Nourishment from God

Reverend Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Proper 13

John 6:24-35

August 5, 2018 – Year B

Nourishment from God

         Growing up my sister and I usually took care of ourselves after school.  My mom was a hard-working single parent, so when my sister and I got home from school, we were on our own.  Don’t get me wrong, my mom had set up a system where we checked in with her at work, got a snack, did any chores assigned, and either did homework or had time to play.  One of my favorite things to do was go ride my bike around the neighborhood. 

         I had several places I enjoyed visiting on my bike, so off I’d go.  One of my favorites was the home of my Great Aunt and Uncle who lived near by us.  Usually Uncle Ed would answer the door and Aunt Elizabeth would call me into the kitchen for an afternoon snack. 

         Their home was simple house, but it was one of the loveliest homes I knew.  As you came in the door, your nose and heart filled with the smell of something wonderful that had just come out of the oven.  Uncle Ed usually greeted me with a huge grin and always had a joke to tell me, and Aunt Elizabeth enveloped me in her arms soaking me in love.  She would tell me to sit myself down at the table, and the three of us would have a slice of her famous pound cake and a glass of cold milk.  I swear, somehow Aunt Elizabeth always seemed to have a freshly baked pound cake just waiting for someone to stop by. 

         For me sitting at that table with Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ed sharing our slices of pound cake and drinking our cold glasses of milk was heaven on earth.  Life could get no better!  We laughed – we talked – and we shared time together.  Those visits are some of my happiest memories – memories steeped in love and life. 

         In our Newsletter this week, I encouraged you to spend time each day reading a portion of today’s Gospel.  For those who missed it, the portion I spoke of was this:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

         I asked for each of us to sit down, daily if possible, to take a few minutes – read the passage once, then twice and possibly a third time and notice what captured your eye or your attention.  Let me read it once more.  What captures you in this moment ?

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

         There is no right or wrong answer to the question of what stands out to you.  There is no right or wrong way to experience this message from Jesus,  just like there is no right or wrong way to experience the Eucharist we will share here today. 

         What is interesting to me, is the exchange between the people and Jesus described right before this passage.  Let’s back track for a second.  The day before this encounter, Jesus and his disciples had just turned 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish into enough food to feed 5,000.  The people…who are speaking to Jesus in today’s Gospel…had literally just been fed by Jesus. 

         In this exchange, they bombarded him with question after question demanding he give them the answers they want.   Show us – give us – prove to us you are who you say you are.  That is what they wanted.  

         Yet they missed the very point he was making.  They battered him with questions as if they were starving for proof, for some sign or assurance that IF they trusted him…IF they trusted in God’s presence and bounty that they would not starve – that their pain – their fears – their stress would be taken away and their bellies would feel full. 

         With each question, Jesus responded with the same message – it is not food you seek…it is love…it is God.

         Just like the people in today’s Gospel, we too can fall prey from time to time to our fears, our pain, our stress, our world, and in those moments, we question where God is.  In those moments, we too are hungry and are searching for something or someone to soothe our discomfort.  Jesus is telling us today that no amount of food – no amount of miracles – no type of assurances can soothe our hunger or quench our thirst if what we seek is of this world.  It is through turning to God – trusting that God is here with us every step of the way – discerning and living out the life God calls us to live  - we find nourishment for our souls. 

         Eating is such a fitting illustration here.  Every living thing on this planet requires nourishment  - food of some type.  It fuels our bodies and sustains us.  I’m guessing most of us can think of a happy memory or two involving food - a shared meal or a family tradition of some sort.  A smile may cross our lips or joy may enter our heart.   Jesus is not questioning those memories.  He is trying to help us link what we’ve known…to what we can experience when opening ourselves up to God and God’s love.

         My Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ed didn’t have a lot of money or fancy belongings.  On those visits to their home, we sat around a simple table in the middle of their small kitchen, but what they shared with me meant so much.  They taught me about family and belonging.  They taught me that I was lovable and that I mattered. 

         How is God inviting you in and trying to feed you?  Are you surviving on crumbs or are you allowing yourself to receive God’s warm, life-giving bread? 

         It can be a hard choice at time.  And that’s okay.  And it’s also okay to reach out to God and accept that which is being offered – that which feeds us in a way that fills our souls and reminds us that we are loved – that we belong and that we need not hunger or thirst any longer.  Amen


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