God, and tried to store some away, the manna became rotten.

      It’s good to be prudent and be ready for the unseen. It’s not good to amass a big pile of manna, or anything, if it takes away from others.

      God calls us to see the abundance in our lives. It’s interesting that some of the poorest people I know are the most thankful and most generous.           God shows us abundance –not in possessions but in relationships, in forgiveness, in grace.

      We’re the ones who worry about scarcity. We’re the ones who hoard and stockpile so we’ll have more than enough. Even if it means others have less than enough.

      The Gospel Truth song of Susan Werner gives us a different way. When we have enough, we share. When we have “plenty and then some” we find someone with need and we help fill that need.

      In John’s Gospel many folks just don’t get what Jesus is doing. They see him heal someone and they say, “give us a sign.”

      I think John uses this technique to have the chance to explain again and again about Jesus.

      Here the people seem to want Jesus power for themselves. “What must we do to perform the works of God?” they ask.

      The work of God is to believe in me, Jesus tells them. And then they ask what signs he does…

      Jesus must have spent lots of time shaking his head in wonder!

      That word “believe” is a tricky one. We say in the Creed that we believe in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, eternal life—and other things.

      We are called to believe with our lives.

      In the Creed we are really saying “I give my life to” or “I give my heart to” God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and all the rest.

      We can say I believe that two and two are four.  And that’s the end of it.

      When we say we believe in Jesus, that’s not the end of it. It’s only the beginning.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we are saying that we know we are God’s beloved, and we know that everyone else is, too.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we do whatever we can to make sure that those who have “plenty and then some” help take care of those who have too little, and then some.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we do whatever we can to level the playing field. We work for laws that are fair and equal. We work for an economic system that gives everyone a chance.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we do whatever we can to see that there is equal justice for everyone. All of God’s people.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we do whatever we can to bring health to the planet—to the world of animals and plants as well as to the world of people. All of God’s creation.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, we don’t just say it we live it, to show the glory of God.

      That is how the “bread of heaven…gives life to the world.”

      Jesus often speaks in metaphor, symbolism.

      When he promises we will never be hungry or thirsty, that is metaphor.

      When we say that we believe in Jesus, and when we live to show that, we have a new relation-ship with God.

      We no longer hunger for God to be part of our lives—we know that God is here. We don’t have to work for God’s love, we know God loves us.

      We no longer for thirst for God’s righteousness to be part of our lives—we are living it.

      The hunger and thirst for approval and status drives so much of the culture.  We fear that we are not really as good as we want others to think we are, even though God calls us beloved children.      

     We put up boundaries to keep others away. We keep on trying and trying. And no matter where we get it is never where we want to be.

      When we trust God and believe Jesus, life is better than that. Jesus spoke in metaphor, but our life with him is real and alive and tangible. Also mystical and spiritual.

      We don’t have to wonder, “What is it?” The “bread of life” is Jesus. The bread of life points us to life with God. This life is not perfect, but God is with us through whatever we face.

      We give our life to God when we come to the altar and reach up our hands for the bread of life, the Body of Christ.

      The bread of life is God’s abundant grace—love, mercy, peace, forgiveness, acceptance and….

      There is always more than enough grace, always plenty and then some.

      And when we have plenty and then some, what do we do? We go out and make sure others have plenty and then some, too.

           

 

 

 

The Rev. Noel Bailey

The Reverend Noel Bailey was born in Providence, is now back in RI for the 4th time, and hopes that this stay is longer than some of the others. She was ordained Priest at St. Michael's, Bristol, in May 1988, More details