Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bread of Life

I am the Bread of Life

I am the bread of life; He who comes to Me shall not hunger.
He who believes in Me shall not thirst; No one can come to Me unless the Father draw him.

And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up on the last day

The bread that I will give Is My flesh for the life of the world.
And he who eats of this bread -- he shall live for ever; he shall live for ever!

And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up on the last day

Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man
And drink of His blood, and drink of His blood, you shall not have life within you.

And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up on the last day

I am the resurrection. I am the life!
He who believes in Me, even if he die he shall live for ever!

And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up on the last day

Yes, Lord, we believe that You are the Christ:
The Son of God who has come into the world.

And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up, And I will raise him up on the last day

(C) Suzanne Toolan, 1971

The song above is such a powerful hymn of praise. Next week in the Episcopal and other churches, we take a look at the scripture whence comes this hymn from John's gospel, Chapter 6. In the bible, the story immediately follows the story of the Feeding of the 5000... In fact, it has all the same characters played by all the same people. And the folks who had just watched Jesus turn a basket full of food into a feast for 1000X more people than it should have fed followed him across the sea to put him to the test.

They wanted him to recreate the miracle that their forefathers had witnessed in the wilderness so many years before, when God rained down manna upon them from heaven (Exodus 16). Can YOU imagine having sat on the hillside that day, when Jesus blessed and broke bread for 5000 people? They should have gotten a crumb each, by rights, for none of them brought their lunchables or thermoses of soup in their transformer lunchboxes that day. Rightfully, they would have skipped lunch, but Jesus performed a sign for them... Can you put yourself in their thong sandals?

Realistically, no, because none of us have lived through what those people had lived through. They weren't too sure about this Jesus yet, honestly -- he hadn't died for their sins yet.... so they had a bit of an excuse, but for crying out loud -- he fed thousands of people with a basket full of bread and fish -- enough food for one or two families to enjoy a meager lunch, at best. Isn't it bizarre...isn't it WILD... isn't it even a little insulting that these people wanted to test Jesus further after witnessing such a powerful event?

I mean, those people around today who insist on having PROOF of God's existence and God's power -- they wouldn't have had much to say on that hillside that day, would they? Not much questioning the power of Jesus on this, yet the people gathered DID. The unmitigated temerity! This is no magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat -- this is a magician pulling 5000 rabbits out of a hat! SERIOUSLY, people! What more evidence should a person really need to believe in God -- to believe in Jesus' power to provide abundantly for His people?

So yeah, it's easy for me to look at those people through the words of the text and judge them. How simplistic does this really need to be, you blind baboons?!


Then, I stop for a second. 'Cause I get the lesson too. We all know this story -- we've been hearing it for years. Perhaps there is no better example of a time when Jesus proved His Godly power than this one... I think it's fair to say that in other stories, He didn't prove it in so obvious a way to so many people as he did here. What more evidence, indeed, then, should I need to believe in God -- and to live my life for Him?

"I trust in God's wisdom." Then why don't I answer the way God would answer every time?
"I trust in God's power." Then why do I hesitate to take a risk and trust in God's strength to pick me up if I fall?
"I trust in God's authority." Then why do I continuously push back against God's will and God's commandments?
"I trust in God's reconciliation." Then why do I pray daily, "Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who have trespassed against me," yet consistently sin against my neighbor and consistently fail to forgive them? And fail to forgive myself?

While Jesus weeps for me because I just don't get it.

Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is all our souls need to survive. To progress. To thrive. They who come to Him shall not hunger for forgiveness, for worth. They who believe in Him will never thirst for companionship, for love, for wisdom.
And all those who come to Christ with yearning hearts and minds and souls and will be raised up on their last day, just like my dad was. We sang this song at his funeral, and it was absolutely the highest form of praise people can muster, that day. There were plenty of musicians present but you could not hear them because the people were singing this song of worship with all their might. For a moment, we all GOT IT.

I don't want to wait and be reminded of this lesson again next time a funeral comes along and this is played. Will you pray for me? Will you pray that I (and you) might JUST GET IT? Oh, it's not going to happen overnight... but if we could just GET IT, a little more often in situations when we should TRUST instead of judging, we'd become better people... We'd become better servants for God. We'd help other people start to GET IT.

I've referred before to a simple, intangible quality that some people have that gives us quiet confidence in them. It gives us a KNOWLEDGE that the person is right with God, that God shines through the person, that God can say, daily, "Well done, good and faithful servant." There's just something about Mary. Well, I believe this is the simple intangible. This is the something. Folks who have had enough evidence or proof -- whether that is none or a ton for them -- to walk that path without questioning any more are THOSE people.

God, please give me the willingness to allow the feeding of the 5000 to be enough. To allow the manna raining from heaven, the parting of the Red Sea, the burning bush, Daniel's experience in the Lion's Den, Jonah's experience in the whale, the healing of the blind, the cleansing of lepers, the turning of water into wine, the resurrection of Lazarus to be enough. To allow my survival of the fall from that second story window, my meeting my soulmate and partner for life in 7th grade, the home-births of my three kids, and the resurrection of MY father to be enough.

Please give me the willingness to allow the death and resurrection of your Son to be enough.

Soften my resolve, Lord, that I may allow your love to be enough. Amen.

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