John 6:35, 41-51 – The 11th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 9, 2015

“The Jewish opposition grumbled about him because he said, “I am the bread of life that came down from heaven.” (John 6:41)

“Some People Following Jesus” – Gary Bunt (oil on canvas)
“Some People Following Jesus” – Gary Bunt (oil on canvas)

Call me a grumbler.

It’s as if the Jesus in John’s Gospel referred to me when criticizing the Jews and their questions.

They grumbled about him claiming to “come from heaven.”

They grumbled because he was the “bread of life.” (Indeed, in the verses following today’s Gospel reading, the “Jewish opposition”—as John labeled them—grumbled about eating Jesus’ flesh. Fools! Didn’t those no-nothings know anything about metaphors?)

The opposition grumbled about him being anything other than Joseph and Mary’s son, a country bumpkin from a backwater town in a backwater region of the Roman Empire who became a rabble-rouser, a hero to a few and an irritant to most.

While the Jewish opposition’s grumbles aren’t really my grumbles, I do grumble: about the elusive and enigmatic Jesus; about how some—including, frankly, me—act as if they possess secret knowledge on God’s thoughts. Continue reading →

The Mystery of God’s Abundance

John 6:24-35 – The 10th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 2, 2015

“Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life . . .” (John 6:35)

communion.2I can’t remember the tenth or hundredth time I served communion, but I recall the first.

Picture an immense cathedral. Add a gathering of sojourners, eagerly listening to the quiet words of preparation for the “living bread” of the Lord’s Supper. Imagine the expectation, the longing. Some awaiting the cup and bread know each other; some, until recently, were strangers. The bread, as usual, was simple. The cup, as usual, held enough for everyone.

But don’t imagine fresh bread. And please, don’t figuratively sample my memory and start tasting sweet grape juice or a spirited sip of wine. Before my first official communion as a United Methodist minister, which occurred mere days following ordination, I had to ask a critical question: Continue reading →

And Yet We See Our Own Faces

2 Samuel 11:1-15 – The 9th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, July 26, 2015

“Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:15)

It’s almost like the Almighty sits on the fifty yard line, waving an oversized We’re #1 foam finger . . .
It’s almost like the Almighty sits on the fifty yard line, waving an oversized We’re #1 foam finger . . .

Last week I read Psalm 89:20-37. If you follow the Lectionary, you did too. Maybe you used that Psalm for a sermon or ignored it. Maybe, when you read Psalm 89, it was for the first time.

Or, if you’re in the majority of the world’s card-carrying adults, you don’t know about or don’t care about the Lectionary. Regardless, let me refresh your week-old memory of the Psalms (or share a completely new verse with you):

Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. (Psalm 89:35)

The “I” used twice in the above verse is the very Holy “I.” Which is to say, depending on your pronoun proclivities, the “I” is God him or her self. And this one verse is representative of last week’s Psalm lesson. Word after word and verse after verse, Psalm 89 depicts the Holy gushing about King David. It’s almost like the Almighty sits on the fifty yard line, waving an oversized We’re #1 foam finger, while David strides, tall and proud, toward the middle of the field. Continue reading →