It’s another week of Home Church, where I got to sleep in and read the Bible. In my regular Bible reading, I’m in Matthew 25 (my favorite chapter ever!). With this weeks’ lectionary, though, we are in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 24-35. Here, Jesus compares himself to the manna that God gave while the Israelites were wandering through the desert for forty years. The disciples ask Jesus to give this bread of life always, and Jesus explains how he IS the bread of life:
24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which[a] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
In essence, we must feed off Jesus.
Without that sounding cannibalistic, we must understand what this means. In Mormonism, feeding off of Jesus means eating up his words in the Bible. In Lutheranism, it means eating the literal body and blood (bread and wine) of Christ at communion. In Methodism, it means accepting and feeding off the means of grace through the symbolic blood and body of Christ at communion.
But what does it mean to feed off the manna of Christ in the Disciples of Christ tradition? It essence, two of these examples. Communion is a time to remember Christ for his sacrifice, our pledge to follow God’s Son at Baptism, and to celebrate his glorious return. It’s a reminder that, even though the bread and wine are symbolic, they represent so much. They represent, for one, that we are forgiven, that Christ did the ultimate deed and made us white as snow at baptism. So when we feed off of the symbolic bread and wine, we feed on the Good News – that we are forgiven.
We also feed off Christ’s words in the Gospels. What Christ taught, we should emulate (such as Matthew 25 – to care for the least of these) and teach our children, such as loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Lastly, especially in our tradition, we should feed on the presence of Christ. Christ is the giver of Eternal Life, and all who come to Him he will never deny. Whoever comes to Christ will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty. Christ is our best friend, and we should always come to Him. And if we ever lose faith in Christ, we are always welcomed back with open arms, even if we had sacrificed our salvation for only a little while (or 20 years)!
So feed on Christ. Feed on his words, his symbolic supper and all that it entails, and his presence in our lives as our friend and giver of Eternal Life. He is truly the Manna given by the Father for all who seek God and Christ!
Alleluia and Amen.
Love, Leigh Todd.