Monday, August 3, 2015

Sermon for August 2, 2015: Twinkies!

 This sermon was preached by Rev. Mark Peterson at Christ the King Lutheran church on Sunday, August 2, 2015.

Gospel: John 6:24-35

24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were [beside the sea,] 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 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.”

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
We are people Chosen to Proclaim. 

Chosen to Proclaim the goodness of God, and the goodness of God's abundant love for this world that God has created. 

Chosen to Proclaim Jesus Christ, who came into this broken world and save it from sin.

Chosen to Proclaim Jesus Christ, who is the light of this world, that the darkness cannot overcome.
Chosen to Proclaim Jesus Christ, who is our bread of life. 

To recap, and get caught-up with our Gospel story, from John chapter 6. Last week, we read about Jesus feeding 5000 people with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. We heard that not only were the people fed, but that there were 12 baskets of food left over after everyone had gotten their fill. This miracle took place by the city of Tiberius, and during the night, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, on foot, to the town of Capernaum. It is in Capernaum, where some of those who Jesus fed, finally find him, and his disciples, the next day. 

This is where our story picks up. The people approach Jesus, and he doesn't seem real excited to see them. He seems to have the feeling that I envision people who hand out samples at a grocery store have. They stand there and hand out free bites of food on a little stick to people, who really aren't interested in the product they are trying to sell, but more interested in getting a little free snack.

So, Jesus, has these folks in front of them, and he says to them, "Don't work for the food that perishes, but for the food that gives eternal life." On this front, I think we humans have done a pretty good job of working for food that doesn't perish. Indeed, we as a species have worked very hard and made a lot of advancements in creating food that doesn't perish, at least not as quickly as it used to. 
For instance, in this day and age, you can get fruit year round, like bright red strawberries in January or February. Strawberries that had only been picked a few days before, somewhere far away. And these ripe, red strawberries, last and last a lot longer than they used to. We've been able to manipulate food in such a way that it's conveniently there whenever we want it. 

Really, what we've done to food can be summed up and encapsulated in one item, and that is the Twinkie. Now, the Twinkies of today, look a little different then the ones that I had as a kid, I don't know what happened to the cowboy twinkie with the hat and the lasso, but anyway. The thing about the Twinkie though, is that it is rumored to have a very long shelf life, to maybe even last forever. (To be honest, I did google the shelf life of a twinkie, and rumors of it's longevity appear not to be true, however I won't let the facts get in the way of a good sermon.) So, for our intents and purposes, we're going to say the Twinkie lasts forever, and in it, we see that we've done a pretty good job of creating a food system that doesn't perish. 

BUT, I can assure you, that the Twinkie, is not the Bread of Life. It's the bread of many health issues later on. 

As we humans have created this system of food, we've taken away some of our dependence, and ordering of our lives around food. Rather, we've mastered food, and become greater in our ability to have it whenever we want. To eat as a matter of convenience and to be able to go on with whatever we want to do during our days, without having to worry about our food. We don't have to worry on a day to day basis about the weather, and how it will affect what we eat. We don't have to worry about going daily to pick-up fresh food, because we have freezer full of it.  We've sort of mastered this system, we no longer have to be interdependent on our neighborhood grocer, or the local farmers who would supply the area with food. 

A Twinkie preserved in a
Maine High School Classroom
 since 1975.
We no longer have to be dependent on God, at least not in the same way that the people walking in the wilderness were. The people who were dependent on God to give them each and everyday a new feast of Manna, which literally means, what is it? A name which shows that the important thing about this food, wasn't what went into it, but who gave it to them. With each day, these wanderers in the wilderness had their trust in the one who had brought them out of slavery in the land of Egypt renewed, as they woke-up to that day's meal. These people, walked around learning how to trust God, they did so for 40 years, and then, because they were sinful, after reaching the Promised Land, they learned once again how to trust themselves. 

We continue to learn how to trust ourselves, and though we can seemingly continue to do greater and greater things, what we really get out of it all, are Twinkies. Food that may not perish for a long time, and whose affects on our bodies, our ecosystems, and on our lives together, we don't yet fully know the consequences of. Food that helps to make us better individuals, but probably not a great world, or a world that is very attune to who God is, or who each other is. 

Still, Jesus has come, and Jesus has come not to give us the Bread of Convenience, which is cheap and lasts forever. No, Jesus came to give us the Bread of Life that feeds us each and everyday, and restores us, and this world everyday. The Bread which restores this worlds abundance and makes it teem with life once again. The Bread which fills this world with abundant peace and love and justice for every person. The Bread which makes us remember where our life came from, and returns that life from which we came to us. Jesus has come to give us this Bread of Life, and Jesus feeds us with this Bread of Life today. 

Though, in addition to our life-giving meal of Communion, I have brought with me today, some Twinkies, and I will have them available at our coffee time. I don't ask you or try to require you to do a lot, but if you are getting a treat today, and there is a Twinkie available, please take one with you. I want you to take one, and eat it sometime this week, or set it out and give it to your child once you finally get sick of them asking for it. Give it to them, knowing full well that it is not the "healthy choice," and when you, or someone else, eats your Twinkie, remember a few things. 

Remember first, that there aren't enough Twinkies for everyone, remember that there are people without enough food to eat. Remember as well, as you eat this delicious treat, how tempting the world and its offerings are, how much power sin has over our lives. Remember that this world is broken by the sin that we are held captive by, and even sometimes indulge in. 

As you bite into that creamy deliciousness, filled with things that will not do your body good, as you taste that Twinkie, remember. Remember what it is that we are Chosen to Proclaim. Remember we are Chosen to Proclaim our own captivity to sin, our own dependence on the broken ways in which the world works, our own participation in all the stuff that humans do to try and make life easier, yet which so often turn us away from God. 

Remember all those things and enjoy that Twinkie, because remember even more, that God has sent the Bread of Life in this world, and we are fed with this Bread, not because we make good choice, but because we are loved. Remember that we are Chosen to Proclaim, this life that has been given to us, and the life that is given to us no matter what, the life of Jesus Christ, who says to us, 

"All who come to me will never be hungry, and all who believe in me will never be thirsty."

Today, we will eat of this bread of life, and drink of this cup of salvation, and proclaim the everlasting life of Jesus Christ.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,