Signs and Breads and Faith
In the Christian faith we talk about bread often. We use phrases such as bread of life, bread of God which comes down from heaven, and eternal bread. In most cultures, bread is the staple of life. In some cases, it is all some get to eat for daily sustenance.
On August 5th, we will be looking at the story of Jesus describing the "spiritual nature of bread" that is life-giving and never spoils. Unfortunately, the people who heard these words were looking for something special, something spectacular that would be a sign to them that this "bread of life" was like not other bread they had tasted. As Kathryn Matthews states:
"The people ask for signs and bread, and Jesus talks about faith. Not just faith, actually, but bread, too, but not bread in the same sense that the people mean. He exhorts them to have faith, to believe, in the bread that God gives right there, right before their eyes, because God has given them Jesus himself. This is not an easy thing to grasp, so they try to figure out what they have to do in order to get this bread "that endures for eternal life" (v. 27)."
The late preacher and scholar Fred Craddock adds: "...they still want to be in charge, even of faith itself. Show us a sign, we will see, we will weigh the evidence, we will draw the conclusions, and we might even decide to believe (v. 30)" (Preaching through the Christian Year B)
Does that sound like us, at least sometimes? We want to be in control — whether it is what and where we eat or whether it is how we want our faith to work in such a way that we will believe if we witness something special or spectacular. Unfortunately, this spiritual journey does not "rise and fall" (yes, that is a breads reference) on what we believe, but who we believe gives us life to the fullest. Our deepest hunger is for the authentic living bread, Jesus himself.
Speaking of bread, have you heard these before?
Q: Why are bread jokes always funny?
A: Because they never get mold!
Q: What does bread do after it is done baking?
A: Loaf around.
Q. Do you know where Panera takes their injured sandwiches?
A. The Mayo Clinic.
I am glad I will be gone until August 5th so you forget about these jokes before I see you next! Until then, I will be loafing around at the Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tournament in Ohio...Sorry.