the one about body and blood...
August 20, 2018, 7:27 AM

Sermon from August 19, 2018

Text: John 6: 51-58

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ; will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen!

So, whenever I get to this text in John’s gospel, I get a little weirded out. Mostly because Jesus seems to double down on this fact that we need to eat him. Do we take this literally? It appears that those first hearers of Jesus’ message were a bit put off as well. They ask questions, they are confused, what is Jesus to do?

Well, he explains a little bit more. He invites them into deeper conversations. Jesus isn’t putting them down or putting them in their place. He isn’t scoffing at their unbelief, he isn’t refusing their presence with him.

He again is inviting them into conversation. He again is giving of himself so that they might know. He again is meeting them where they are.

And it is still confusing. It is still scandalous.

What Jesus offers us this day about his life and this meal is still confusing. Countless arguments have erupted over this meal, this bread and wine, this body and blood. It has torn congregations and denominations apart.

Some believe that it is literally the body and blood, some believe that it is only a meal of remembrance, some believe that you have to have it every time you gather for worship, some feel that having it more frequently makes it less special, some believe that you have to know everything and understand first before receiving this meal.

Of course, disagreements in the church itself are not new. It’s been going on for a long time and there is no group within the greater church that is immune to it. Everyone has disagreements.

We see it in our Gospel reading this morning. Those in authority question what Jesus means. And I think they ask a pretty important question – how can he give us his flesh to eat?

Jesus doesn’t turn away and say, “Well if you don’t understand it, then I’m just going to take my ball and go home.” No. He continues to invite them in and explain to them and us what this means. Yet, even in his explanation there is still confusion – not only for those around him that day, but for each of us today as well.

Which makes me begin to think, maybe perhaps it isn’t about knowing this fully. It isn’t about learning the ins and outs of what is going on in this meal. It isn’t about getting it right so that it can be good for us.

Instead, we have faith to what Jesus is saying about this meal. He is here. He is here in this bread and in this wine. This meal – this body and blood – is for us. We receive this food and drink and we receive Jesus himself. There is no wall that prevents us from feasting on this meal and being that much closer to our Lord.

Jesus offers us his life; his very being. In this meal – in this bread and wine – Jesus promises to be here. It is a meal for us to live, to live fully and faithfully in the world. It is a meal that reminds us of God’s presence in our life and it is a meal that fills us with strength to go out into the world to share and serve and be with others.

It is a meal that when things are tough and difficult, that we are reminded that Jesus is there. It is a meal that when things are going great, Jesus is right there too. It is a meal that as things are going ‘normal,’ Jesus is present as well.

This is Jesus offering himself to you, to me, to the world so that we might know of God’s love and presence here in this place and here in this world. That no matter whether you ‘understand it’ Jesus is still here. Giving us his body and blood, offering his life and very being so that we and the world might live fully in faith.

I know I shared this story with y’all before, but it is so good that I have to share it again.

A number of years ago I approached a young family to inquire if their children would like to begin receiving communion. I received a reaction that I didn’t expect – at least a reaction I never had before and have not since. The mother was adamant about her children not receiving communion because they didn’t understand it. She didn’t want her kids to unknowingly be receiving communion into their ‘own damnation.’ Even with my assurances that I think she was misinterpreting that specific part of scripture she was relentless.

Which is fine. Though I disagreed, it is a family decision. Forcing this meal upon others is not our Lord’s intent.

Yet, a few weeks later, she had asked for a private meeting with me to talk about communion.

Her mind had changed. A total reversal from a week’s before. What changed? Did her kids know exactly what was going on? Had they had intense Bible studies leading up to this change of heart?

No. Her youngest daughter, who happened to be 3 or 4 at the time simply asked her mom, “Mom – why can’t I have Jesus too?”

In that moment the mom’s mind changed. If she could understand – even a little bit – that this meal represented Jesus and his love, that was good enough for her.

Those were some of the most enthusiastic kids to receive communion.

In today’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus talk about things in such a way that it is difficult for not only the leaders in the faith around Jesus to understand, but difficult for each of us to comprehend as well.

Yet, we are not turned away. We are instead invited into this meal. We are invited into this relationship of faith and trust. To know, believe, and have hope that Jesus is indeed present in this meal. So present, in – with – and under the bread and the wine that it is as if it is Jesus himself.

As we seek this communal relationship with our Lord, Jesus is there. As we collectively and individually ask questions, Jesus is present with us. As we struggle and live into this life of faith, our Lord – the one who came down to be with us – is indeed, still with us. Always.

We eat this bread of life so that we no longer hunger or thirst. We no longer hunger for meaning and thirst for acceptance. We find it here in this meal. We share it together. All are welcome to this table. All are welcome to this meal. All are welcome to this grace.

We may not always understand what’s going on. But, here is bread. Here is wine. Eat. Drink. So that you might live and know; Jesus is here. Amen.

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