Wisdom


“You that are simple, come on in!” says Wisdom. “I’ve prepared food for you. Donuts and coffee, freshly-brewed,” Wisdom might say. But then what Wisdom definitely says is this: “Lay aside immaturity and live, and walk in the way of insight.”


Has Wisdom been watching me doom-scrolling through news stories late at night? You that are simple, come on in! Wisdom says.


I don’t know about you, but Wisdom has never looked more appealing than right now. Lay aside immaturity and live—I would love to do that! Walk in the way of insight—that’s great! Where is it?! The thing about the feast offered by Wisdom is that I don’t think it’s a one-time event, like a wedding or some special occasion. I think it’s an ongoing feast, meant to be eaten morsel by morsel, day by day, still savored in the same way that rare, delicious food would be.


And this feast is weird. As followers of Christ, we’re invited to feast on the flesh of Jesus Christ. Elle Dowd, an ELCA pastor, answered a TikTok challenge to “explain what you do, but explain it badly.” So speaking as a pastor, this is what she said: “On special occasions, I like, drown babies. And then about once a week or so, I host a cannibalistic meal where we feast on the body and blood of our deity, and during this, usually before, I give a motivational speech based on the mysterious ancient freedom text of my ancestors where I encourage people to overthrow the current world order and work to build something new.” I mean, she’s not wrong.


How does a faithful follower of Jesus walk in the way of insight, especially in the world we’re living in right now? A world where Covid-19 remains with us, continuing to infect people who aren’t vaccinated as well as infecting people who have been vaccinated. A world where political leaders at every level of government are feuding over mask mandates, over budgets and plans for how best to serve people. A world where global temperatures are the hottest they have ever been, there are historically large wildfires burning in the western United States. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned right now.


Wisdom says, lay aside immaturity and LIVE, and walk in the way of insight.

Jesus says, “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.”


There’s something important in these lessons here about what it means to be fed for the journey. Let us not forget that we’re still reading the same story from John’s Gospel about Jesus’s teaching about bread. For five weeks, we’re reading about bread, sitting with this same story to really dig in and savor and also get bored and wander away and get hungry and return again. And again.


Remember, it all started with a boy who shared his lunch with a crowd of five thousand people, give or take a few women and children. Remember that part? That miracle? Jesus fed people with food, and then he started teaching them that he himself IS the bread, IS the nourishment, he IS the sustenance. And everyone got confused, because people aren’t bread, and cannibals eat human flesh and we don’t want to have any part of that.


But God wants to be here with us. Remember the early words of John’s Gospel—“God so loved the world as to give the Only Begotten One, that whoever believes may not die but have eternal life.”[1] That’s in the third chapter—you might recognize it as John 3: 16. Or even before that, right at the very beginning: “The Word became flesh and lived among us.”[2] The Word became flesh—we are to understand that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God. And here, the living Word of God is saying: I am the bread of life.


This is no ordinary feast. This is no ordinary savior. This isn’t just bread to keep you going for another day. This is bread to keep you going for all of eternity. That’s the scope of God’s love. Even if you’re just here for the donuts, you’re gonna get so much more.


Jesus shows up with bread and invites us to consider what are we really stuffing ourselves with—do you really want the bread that leaves you hungry later? Or do you want something that satisfies your hunger, and not just your physical hunger but your spiritual hunger, that deep hunger for meaning in life, meaning in suffering? Jesus starts with feeding our physical bodies with bread and continues by feeding us with himself, sustaining us to carry on the work he started in healing the world’s brokenness, repairing relationships, restoring creation.


And this is hard work. Lots of folks want to show up for a free meal. After the five thousand-plus are fed, the crowd dwindles. By this point in his sermon, Jesus has a lot fewer people in the audience. Just a few religious folks are still asking him to explain what he means when he says “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” Not everyone wants to stick around for that.


But what about you? Why did you stick around? Was the food from Jesus so nourishing that you can’t leave it behind? Was it the community of people also questioning? Are you so well-fed that you desire to share food with others, and find some meaning in service? Are you just curious what happens next? Or maybe you have some entirely other reason for being here—someone invited you, or you want to please your parents.


Whatever brought you here, you are choosing to stay. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. This is the idea behind a movement known as “Messy Church,” a way of worshipping together in a multi-generational community that welcomes children and families, especially those who don’t come from a Christian background or who are not familiar with church customs.


The philosophy of “Messy Church”—which, as you could guess by the name, isn’t about keeping things proper and clean—Messy Church lives into this story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes—start with feeding people, continue with community, and grow from there. Not everyone will continue to follow Jesus, but authors Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter write:

“Perhaps Jesus isn’t interested in big numbers and short-term effects. Perhaps he’s interested in the quality of his followers and the long-term impact of his ministry. Perhaps one of the side-effects of Messy Church will also be a deepening of faith of the ‘home team.’”[3]


A deepening of faith. Hmm. That sounds a lot like walking in the way of insight.


There’s something to this showing up, week after week, day after day, that unfolds into a life of walking in the way of wisdom. And not for personal glory, but for gratitude to the God who has provided us with everything we need. Jesus didn’t die on the cross just so we could feel personally fulfilled—Jesus died for the life of the world, so that we could know abundant life. Jesus fed the world with himself—this is what we eat in Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ, for abundant life. The world needs this abundant life, now more than ever.


Be fed. Be nourished. Be encouraged. Walk in the way of insight. Welcome to the feast.


Amen.


Pastor Cheryl

[1] John 3: 16, The Inclusive Bible [2] John 1: 14, NRSV [3] Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ-Centered Community, Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter, InterVarsity Press, 2017.


 


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