So we are eating yet again because “Turkey Day” is upon us. It has been a while since I have had turkey with all the fixings. I am looking forward to it since it has been a long time and I like to be fed... don’t you? Yet Jesus challenges those around him not to seek and satisfy with a meal that will not last forever. We are not just here to eat our fill or “stog our gobs”. We are challenged to consider our appetites and how we fill them. And we are called on to consider more than where the next meal might be coming from.
So what do we need to do to get a meal that is going to last? It has occurred to me that there is a parallel here between a regular meal and the Eucharist. Where else can you go aside from Church, and get a meal that is going to last you a whole week? Where do we get the strength, the vision and the drive to be the Church of Christ in the world, if it is not from the Eucharist? To get spiritual and therefore imperishable food, one must put one’s trust, faith and hope in the person of Jesus Christ. We are the community of God and we are expected and required to participate in the person and life of Christ.
Need a reason to participate in Christ? Want a sign that Jesus is the one to trust? Jesus himself points out that we don’t need to have someone stand between God and ourselves, mediating your relationship with God. God responds to you and your prayers. You need to learn recognize those responses and that is done at the table with those who are in the journey with you and I. Where we eat is where we pray. Where we pray is where we share the load with our fellow sojourners. Moreover, there is the issue of where does life itself come from. If life comes from God (and we believe as Christians that it does) and we are to participate in Jesus, then doesn't that make Jesus God? I believe so.
The people demand the eternal bread as if it is a commodity to be traded and bartered with when in fact it is a gift. “Give us this bread!” the people demand of Jesus. Jesus points out that they have him – “I am the Bread which has come down from heaven”... so it as true spiritually as it is physically: we are what we eat. But this then means that we must seek Christ in order to eat and to live. So why do you seek Christ? Is it because you like to have your fill, or because you seek life in his name? What you do with Jesus is an everyday table matter. It is also a matter of eternity: what will you do with Jesus? Jesus is the gift of God for the people of God. Jesus is the bread of life not just for you, but for your congregation and your city through you also.
And to be sure, on this weekend when we stop to give thanks for all of God’s good gifts that we find around us, some of those gifts are disruptive just like Jesus himself. God’s truth disrupts our systematic dishonesty and sin. God’s grace upsets our stingy selfishness. God’s mercy dislocates our hardened hearts to give hearts of flesh to deal with our predilection towards indifference to both God and neighbour. God’s justice disrupts and exposes our unjust nature, relationships and ways with both God and neighbour.
The gift of God’s presence through bread and wine disrupts our ideas and thoughts of what is normal and right as well as our trends towards complacency and self involvement. We need to stop and recognize this thanksgiving that our hands were empty and then God, our God filled them, allowing us to give and to serve others.
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above – will you open yourselves to receive what God wants to give to you so that in turn, you might give thanks back to God and give to his people? Is about the harvest and giving thanks, yes! But it must also make us raise our expectation that the kingdom and the Eternal City are coming - after all another, much better feast awaits.
Happy Thanksgiving. Its time to get to the table!