Thursday, July 27, 2006
Family Visits and Some Beginning Sunday Sermon Ramblings
We've been having some wonderful days here while my brother is visiting. Not only that, but I've actually been able to get some decent studying done, too! I finished up my stint in the church office on Tuesday--and freed up my energy to turn my attention to my Comps again. Seeing as how I'm planning to take my next exam a week from today, I'd say it's about time!
Yesterday we stuck close to home while I got some work done. My brother wandered down to our "upscale bohemian" shopping district and enjoyed people watching for a while. He's hoping to bring his sketchbook down again tomorrow and do some drawing.
Today we headed into The City to do a couple classic touristy things. Very fun, though somehow tiring! We're home for just a little bit before we head again to take E to his hockey clinic. I think I'll bring a book along with me and try to get a little reading done there.
In the meantime I'm trying to find my hook into this Sunday's lectionary text--since I'm preaching! I've been doing lots of thinking and reading--and have several directions that are calling to me at once. Just can't find the entry point.
The text is John 6:1-21. I'm drawn to a couple things: the first thing that excited me was a brief essay written by the liturgical historian Teresa Berger who points out that the same Greek verb is used in the section where Jesus commands the disciples to "gather the fragments that none may be lost" as in John 3:16 "that none should perish." This is an exciting connection--I love the notion of Jesus not wanting any of the "fragments" whether left over food or lost "souls" to be lost or (gulp) left behind.
But I also am drawn to a sacramental interpretation of the texts--likely because my exam next week is at least in part about sacramentality. I love the images of eucharist and baptism that are present in the lectionary text (as Jesus not only feeds the 5000 but then proceeds to walk on the stormy sea). I love the confrontation of death, whether by starvation or chaotic drowning--and Jesus' upflappibility in the midst of it. When it gets paired with the Ephesians text, which talks about the fullness of life--well, I am moved to think of how we are called into abundant life: life in God. I love the paradox of our dying with Christ in baptism which opens us to abundant living today. We die to live.
Finally, I am recognizing that there is a tendancy to "spiritualize" the bread--and the gospel encourages this to some extent as Jesus will say shortly (in next week's lectionary text) that he is "the bread of life." And yet, it was with real bread and real fish that Jesus fed the people--not a spiritual bread that filled their longing. And yet. It is a spiritual nourishment that we receive. That is to say, we need both. (We don't live by bread alone after all.) The fear of spiritualizing the feeding miracle is rooted, perhaps, in a false dualism that pits the body against the spirit--spiritual versus the material. But these two are inseparable!
So you see, these are the directions I want to pursue, but I think I'm going to have to choose only one. Unless somehow they are all related.