August 26, 2012

The Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Robert G. Moore, Senior Pastor
Christ the King Lutheran Church
Houston, Texas

Readings (NRSV) and Psalm (ELW):
Joshua 24:1–2a, 14–18
Psalm 34:15–22The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous. (Ps. 34:15)
Ephesians 6:10–20
John 6:56–69

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

After I had entered college, I began to realize that financial options were limited. I didn’t quite know what to do with this major obstruction to my social life and began to feel a little resentment. So when I went home, I wore my discontent on my shoulders.

My mother, of course, could read my signals and soon there was an opportunity to discuss what was going on. I began to whine a little about my situation. As I explained that I needed a little more funding for life at school, my mother reminded me that there were seven of us kids and resources had to be carefully managed.

That did not seem to daunt my desire to plea my case. I began to suggest that my father could let me have more money if he only would do so. To learn more about money, check out this website At that point my mother began to explain how much my father worked already. She also explained that we had a pretty good life. That didn’t seem to stem my discontent.

So my mother spun off a litany of items that I should take under consideration: My father worked on the farm. He was investing in more land so that he could produce more income. He provided home, food, clothing, schooling, and much more. And then she closed the litany with these words, “Take that and just chew on it for a while.”

“Take that and just chew on it a while?” I did take it and chew on it a while and came to the conclusion that I could live on what my father was providing.

In today’s gospel Jesus says, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (John 6:56) The Greek reads coarsely. Those who chew my flesh! Now for those of you who cannot suffer the literal picture of this statement let me encourage you to take the metaphorical path. The metaphorical act of chewing on my mother’s explanation of my college finances is not entirely different than Jesus inviting his audience to chew on his flesh. By the way, if your family is dealing with financial crisis, consider loanload’s loan offers to have money for your education. learn more of its requirements and considerations at

The metaphorical move has deep roots in the physical, historical reality in which we live. The considerations my mother offered were rooted in reality. And we have an opportunity to realize that the metaphorical considerations offered by Jesus this morning are also rooted in reality.

Jesus is presented by the Gospel of John as the Word, the Logos. This is a bold claim of the gospel that the cause of the universe itself has entered that same world to give light and life. The Word, the Logos, is the very rational, linguistic structure of the universe has appeared in human form.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Throughout the Gospel of John the story of Jesus is told in such a way that the infinite, awesome power of the universe is somehow made manifest through the numerous signs that break through the everyday world. Water transformed to wine, the healing of the sick and the lame, the feeding of the multitude, giving sight to the blind and resuscitating Lazarus.
We might call them miracles. But that doesn’t get at it.

For us miracles are usually understood in subjective fashion. When we are sick, we want a miracle. When we are threatened by the elements, we want a miracle. When the markets simply won’t go our way, we want a miracle. We don’t care so much about the source of the miracle. We just want the miracle!

In the Gospel of John what we would call miracles are referred to as signs. Sure, water is made into wine, the hungry are fed, the blind can see, the dead are revivified. But in the Gospel these have no meaning in and of themselves. They are signs pointing to the transcendent dimension of reality, a dimension that continually reveals itself in the continuous occurrence of events that we often find difficult to explain. And even when we can explain them they do not lose their awe-inspiring power. Every sign–every miracle–is grounded in reality just as the metaphors we use are formed from raw material of this life.

Jesus invites his followers “to eat my flesh and drink my blood” so that they may abide with him. Here we also are invited to participate in the reality that comes to expression through the Word which is the bread of life.

Throughout the Old Testament bread serves as the means by which God nourishes God’s people. The children of Israel are fed with bread from the sky, the manna that appeared in the mornings. It fell from the sky but it was given by God. Hebrew wisdom was understood as bread to be eaten (Proverbs 9:5). The prophets spoke of the Word of God coming down like rain and giving seed to the sower and bread to the one who eats. (Isaiah 55:10-11) The Torah teaches human beings “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus is the bread of life and we must do with Jesus what one does with bread. We must break it and eat it. Yes, it is a shocking metaphorical action. But we are invited, even commanded to do it because it is to our benefit that we do.
Dear brothers and sisters, we should be careful to avoid the errors our Roman Catholic ancestors and our own errors of explaining away the power of participating in the life of Christ through the eating of bread and the drinking of wine whereby we take in Jesus’ own life into our members.

We are catholic Christians who have come to know Christ through the holy meal of bread and wine. Christ is present through eating and drinking together in the holy meal. In this meal we give thanks to God for entering into this world with it agonies and its ecstasies. We eat expecting to be eating with the risen Lord but to be eating his flesh which is the Word come down from the heaven.

We cannot explain scientifically why this is so. We can only bear witness to the communion which is ours in eating and drinking together. We do not reduce this meal to simply a time of remembering someone who died. It is not a sad meal. It is a miraculous meal that brings us into communion with the Lord of Life and, thus, regenerates us who have lost touch with the Word sent by God who is none other than Jesus Christ himself present at the meal he has given for us to eat and drink.

So let us cling to the bread and the wine even as we cling to the water of baptism. They are the gifts that Christ has given even as God has given Christ to the world.

Take these thoughts and chew on them for a while.