Sermons

"At Home With God": Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year B (8:00 AM)

"At Home With God": Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year B (8:00 AM)

Aug 26, 2018

Passage:John 6:56-69

Preacher: The Rev. Mildred Rugger

Series: Pentecost

Category: Love, Outreach, Eucharist

Keywords: life, love, relationship

Summary:

God offers us and the whole world abundant life through Christ. We are part of the plan for bringing others into loving relationship with God.

Detail:

In the name of God, who is Love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
We each probably have a different idea of what it means to be “at home.” Some of that may come from our childhood experiences. In my case, for instance, I don't have any place that I could call “my  hometown.”

My father was a Methodist minister. For us, that meant moving every three or four years into a new parsonage provided by a church. So, my idea of being “at home” has very little to do with a place like a town or a house. My idea of being “at home” has to do with kitchens. No matter where we lived, we could count on my mother fixing nutritious, delicious meals made from scratch. As a child, I found those meals an assurance of loving relationship.

And no matter where we lived, we could count on seeing on the kitchen wall our representation of DaVinci's painting, The Last Supper.

Once, when I was in college, my parents moved to a new parsonage located in the countryside. The first time I went home after they moved, I wasn't sure I'd be able to locate the house. It was starting to get dark, and I was starting to get nervous. Now, it's been quite a while since I was in college. So, there was no GPS to help me out, no cell phone that would allow me to call if I got lost. Up ahead, I saw a church with a house across the road from it. As I slowed down, I looked through a window into a lighted room and saw The Last Supper hanging on the wall. Relief! I was at home!

When my mother recently moved into assisted living, she decided to give me The Last Supper. Now every time I eat at our kitchen table, I look at it and feel at home.

In our Gospel lesson from John 6, Jesus makes a promise to his disciples and to the crowds following him and to us and to the whole world.

It's a promise that we can be “at home” in him. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood,” Jesus says, “abide in me.” To abide means to dwell or to stay where we find shelter,i to be at home.ii Not at home in a static way, like sitting at home. But at home in a dynamic way, in a way that is full of life!

The whole Gospel of John is full of life. More than the other three Gospels combined, the Gospel of John speaks of “life” and “living” and “abiding.” Just in our short lesson today, this idea is mentioned 8 times in relation to the living Father, the life of Jesus, and the life we are offered through Jesus. Jesus is “the bread that comes down from heaven,” offering those who eat it the promise of living forever.

It sounds great, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to gain the eternal life Peter found in Jesus? Who wouldn't want to be at home with God? Well, quite a few people wouldn't want it, it seems. This idea of eating flesh and drinking blood drives quite a few people away. The hangers-on looking for miracles as well as people identified as disciples decide to take off.

Suddenly, Jesus finds only The Twelve around him.

Of course, we know this isn't the end of the story. Jesus continues to minister and teach and offer the love and life of God. The Gospel of John is full of images that constantly “expand . . . the possibilities of life offered by Jesus. . . . There is no single approach to Jesus.”iii Life comes by eating the bread that comes down from heaven. By drinking the living water. By being born from above. By following the light of the world. By knowing the good shepherd. By believing the one who is the resurrection and the life.

All of these images tell us how we can find life, abundant life, at home in God. They all speak of loving relationship. One way to rejoice in the relationship we have with God through Christ is in the Eucharist, receiving “The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven” and “the Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation”. At the Lord's Table, God offers life to us and to all people. Yet, this idea sometimes drives people away.

As important as the Eucharist is, it's not the only way that God reaches out to people, offering life and love. As the Church, we are part of the plan to bring the world into loving relationship with God. We have the privilege of being the Body of Christ in our time and place. Partly, that means that we can be at home with God and let God's life shine through us. 

And partly, that means that we can enter into loving relationship with others in a Christ-like manner and thus help them come to be at home with God.

As a congregation, St. Andrew's has found important ways to be the Body of Christ to others. We offer breakfasts, sack lunches, hot dogs, and Thanksgiving meals to those who are hungry in our city. We provide financial support to organizations which address hunger around the world. 

We help refugees adjust to our city. We joyfully offer Christmas gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated. We provide communion at home as well as deliver meals and address other practical needs on a short-term or long-term basis. Meeting these physical needs is important. May we continue to find ways to serve others in need. And may we move beyond meeting physical needs to be in loving relationship with those in need.

Saint Teresa of Avila expresses this idea beautifully:

Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.iv

Amen.

i “abide” in The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, volume 1, p. 9

ii “John 6:56-9: Pastoral Perspective” by Amy C Howe in Feasting on the Word, Year B, volume 3, p. 380

iii “John 6:60-71: Reflections” in The New Interpreter's Bible, volume IX, p. 613

iv http://ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/teresa-avila-quotes