Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27, 2009 "Glorious Food"

Pizza ranks high on the list. So does ice cream. But there are surprises. Salad sometimes makes the top ten. And once oatmeal ranked high.

When I teach children who are preparing to receive communion, one of the first things we do is talk about food. And of course an easy intro is to get the kids to list their favorite foods.

Food holds a high place in the scriptures. God tells Adam and Eve about the foods they can eat. And it is a forbidden food that gets them in trouble. A few generations later Esau sells out to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. That same Jacob tricks his father Isaac with another dish.

When the people of Israel are called to leave Egypt, God tells them to hold a special meal. And when they are in the desert and need food he gives them manna six days a week.

In today’s reading from John 6 we read: 57 (Jesus said) “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.”

John’s gospel is full of allusions to the first five books of the bible. In today’s lesson, we run into another of those allusions. Jesus claims to be the new manna, the new bread from heaven.

When I was a child growing up in the Episcopal Church, communion was forbidden to children until they had been confirmed, usually as late elementary or junior high kids. But I can remember desperately wishing that I could have communion. When I asked, the answer was, “not until you are old enough to understand it.”

I am 54, and I still don’t understand. But I do believe. I cannot explain how the forbidden fruit of the garden is redeemed by the fruit of Christ. I cannot explain how the Passover lamb becomes Jesus the Lamb of God. I cannot explain how the sin offering in Leviticus become the crucified Christ. And I cannot explain how the thank offering in the same book becomes the living bread, the living presence of Christ.

Oneof my favorite movie scenes,(click here for the Youtube clip), of all time is from "Antwone Fisher". In the clip a young boy stands in a field before a closed barn door. Then he is ushered in past ranks of people, and seated at the head of a vast table. For me it is image of what happens to us when we come to the Lord’s table.

When I come to communion, I know that I am being fed and nurtured, mothered and fathered by God, united to a great host of people, living on earth and living on heaven. I know that as we celebrate the Lord’s supper that somehow we are connected to the great table in heaven, and that Jesus, and the Father, and the Spirit stand, eyes blazing with joy and love saying, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Amen.

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