Sermon – 08-15-21 – Proper 15 – Cycle B
Scripture: Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:9-14; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Sermon Title: “God’s Thinking Versus Our Thinking”
One day God speaks to you. God has an invitation for you. You need to choose which invitation to accept. One invitation is to sit at Wisdom’s table. A second invitation is to sit at the table in the Upper Room with Jesus on the night when he is betrayed. The third invitation is to be present at the table which Jesus has prepared for you in Psalm 23. “He preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” That table.
Which will you choose? It would be nice to sit at the Wisdom table. I think of it like a tea party or a cocktail party. Good food, great conversation, but grasping this wisdom idea could be wearisome. It reminds me a little of Consistory meetings without the fancy food or any food. There is lightheartedness around the table but wait . . . we are supposed to be more than enjoying our meetings. We are supposed to be looking for Wisdom. Oh my! As we peel the layers of our own ideas and begin to listen to the ideas of our comrades, something happens. All of a sudden there is a shining nugget gleaned from the conversation. No one has shouted, although the pastor seems pretty vocal with her opinions. Regardless, Wisdom gathers all of these comments and suddenly there is this truth smiling at us, saying, “Wow, it took you a while to find me, but here I am. What are you going to do with me?” So it is an exciting table.
Which table is next? The Upper Room table – but oh, we missed the table in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, good friends of Jesus. There was love at that table. Could we linger awhile? Why not? It could be good for our souls.
Let’s not stay with the tables which Jesus overturned! My no! Birds flying out of the cages. Money flying everywhere. Tempting to stay with that. But Jesus is rightfully angry; not a very pleasant host at these tables.
Oh! There are all of these tables where Jesus eats with sinners! Might we fit here very well! Sure, along with Zacchaeus and whichever Mary was thought to be a sinner. “I’m coming to your house today,” goes the song about Zacchaeus. Jesus is saying, “I’m coming to your house today.” Now I am afraid. “Could we go to a restaurant please, I would say?” My lack of hospitality is showing. See I definitely belong at this table – this table with sinners and the forgiving Jesus.
There is the table with the enemies in Psalm 23. Is the Psalmist who writes about this table anxious to be reconciled with his enemies or is he thinking of revenge? Do the enemies need to watch this feast? Where do I get this idea of a feast? Am I confusing several scripture passages? “You preparest a table before me” does not include the image of a feast. Maybe it is just a table with glasses of water. You see, there is so much to talk about and to know.
Wisdom will come to sit with us at a table whose only setting is glasses of water. In fact, the Apostle Paul has something to say about my idea of sitting with Wisdom being like a cocktail party. Listen. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit . . .” Paul tells us to “Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” An attitude of thanks will open the door for Wisdom to flow upon us.
But Jesus gives more than water at his table. Yes indeedy! There is bread and wine. Oops, Paul was not yet in the picture at the time of the Last Supper in the Upper Room. So Jesus did not have to mind Paul’s words about debauchery from wine. Water may be very good for us but it does not have the excitement about it that wine does. It may be true that wine was safer to drink than water in the days of Jesus.
It would have been exciting to be sitting at the tables of the wedding reception where the transformed water into wine appeared by the power of Jesus.
Today our Gospel Lesson is about the bread as well as the wine. Jesus is saying that he is “The Living Bread.” Did we not hear that last week? Are we tired of talking about bread by now? I have a story.
A person named Ruth yells “Hello” to her next door neighbor as they both rush out their doors toward their cars. Liz replies, “Have a good day!” Then Ruth says, “God be with both of us.” “Sure thing,” yells Liz. Off the two cars go toward a routine day. Ruth arrives at her destination, finds a good parking spot quickly and walks into her hospital where everything appears to be going well. No sooner has Ruth put on a smile then it suddenly leaves her face and Ruth’s legs are walking as quickly as possible without calling it running. It is a Code Red signal that she knows well. Ruth is an RN.
In this hospital Code Red means a fire. Just having arrived, Ruth did not know if this was a test or an actual fire. As is Ruth’s habit, she breathes a prayer to Jesus. “Be with us,” she says in a soft voice. “We may need your “living bread” help.” She arrives at the section that is announcing this Code Red. She finds the person in charge and learns how she can help because they are evacuating patients from that section of the hospital.
Ruth speaks comfortably to each patient as she takes the brakes off the wheels of the bed and gently pushes the bed to a designated area. She says, “Jesus, Living Bread, be with Sarah in this bed. Keep her safe and calm. Let her know you are with her.” Ruth repeats this with the next patient, Roger, and the next patient, Joleen. Finally, the staff has everyone out of danger and they are notified that the fire was real and it has been contained. As the staff waits for word that the air is pure enough to return patients to their original area, they take blood pressures. Why are some blood pressures so normal while others have spiked?
Surely, you know why. Ruth has an inkling but she is hesitant to mention it. But, this would not be the first time that depending on Jesus or the Father or the Spirit brought good results in her life. Challenges are not new in her life. Ruth knows that as helpful as the small piece of communion bread is to her physical and spiritual life, it is not the total help she receives from Jesus.
This Jesus is living. The Holy Spirit is living. The Father is alive! Jesus as the Living Bread acts fast when it is necessary. But the Wisdom of the these three holy persons is not always fast in forthcoming. It is probably no accident that Wisdom and Wait both start with the same letter. This is one of the differences between God’s thinking and our thinking (the sermon title). Wisdom is thorough and careful, complete and caring. Let us look for God’s thinking in every situation. It is far better than human thinking without God’s Wisdom.