Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You are what you eat! Ordinary 20, Year B

This Week's Lectionary Texts:
1 Kings 2:10-3:14 or Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 111 or Psalm 34:9-14
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

This Week's Reflection:
I read the gospel lesson aloud for a prayer group on Monday. I haven't wanted to deal with it since. Why in the world would Jesus say to people, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you"? Doesn't he know how much trouble we have explaining ourselves in the first place? We do not need any reference to vampirism being made to make the Church look worse than it already does. Of course, in these days of teens' love affairs with vampires, we may have find a new marketing point!

I would much rather focus on Solomon's desire for wisdom and how that could help our congregations or how the writer of Ephesians lifts up the idea of being wise as important and seems to point us to worship as the most important and wise thing we can do. The Psalms even point us in this direction.

Jesus Christ The Bread of Life, Nun Glykeria

So, what is a preacher (or teacher, or student) to do with this passage from John? I'll tell you what I want to do with it, but I don't think you will like it. It is far easier for me to think of these words as being created by the writer of John in reference to the early Christians ritual of The Lord's Supper. This in no way reduces the power for me and I believe should it have been the case that the Holy Spirit provided the words. That is an easy way to explain it - that Jesus would not have stood up thinking that it made a lick of sense to say, "Hey, here I am, come and eat my body and drink my blood," but instead, there was a creative writer inspired by the Holy Spirit to write in such a way to help us connect Jesus to the Eucharist.

Let's, for a moment, though decide that these words were actually said by the Christ. (And, let me make sure you understand that I believe they are the Word of God whether they were said by Jesus in his lifetime or not.) What, then, are we do make of it? It is so weird. How would we explain this to a person who has watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and read every word of the Twilight Series, but never stepped foot in a church or even know what the Bible is? It would be great if you could really answer that question for me. 
Because here is all I have:
I don't understand it. It is hard for me to put myself in the time period in which Jesus lived, to know the metaphors that would have been common use during that time, and Jesus seems to speak in riddles most of the time anyway! Here is what I do understand. Jesus is the son of God and he was willing to come to this earth, live this crazy, mixed up life that we live, and be tortured and killed. Somehow, miraculously, that was for us, all of us! And, because he was resurrected, we are assured of eternal life when we take him in with all that we are. In other words, you are what you eat. And, if we can consume all that we can of Jesus the Christ, then we begin to nourish this world. It is clearly the wisest way to go.