August 8, 2021
John 6:35, 41-51
Have you ever been caught up in daydreams? Daydreams lead us from what is, to something that could be. This can be dangerous at times when paying attention is essential; like in your car. However, daydreams may also lead to new insights and inspiration.
I first met Walter Mitty while living in Columbus, Ohio because I learned of his creator, James Thurber. In Columbus, you can visit the James Thurber House, a literary center and museum. Thurber, a humorist, created Mitty in his first short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A movie came out by the same name less than ten years ago. In the movie, Walter Mitty works for Life magazine and is constantly daydreaming of the places featured in the magazine. When the last issue is being constructed, he is responsible for finding a missing negative. A negative which reveals the quintessential meaning of life. Negative #25 leads him on a path he would have never imagined. Mitty is drawn into real-life adventures tracking down a photographer he has never met in person but has known for decades. Being drawn in, Mitty is hesitant at first, but begins to enjoy the journey ahead of him. Being drawn to this exciting adventure has brought him new life.
This is now the third week of Jesus teaching he is the Bread of Life. It could be easy getting lost in a daydream as we hear his words again. The gospel lessons for the last three weeks may seem repetitive, but the lessons are continually pointing to a God who loves us unconditionally. In Jesus’ teaching and feeding, we are drawn to God.
So, what does it necessarily mean to be drawn to Jesus, or God? The word for drawn in John’s gospel is used a few other times. In today’s gospel lesson, we read “No one can come to me unless drawn by the father who sent me” (6:44). We encounter it again later in John, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (12:32). We can see the same Greek word used even later in chapter 21 as the disciples are fishing after Jesus’ resurrection and they haul or draw the fish into the boat.
Surrounded by farm land, we could say being drawn to God is like the farm tractor dragging an implement and tilling the soil by bringing new soil to the surface and bringing new life to a soil which has laid dormant over the cold winter. The soil which laid deep is now drawn upward to bring new life and bear new crops.
We are like the soil when we are drawn to God. We are nurtured and given new life when believing in Christ as the Bread of Life. When we are drawn to Jesus, we are taught as stated in John 6:45, “And they all, shall be taught by God.” We are fed spiritually, emotionally, and physically by the Bread of Life found in Jesus Christ. Being drawn into God brings with it the revelation we are fed and given rest through God’s unconditional love. A love which surpasses all understanding. Why do we make it so difficult then?
If we were to compare the crowd we encountered in last weeks’ gospel lesson and the one found this week, we would notice they are not the same. Last week, the crowd was eager to see Jesus and searched him out, knowing what he had to offer was something new and a teaching they had not yet encountered. In today’s lesson, Jesus encounters the Jewish opposition. John is referring to those Jewish leaders who believe Jesus is just stirring things up and don’t believe him and simply do not want to take the time to understand.
It is easy to complain when you do not understand something. It is easy to complain when something does not go as expected. We complain when change occurs, and things are no longer like they were. Instead of complaining, perhaps we could look at what could be of the new place and situation we find ourselves. This has been made more apparent during this pandemic as change has happened and some things as we know them will be changed indefinitely.
Sometimes we are quick to complain before we know the entire story. We see what is on the surface and do not go any deeper. As the opposition complains about Jesus, they are complaining Jesus does not meet their perceptions. They knew him simply as the son of Joseph and Mary. They simply viewed what was on the surface and chose not to go any deeper.
Going deeper is what God is calling us to as we are drawn through Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. Being drawn to God happens when we encounter Jesus, and this can happen anywhere. It happens especially at the table. This is where I was drawn to God. Now, I didn’t follow the typical Lutheran path. I am not a cradle Lutheran and was not even baptized when I first started attending a Lutheran Church. Many expect the typical order of the sacraments to be baptism and then communion. Yeah, I didn’t follow that conceived order. I came to the table first and it was at the table where I encountered the Bread of Life for the first time. It was at the table where I then felt welcomed into community and the baptismal waters. When I was drawn in, I found joy and rest.
When you are drawn into something, you can sense it. There is a sense of joy or euphoria which stems from the moment. Being drawn in can lead us to our true passion and purpose. Being drawn in requires us to let go. Like Walter Mitty, we too may be drawn to places unknown, searching for something of great value and perhaps finding much more. God draws us into this wonder through Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. We are fed and nurtured at the table as we find our rest and receive the promise of eternal life in Christ and a never-failing love as God will not let us go. While we rest at the table, it is not a place to stay, because the same promise sends us out and uses our skills and talents to continue in the creation, redemption, and sustaining of our world as we know it. May you be drawn to the table and taste the Bread of Life.