On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Where are you? - A Reflection by Pr. Kruse

Christ is the one to whom “the prince of this world” comes but can do nothing against. If we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world, — Pope Francis.

When we are gainfully employed we sometimes refer to ourselves as: “Breadwinners.” It is an endearing phrase to be sure that has meaning and peril. It first and foremost reminds us that, all other claims to the contrary, we work for our food, our daily portions. How the word “winner” got incorporated into the phrase I know not but the inter-web assures me that the term originated in the early 19th century but that its use was limited until the 20th century but then became a commonly used term. The same world wide inter-web also suggests that the term “winner” was read in the sense of “struggle for” or “work hard at.”
I took the tack last Sunday from the pulpit to suggest that food, bread to be exact, is a very complicated substance. It is all too easy to think of it as something picked up quickly on the way home from work. But, it is not that easy, really. Bread comes form flower. Flower comes from grain via a mill. Grain comes from the field, via a seed. Seed comes from grain. Grain comes from seed, and suddenly a longs chain of repeating and intertwined events, each and every link important, stands behind the loaf. Bread is not easy, nor simple, it has roots all the way to the beginning of time and dirt. Yes, dirt. You cannot grow grain without dirt and dirt is made of . . . I will spare you that chain. It is lengthy but it does involve volcanoes, so that makes it kind of neat.
Bread connects us to the beginning of creation. (the fish do too but it would get too lengthy to explain that, let me talk bread here, you can talk fish and wine by yourselves) The term, “Breadwinner” is peculiar if take at 21st century face value. We do not “win” bread. We might not even be able to earn it. The only parts that are in our control is the sowing, reaping and processing. All other things are under the control of time, creation, and the loving hand of the Father. (SC) 
As 21st century people we are even further removed from a healthy connection to the reality of our lack of control over our bread. We have cut out the tedious and risky processes that grows the bread. We do jobs, get money, and exchange it for bread (preferably flat, toped with tomato sauces spices, cheese and meat, cooked by someone else and boxed neatly) and then we shout: “Pizza! Let’s eat.”
Moses had no bread to give. We have no bread to give. Behind each and every bit of bread stands God and the fraction of eternity already passed since the beginning of the world. It is too big to be bought, earned, or won. Eating is at some level a receiving of God’s word in creation: “let there be.” Will we received it like Cain?
How did I get to Cain? Let me explain a bit. In Genesis 4 we see Cain and Able laboring over their chosen mode of farming. Both bring sacrifice but God “considered” Able’s sacrifice but not Cain’s. The fact that they will have to labor hard has been told to Adam and Eve in chapter 3. Nothing will come without labor after the Fall. But what is that labor and what is the meaning of the sacrifice made by the brothers? Is the sacrifice given in pride for the labor or in thanksgiving for the unfathomable chain of events that make the harvest possible? And in spite of the labor involved, in spite of the success of our harvests, our riches, our capacity to bring home the bacon, do we not do well to eat our bread in humility? Cain does not think so and gets even more alienated from land and labor. (Gn 4:12)
Manna, to bring this back to Moses and the Gospel of John, is a good example of the need for humility. Israel had done absolutely nothing to set itself free. Moses had done nothing that God did not command and the one time he did depart from God’s instructions by adding his own symbol action, it cost him his ticket into the Holy Land. (Nu 20:2-12) The people and the prophet in the book of Exodus receive from God. They have no cause to boast. If we look at the story closely, it is revealed that they were their own worst enemy at times and were known to complain that they had to be free. (ex: Ex 16:2-3 “the flesh pots of Egypt”)
Manna is received. It is not earned. It is the tangible reminder to Israel that all is in God’s hands even when, and maybe especially when, they think otherwise.
The Holy Eucharist is received. It is not earned. It is the tangible reminder to the One Holy Catholic And Apostolic Church that all is in God’s hands even when, and maybe especially when, we think otherwise. John Kavanaugh writes:
If there is any pre-eminent task for us as we celebrate the Eucharist, then, it is not that we execute it well or work out our different roles, helpful as these things may be. Our task is to believe that our God, in Jesus, is our very food and drink.
The liturgy is not just a meal we have made, not just fellowship, not something we have artistically dreamed up. Its reality does not depend upon our ingenuity or virtue, our expertise in preaching or singing. It is fundamentally an act and gift of God.
"What must we do to perform the works of God?"  Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe (lit. put your Faith in) in him whom he has sent.” (6:28-29) 
Faith is to stick with Jesus, no matter what. As for the sign for which they ask (6:30), he has already given it, and they should know it. It is because of this sign that they are talking to him at this time. But the sign is not enough. Maybe it is not even that, maybe the sign is already forgotten. Maybe it is too simple, too every-daily, too trivial. Who wants a sign that is merely bread? If bread, which, as I said is neither simple nor easy, is not enough of a sign, what will be? Will turning water into wine be enough? (Jn 2) Will healing sick children be enough? (Jn 4) Will healing the lame be enough? Jn 5) Will multiplying the loafs and fishes be enough? (Jn 6) Will walking on water be enough? (Jn 6) Will making the blind to see be enough? (Jn 9) Will raising the dead be enough? (Jn 11)
Faith is to stick with Jesus, no matter what. To have and cherish him as the Lord of your life because he is the Son and therefore the author of it. What will it take to for you to have Faith? Will it take an “act of God?” Such was had. You can read about it in chapter 19 and 20 of John’s Gospel. And again, Faith is like bread, like Manna. It is simple but complicated. Easy but hard work. It reaches to heaven but falls in pride. Humble Faith is just “mere” Faith. There is no proud Faith. There is only the Faith you received from Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. 

There is Bread and Wine. The Lord and the blood of his sacrifice. Where are you?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Peter. I am always enlightened and blessed by your reflections. It is why I have appreciated the Tuesday gatherings. Good to look over the transom from SC to OH.