Our passages today focus on reconciliation, the hard work of forgiveness. It might not look that way at first glance, as the passages have more finger pointing in them than words of forgiveness. However, if you dig deeper you will find that the theme of forgiveness and the restoration of relationships is at the heart of the passage.
Scripture: John 6: 35, 41-51
The ladies of the Church are gathering for an informal meeting on Tuesday August 10th at 1:30pm under the covered picnic area at the east side of Victoria Park. We are getting 6-8 ladies each time and so nice to be able to visit and see some smiling faces.
All are welcome.
Ever reach into your pocket and find a $20 bill that you had forgotten about? How good does that feel?
Suddenly, you can perhaps buy that item you were considering or treat yourself to lunch out. Perhaps you share in the generosity by purchasing something for someone you care about or making a donation to a cause that is close to your heart.
Either way it feels good to discover that little bonus. It was always there, you were just unaware of it. Perhaps you left it in your coat last winter, maybe you left it in your pants pocket and discovered it after doing the wash. Whatever the instance, the money was always there, our minds were simply not focused on it.
God is a little like that too. God’s always there, but sometimes our mind isn’t focused in on God. We get distracted by the busyness of life. We engage in an activity that we enjoy and suddenly much of the other items in life fall to the wayside as we pursue that goal. But God is always there, perhaps cheering us on from the sidelines, perhaps providing that burst of energy that we need. God is there and God is providing for us, whether we see it or not and whether we understand it or not.
Scripture is full of stories where God provides.
When the Israelites were held captive in Egypt, God provided a way out under the leadership of Moses. They were able to escape their captivity and discover freed.
It took them awhile, they followed Moses around for 40 years in the dessert. However, I think that has less to do with God being willing to provide and more with the state of mind of the people as a whole. Still God didn’t abandon them, instead providing them with mana from heaven.
If we search through scripture we can find other stories that reflect God’s goodness and desire to help. The story of the Israelites and their pilgrimage through the desert leads directly to our passage from John. We pick up where we left off last week, with Jesus uttering the words ‘I Am the bread of life.”
The connection that John is making in this gospel account is that Jesus is the manna in the wilderness. The very thing come down from heaven to feed us.
There is a lot going on in this passage. Mostly it has to do with the peoples inability to understand what is happening. Jesus isn’t making a lot of sense to them and this is clouded by their misunderstanding of God’s purposes.
First the people complain about who Jesus is. Isn’t this the son of Mary and Joseph? Who is this guy to say such things? You’ll notice that Jesus does not address the complaint about his identity, instead he moves on and seeks to drive home his point about the bread which will sustain us all.
In doing so Jesus foreshadows his own death when he states, “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Jesus is talking to the people about God’s purposes in sending him. That the bread which sustained their ancestors is now before them and that through Christ’s death we will be sustained.
What we see in our passage is the struggle with what Jesus is teaching, not about bread but about what God offers in this life and the next. Not only do people struggle with this message, but some find it offensive.
The people keep talking about signs but refuse to see the one that is in front of them. What signs is God putting up in our lives that we aren’t seeing or that we refuse to see? What signs is God putting up in our lives that we see loud and clear that are life bringing and world changing?
I don’t mean world changing via some global event, but world changing within your world. The sphere of people that you associate with, your family and friends? What ways is God calling you to love and live better, in deeper and more meaningful ways? How might this time of reopening allow you to see the opportunities that are in front of you better because for so long now we’ve had no choice but to keep distant?
How might these opportunities change your life and deepen your relationship with God?
The people wanted signs and though he spoke in parables, Jesus made it clear that the sign was right in front of them. The people simply didn’t have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, nor the hearts to believe. They were befuddled by their own doubt.
Our task in the world today is to clear the mud from our eyes and attempt to see things clearly.
I’m currently reading Metamorphosis: Preaching after Christendom by Sarah Travis. She argues that the church in this current time needs to she the vestiges of the past in order to look to the future of the church. And that the future church may not and perhaps should not look like it once did. She draws upon Canadian theologian Douglass John Hall, “the church does have a future, one that is faithful to the original vision of the movement and of immense service to our beleaguered world … But in order to have that future, we Christians must stop trying to have the kind of future that nearly sixteen centuries of official Christianity in the Western world have conditioned us to covet. With disestablishment of Western Christianity and the end of Christian hegemony, the church is faced with an emergency – a crisis of identity.” (Travis, Sarah Metamorphosis: Preaching after Christendom. 2019. p41).
We can ask the question what signs might be right before us as individuals that we are missing? We can also ask, what signs are before the church that we might be missing? I believe these questions are pertinent given the time we are in. The year and a half of lockdowns and social distancing we have endured. Our lives and relationships have been fractured, as has the society we participate in. As we emerge from this period, what signs has God put before us? Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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