A Feast of Rich Food

John 6.1-21

 

You are in the Bible.Didnít know that, did you.Well, itís true.You are in the Bible, all of you and each one of you.Where?Just where in the Bible are you?At Isaiah chapter twenty five, verses six to nine, which reads like this:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well aged wines strained clear.And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, so that he might save us.This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

And you are there, in the Bible.You are there, all of you and every single one of you.You are there at that feast of rich food.

You, all of you, you have come here to Cottage Way Christian Church this morning, Cottage Way Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).You have come to a peculiar kind of church, kind of peculiar.

Donít get me wrong:I was born and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Disciples of Christ church, your church paid for my theological education and then ordained me to the ministry.I love the Disciples of Christ church, but itís kind of peculiar.

The Disciples of Christ church, your church, has no bishops, no real higher-ups.Sure, we have our Regional Minister here in Northern California and heís a good enough fellow.But he canít tell us what to do, he canít tell us what to do here at Cottage Way.Other kinds of churches think thatís peculiar.

Neither does the Disciples of Christ church, your church, have any official creeds or dogmas or doctrines that you have to believe, must believe.Thereís no one to tell you what you must believe and think.And thatís kind of peculiar, too.

And hereís something else:The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has communion every Sunday.Catholics have communion every Sunday, but most other churches have it once a month or once a quarter.But we have communion every Sunday in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).And communion, our communion, is very, very important to us.

OK.So in our church here we donít have a bishop to tell us what we must do.Neither do we have any creeds or doctrines that you must believe, or say that you believe.So whoís to say?Whoís to say?

Whoís to say, when, on a Sunday morning, we gather for communion, when we gather around our Lordís Table, whoís to say no?Who is there to say no, you canít have communion with us because you donít do what the bishop says, because you arenít faithful to the bishop?And who is there to say no, you canít eat and drink with us because you donít believe the right things, because you arenít thinking right?No one, thatís who.Thereís no one here to separate the sheep from the goats.There is no one here to say no, you canít.There is no one who can say, no.I donít think there is anyone here at Cottage Way who would even want to, who would want to say no.

Everyone is welcome to eat and drink with us at our Lordís table.All are welcome.

Look, when it comes time for communion, we rememberóand rightlyówe are accustomed to remembering the upper room and the events of that night, the night of Jesusí betrayal, when he took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples.The events of that night and the following day, the day of his death.But that upper room wasnít the only place and that night wasnít the only time he took, blessed, broke, and gave the bread.

He did so also beside the sea.At least one account of Jesusí feeding the multitude, his multiplication of the loaves, can be found in all four gospels, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.Johnís account was read this morning.Matthew and Mark both tell the story twice.Maybe we should take a hint.Maybe we ought to be remembering these stories, too, when it comes time for communion.

Now, when Jesus broke the loaves beside the sea, he did not ask for a show of hands of those who had been baptized, did he?No.He did not distinguish between the faithful and the apostate.He did not differentiate between saint and sinner.Making no distinctions whatsoever, Jesus took five or seven loaves and two fish or a few fish and he gave thanks, broke, and gave the bread and fish to a multitude of people numbering 4,000 or 5,000.(Luke doesnít bother with a number.)All of them ate.All of them were filled, their hunger satisfied.And there all kinds of leftovers, baskets of leftovers.

And what could this be?What could this miracle be?What is this but a feast of rich food for all peoples, the words, the promise of the prophet Isaiah made good?And what could this mean?Could it be the destruction of the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet spread over all nations?Could it be the wiping away of all tears from all faces?Might this be?Might this be the Lord for whom we have waited?

This bread is the goodness and the generosity of God.It is the righteousness of God being revealed, Paul would say.It is a goodness and a generosity far exceeding any other, a perfect goodness and generosity overpowering and shining like the sun and falling like the rain on the just and the unjust alike and overwhelming both without distinction.And blessed are the poor, the hungry, those weeping.

The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food.And he will destroy the shroud cast over all peoples and will wipe away the tears from all faces.

So, all peoples and all faces.That would include you.You, all of you, and it doesnít matter who you are, you are in the Bible.

And here.You are here at Cottage Way Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

There is no one here to say no.We will not ask for any kind of show of hands here.No one who says no.Our Lord does not.Our Lord Jesus Christ does not say no.

The Lord, the Lord for whom you have been waiting, our Lord Jesus Christ prepares a feast for us all, no matter who we are, a feast of rich food for all of us.

Today and here in this place, Jesus Christ takes the bread, blesses and breaks it, and gives, gives the bread and the cup, his body and his blood, he gives himself, he gives his life to us all so that we can all live.

 

Neal Kentch, Cottage Way Christian Church, Sacramento, July 26, 2009