Friday, January 2, 2009
Bread of Life
"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believe in me will never be thirsty....And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day." John 6:35,39
My oldest daughter Emily gave me a bread machine for Christmas and the other day we set it up and gave it a trial run. It has a small recipe book with it, and so after much deliberating we chose a recipe to make. It was a whole wheat bread that included sesame, sunflower and cumin seeds. Max and Emily had to go to the store to get some ingredients and then we quickly put them together and set the machine to do its work. From time to time, someone would go and peer into the machine, watching it knead, tossing the dark rich dough from side to side. We were all fascinated and hoping that it would work as promised. Since it was New Year's Eve, we headed our for dinner, letting the machine alone to do the work, anxious parents though we were. After a fine meal we returned home to the overwhelming rich smell of warm bread. There is something about the smell of bread baking that draws out a sense of security and warmth. A sense of belonging and home. Realtors tell people to bake bread while they are showing their home - people are more tempted to buy the house if it smell inviting and home-like. What is it about bread that does this to us?
Bread is a most basic food, a staple of life and a commodity on which the health of an economy is based. If the cost of bread is high, then the people suffer as does the economy. Bread is basic to all cultures, no matter how it is shaped, what the dough is made of, or how the baking is done. Bread has religious significance, and long before Jesus made his claim that he was the bread of life, bread as a symbol of God's constancy was a given. Very few people in this day and age make their own bread, and many believe that bread and all carbohydrates are the reason for their weight and health problems. I am not a doctor so I can't really argue the point one way or the other. All I know for sure is that bread is basic to all life, all cultures and is an icon of family and belonging. No wonder Jesus chose this metaphor to explain to his disciples who he was.
Jesus makes himself rudimentary to a life of faith. But he also promises that God's will is that no one, not one single person is lost. Besides promising a life without hunger and thirsting, he promises that God expects every single one of us to be gathered up, brought home and fed. The "bread of life" tells us that God's love is not exclusionary. No one will be lost. I want to live today, as one who accepts that reality of God. Accepting that Jesus provides fullness and God casts no one aside. I want my prayer life to acknowledge that God is gathering me in, and Jesus is feeding me. No matter how I feel, no matter what I seem to lack, no matter what mountains I face, Father and Son have worked out a way forward for me. And all of us. May we rejoice today as the beloved of God. And may we encounter everyone this day, knowing they too are the beloved of God, fed by Christ's love and gathered in, every last one by the love of God.