|Rev. Eric S. Anderson, Minister of Communications and Technology|
This week’s author is the Rev. Eric Anderson, Minister of Communications and Technology.
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."
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
We've probably all seen The Look at one time or another. For me, it usually happens during a conversation with somebody who is serious about their faith, but it's a different faith: Buddhist, Jewish, or "spiritual but not religious." The Look has several variations, ranging from pursed lips and shaking head through puzzlement to blank incredulity.
I see The Look when I assert the unique status of Jesus, that he is the bread of life.
Jesus' own hearers found it scandalous. "We know his mother and father," they point out. "He comes from Nazareth, which is a long way from heaven." We'd have said the same thing, had he come from someplace in Connecticut: Hartford, say, or New London, or even Bethlehem...
Some people bear The Look when they hear of this "scandal of particularity;" others embrace it. The latter are the ones who hold up the signs referring to John 3:16 -- "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." -- but always felt that verse incomplete with the next one: "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
Jesus sent into the world as a once-and-for-all, "speak now or forever hold your peace," flip of the coin better-get-it-right Savior would be a universe-sized trap for the soul, one set by a capricious, uncaring God. That's well worth The Look. I believe in a Jesus offered to us as friend, companion, and guide: One who will nourish us into a deeper, closer relationship with God.
There may very well be other Ways to that deeper, closer relationship -- the Bible describes thousands of years in which God chose other means to nurture that in people -- but in Jesus, I see God striving to make it as gentle, as simple, and as direct as possible.
All too often, we Christians have turned that generous self-offering of love into a declaration of judgment.
Now that's scandalous.
Holy One, thank you for giving yourself to us, so generously, so freely. Forgive the insane pride we assume as we accept your gift, for it is your grace, not ours, that we receive. And as we follow the paths of life alongside all our brothers and sisters, help us tell the stories of the love we've known, and help us hear their stories of your love as well. Amen.
Bob Willard, husband of the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg, pastor of the Congregational Church of Plainville UCC, recovering from a congestive heart failure event last week;
the friends and family of Dr. Harry M. Rowe of Wells River, Vermont, father of the Rev. Jane Rowe, transitional minister of faith formation at South Congregational UCC/First Baptist Church of New Britain, who died unexpectedly on August 3rd;
those injured or grieving, and the faith community of the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin following the Aug. 5th shooting;
the injured spectators and those grieving after a violent storm occurred Sunday during a race at the Pocono Raceway.
the athletes, coaches, and organizers of the 30th Olympiad: may their competition foster peace;
the citizens of Aleppo, Syria, whose homes have become a battlefield;
those injured or grieving by the railroad fire in Nellore, India;
all the staff, volunteer leaders, and conferees at Silver Lake this week;
Grace Congdon, daughter of the Rev. David Congdon, pastor of the Elmwood Community Church UCC, who is undergoing tests for a yet undetermined illness;
the Rev. Stephen Camp, senior pastor of Faith Congregational Church UCC in Hartford, who is recovering from severe injuries suffered in a fall;
those left wounded in body, mind, and soul; those left grieving; and those who care for those injured by the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20;
those grieving or wounded by coordinated attacks in Iraq on July 23;
the Rev. Carl F. Schultz, Jr., pastor emeritus of First Church of Christ Congregational UCC in Glastonbury, who is recovering from surgery for a broken hip;
the Conference Minister Search Committee as they begin to consider candidates;
the Rev. Dr. Barry Cass, the staff, members, and friends of the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ, which lost its 170-year-old meetinghouse to a devastating fire the night of January 1-2;
the Rev. Alison Buttrick-Patton, the lay leadership, staff, members, friends, and community of the Saugatuck Congregational Church UCC, which suffered severe damage from a substantial fire on the night of November 20;
the Conference's partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery and their communities on the Korean peninsula; the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, seeking employment, or working to find just resolutions; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Rev. Eric Anderson at: email@example.com.
East Granby Congregational Church
IN The Rev. Denise M. Terry
First Church of Christ, Cong'l in East Haddam
IN The Rev. Robin J. Blundon
MM P. Simmons
Cong'l Church of E. Hampton
P The Rev. Thomas L. Kennedy
MM Ms. Carol Westcote
CE Ms. Jill H. Walker
First Cong'l Church of East Hartford
P The Rev. Theodore H. Mosebach
PE The Rev. William E. Flynn
CE Mrs. Louise R. Holmes
South Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Albert P. Turner
MV Mr. William R. Thayer
CE Mr. William T. Vibert
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The Spirit Calendar: August 06, 2012 by Rev. Eric S. Anderson, Minister of Communications and Technology