In pm's words
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August 24, 2015, 10:21 AM

The one where we look...


Sermon from August 23, 2015

Sermon Text: John 6: 56-69

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let 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, we’ve finally come to the end of this discussion on bread. As we read this Gospel lesson this morning, I’m willing to bet that many of us can identify ourselves with those gathered around Jesus who say, “You know what – this is a little much. I’m not sure this is something I want to do.” As they hear these difficult sayings and teachings from Jesus many who gathered with him turned and walked away.

But, there’s something I want to point out here that might be overlooked at times. If you notice, the ones who turn and leave Jesus aren’t just called ‘the crowds’ as the writer has previously identified them as. No, they are disciples of Jesus who turned back. It is easy for us to consider them ‘lazy’ or not ‘strong enough,’ yet we see that these aren’t just random individuals hearing Jesus for the first time, but they are the ones who ministered with him. I wonder how many of us could’ve been easily mixed in with that group that turned back.

There are those moments and times in our life where we questioned or doubted. In the dead of night, at the bedside of a child or grandchild who was sick in the hospital. While we wondered as we woke up in the morning and thought of the spouse who chooses no longer to be there. While cooking a meal and reflecting on all the ill-will that might exist in our families. We sit back and wonder why things haven’t turned out the way that we hoped, the way that we thought, the way that we wanted – even perhaps the way that we were promised. In all those moments haven’t we wondered if and why we have believed in vain?

In those moments, the thought creeps in as to why we even do ‘all of this.’ What is it good for? Where we wonder where God is, if there is a God, and why at times is it so hard to actually see God at work in our lives? When we get to those points in our lives and those doubts and questions linger it is easy to succumb to the thought that those promises were misplaced and the trust was empty.

And we may not openly speak out against God – we’re Lutheran after all we don’t like to talk about that stuff all the time – but, we might not have made that extra effort to get to worship. Our prayer life slowly dwindles, we reduce what we’ve been giving to the church, we don’t see the point to help others. We ever so slowly disassociate ourselves with the community of faith around us, we slowly back away into the darkness of the night.

In the end, we get to where those same disciples who turned back are in our gospel this morning.

So, as we read we wonder what makes Peter and the rest of the 12 so different. Why them? Is it because they are more faith filled? Stronger? Tougher? Smarter? Dumber? More resilient? Foolish? What sets them apart? Now, before we look at that, we have to remember something else too. Peter and the rest aren’t really any different than those disciples who turned back. They too in fact will turn away from Jesus – they’ll deny, they’ll run away, they’ll be full of pride and arrogance too. They aren’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination. They’ll have their doubts and fears too.

So, if they aren’t any different than those others or even you and I – what makes them standout?

Well, look at what Peter says in response to Jesus as he questions them, “Do you also wish to go away?”

Peter’s response is, “No, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Peter and those others knew where to look. They didn’t put their trust in their intellect, or their skills, or their status among one another, they didn’t even rest solely on their faith. They looked to Jesus. They knew where to look.

They knew to look to the one that points to eternal life. Again and again in this conversation the subject continues to point back to that bread – that Bread of Life. That meal that gives life eternal. That meal surrounded in those promises that Christ dwells within us and we dwell within him.

As we look out into the world and question where Jesus’ real presence is, we know and have faith that as we look to this bread and wine that we can definitely find Jesus here. We will find God in Christ Jesus there for us. This bread and this wine – this body and blood – that Jesus offers to us and for us.

Of course, Jesus is indeed present in those other aspects of our lives as well. We as followers of Christ have faith that the world beats with God’s activity and presence. We know that God is present not only in creation around us, but also in the life of our family, in the machinations of our government, within the community of faith here in this place. God is both present and active in our lives. Helping sustain and actively creating throughout all of creation.

It’s at this point that I usually like to tell and remind people that living the life as a Christian isn’t easy. And I think when we’re honest with ourselves we know that to be true. It can be downright difficult at times to see God in the places around us. With more news of shootings, incredible violence both in our country and around the world, the rupture in relationships between friends, family and faith communities, the corruption that seems to exist in so many levels of government, protection, and business. The world that continues to beat us down with messages that we are not enough, that we need more.

As each of those messages become louder and louder – pounding in our ears – blurring our vision of God at work in the world – it becomes very easy to lose sight of the sacraments of this meal and in the waters of our baptism. Where it becomes difficult to hear the promises in this bread and wine – those promises of forgiveness, acceptance, of love, of life.

Yet, in spite of that increasing ‘noise’ in our lives the sacraments are still here. That as we come to worship each and every Sunday we know that if nothing else – we will find the gospel in this meal. We may not be in a place to listen or hear the gospel in the sermon, the music, or the liturgy when we come into this space for worship. But, BUT – we know and remember that we can and will find Christ in this bread and in this wine.

That even in our most desperate times in life we know that we can look to this meal and be filled with the bread of life. Where even in those moments when all seems lost and we might feel abandoned in so many ways, we look to the bread of life that Jesus offers to us and for us and know that we are loved. We know that we are not abandoned. As Jesus has given his life for each of us. Diving into relationship with us. Residing in us. Filling us to be sent out to proclaim that if anything – Christ is here in this meal, in these waters.

Because let’s face it – no matter how zealous and ardent we are in our faith there will be times that we are beaten down. Where the question of why creeps into our thoughts and minds. Where the temptation to turn back will be very easy to make.

In those moments, we remember the meal that has been offered to us. This gift of life that has been given to us from God in Jesus Christ our Lord. That we can come here and are assured that this promise rests in this meal and that we get to eat and drink. Remembering in that meal that we are fed, we are forgiven, and that we are sent.

Where we are filled up so that we can continue to point others here to this place and to this meal and to these waters. Living this life as a follower of Christ isn’t easy, it really isn’t – but, we are promised that Christ is here with us – especially in this meal and in these waters of baptism. We cling to those promises and those Words so that we might withstand those terrible days and fully live into those days of joy – all of it bringing us into this new and renewed life that God offers to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen!

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