Tony E Dillon Hansen
12 August 2018
A reflection based upon 2 Samuel 18:5-33 • Psalm 34 • Ephesians 4:25-5:2 • John 6:35,41-51
Will you pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer. Amen.
I remember growing up every year there was a broadcast of a movie called Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is constantly dreaming of a wonderful place “over the rainbow” only to find herself there and realize there is a complicated world there too that ha characters looking suspiciously like people from Kansas. I was always scared of the tornado that propels Dorothy into Oz. I remember watching with intensity as the band grew together on the journey to the Emerald City along the yellow brick road. Actually I was a bit disappointed when the Wizard reveals his true self.
For today, I would like for us to consider a reason why Jesus uses the words “I am”, a predicate nominative. When Jesus reveals who he is, we won’t be disappointed.
With that let’s recap…
It is near Passover. Jesus has performed a couple signs like feeding five thousand and walking on water. Now, there is something like a paparazzi of a crowd that is following Jesus everywhere. Jesus has become something of a rock star. Still, people are not satisfied; they want more.
The people see striking parallels to the stories of Moses in the wilderness. Yet, people have missed the point of the manna and the signs Jesus performs.
That is easy to do because people do this all of the time. We love signs, symbols and traditions, but we misread them. (Consider How many of you consider a stop sign on a deserted road to be a suggestion?) The people even get rude with Jesus. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach an important lesson.
The Sign of Manna.
Jesus wants us to look beyond the symbols and rhetoric. This is difficult for people because we as humanity love our symbols and rhetoric. With those bits, we use those things unfortunately to divide. We like to determine between who has versus has not; who knows and those who do not. (Clearly, if you know our traditions then you are one of us.)
Traditions have put obstacles to access to God. What is your sacrifice? Do you offer the correct animal? Did you honor the symbols correctly? Did you purify yourself? Do you even know what that means?
Jesus flips the symbols.
Jesus flips tradition.
Instead of telling parables about someone else, Jesus uses a stronger example: himself.
Without the sharing of himself, God remains behind curtains in the temple or lurking over mountaintops. God in the wilderness with Moses is hard to see, hard to access. God’s image is even scary (like the “scary” Wizard of Oz that doesn’t want to be bothered.) That is quite different from what God really does because God loves each of us as a parent loves their children.
Jesus embraces and embodies the symbols and says the bread of God, the bread of life is right here. Specifically, “I am the bread of life” or “I am the living bread…”
So instead of being aloof in the sky and the mountains, Jesus tells us that God is right here, right now – inside. The purpose of the manna was to demonstrate that God is here and listening. God uses the bread to help us grow in love of God and neighbor.
The manna is how God shared fulfilling love. Love fulfills every day. Sharing involves community. This is the power of communion because God shares and wants people to share that love together. We are more than ourselves and lonely thoughts because we learn and grow together. Even more so, that shared love and community sustains us.
Further, it is no longer about privilege to access because when you say “I am” a child of God, you have access to that wisdom and community.
Think about it, “I am” is taking power from afar to right here in Jesus, in me and in you. We not only share that love, but we embrace and embody that love and community.
(The revelation of the Wizard of Oz was the lion had courage, the tin man had a heart and scarecrow had brain all along. The Wizard just provides symbols of that which they already had.) In our lesson,
Jesus is giving us permission. Jesus invites us to community and to embody God’s work in ourselves. Jesus gave us power to learn God personally.
Eating of the bread or manna is learning the love of God. One who trusts can be fulfilled in the community of love, of God. (Trust is faith -- that you will understand and be satisfied.)
Do you trust God to fill you with hope and inspiration?
Try it, just stop and breathe in and let God be!
Even more, how do you as a child of God, share with others?
How do you provide hope and inspiration to those around you?
You have been invited to the table to say “I am a child of God”. (How awesome is that?) When you have a seat at the table, you have power -- With power comes great responsibility.
This means that we do not just settle with only our own knowledge and experience to guide us. Our own is incomplete and does not give absolute answers or foolproof plans. God wants us to question the experience and share in community. Wisdom will be revealed to ones that trust (e.g. give oneself over to the Way of God.)
This Way and path is ready for us, and with faith, great will guide us on this journey of life. With Jesus, we are invited to participate in that community of wisdom-- with whole heart and “bread of life.” We can become that which God calls of us.
You and I are children of God, but how do we express that? how can I be the best that God has to offer?
Ephesians reminds us of a few ways we can express that life in community of God in this world. “…be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…”
Yes, “I am” one who knows pain – so did Jesus.
“I am” broken and sorry for my wrongs.
“I am” looking for answers, for hope.
“I am” one who fails.
And Yes, I am sharing my gifts
“I am” one who learns.
“I am” one who teaches, who creates,
“I am” one who laughs and cries.
“I am” one who gardens.
“I am” one who cooks.
“I am” a listener.
“I am” an expression of God’s love right here on Earth
I am a child of God.
Oh child, I believe you are!
(We don’t need to travel down yellow brick roads to find out who we are.)
Share what you are and be joyful.
Be God’s wonderful expression
and always remember that you are a worthy, beautiful child of God!
Thanks Be to God.