11th Sunday After Pentecost, August 5, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Did any of you go on day trips when you were younger? Where did you go? What did you do for meals? When I was a child, we would go for day trips, or â€œrides,â€ as we called them. Mom would pack up the picnic basket with sandwiches and cucumbers and cookies and the cooler with iced tea, and off we would go. We never went very far as Connecticut is a small state â€“ a small state with many rural roadside picnic areas.
We would stop at one alongside a stream or brook and eat at the picnic tables and enjoy the food, nature, and conversation with one another. The meals were simple, but good, and we sat and enjoyed the surroundings and the company of one another. Then we would get back in the car and travel further. Simple, relaxed, but fun, and the time we spent together brought much contentment. Nothing rushed. Just calm and easy going.
Now, today, in my household, I get into trouble. A lot. You see my middle name used to be â€œPatience,â€ now itâ€™s â€œHurry Up.â€
I canâ€™t blame it on my parents, although my dad doesnâ€™t like waiting either. I blame my impatience on our society. Fast food came into fashion when I was an adolescent. Quick, and easy. Then came computers and life was rushed even more. Then after school activities which made families rush so much that they stopped eating together and talking together. Then came cellular phones. Phones with the ability to go on the internet no matter where you are. So families go out to supper together and sit staring at their phones instead of talking to one another. We have forgotten how to relate to one another, let alone how to relate to God.
Dashing through meals isnâ€™t healthy for us either. Rushed eating can cause indigestion and other issues.
This Sunday begins for us the long series of â€œI am the bread of lifeâ€ lessons from Johnâ€™s Gospel. Last week we heard of Jesus feeding the 5,000 who had come out to hear him teach and this week we hear about many of the same people following Jesus, looking for more. Theyâ€™re not bad people. They are just people who got a quick food fix, an easy, free meal, and want more.
They donâ€™t understand the miracle of the feeding, they just want to follow the guy who gave them a simple, basic, and free meal.
Not bad people, but perhaps a bit shallow, with no depth of understanding of life, and having no meaning or purpose to their lives.
Right now, all that they want from Jesus are quick and easy answers, and simple, basic free food. We can see from the conversation that he has with them, that they donâ€™t really get who he is other than a teacher who feeds their bodies. Iâ€™m not sure they care at this point so long as the basic need of food is met.
Jesus tells them, â€œVery truly, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs of the greatness of Godâ€™s kingdom, but because you ate your fill of the meal.â€ He also tells them not to spend so much time on food that perishes but spend it on the food that endures eternally, which he will give them.
Their concern was more for their immediate needs and desires than for the future or for eternity, and how they will spend eternity.
I think if we stop to think about it, we can all see some similarities to today. We worry less about what is to come then we do about what we have in front of us, the food, the stuff, the riches. We certainly do not worry about what we will leave behind us, what the world we leave behind us will be like for those yet to come.
Jesus is telling the people to go deeper. Donâ€™t lead a shallow existence, but go deeper, especially in the faith. Accomplishing even good things for the benefit of others and society, while good, are meaningless if we do not have the depth of faith to back them up. Shallowness is the quick, cheap meal when what Jesus wants to feed us is the very bread of Life, that is he. It is a homemade bread that requires work and time to make the dough, to knead it and stretch it, to proof it and finally to bake and cool it and to serve it. It takes time and cannot be hurried. It takes time to develop, much like our relationship with our loving God, or any relationship in life.
We gather here each week to worship. We worship, not our selves, but our God who by his loving grace sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to save us. We gather here to deepen our relationship with God through our voices being raised together to honor him.
Is it really too much to ask of us to take the time getting to know God and his plan for our lives by worshipping together weekly?
By studying the word of God together with one another? Jesus is telling us to go deeper.
Our connection with God cannot be rushed. It isnâ€™t a simple sandwich, or bread or fish. It is free though. God freely loves us all. Our relationship with God requires time, it requires being in fellowship with one another, and providing support to one another.
Slow down. Donâ€™t eat so fast. Take the time for face to face conversation. Really get to know each other. Take the time to know God deeply and intimately.
Most of all, worship with us as we offer our prayers, our praise and thanksgiving, to our God who loves us deeply.