Bread is truly one of the great things in life. It has been said that "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy" but I gladly apply that slogan to the yeast-risen goodness of the lovely loaf. Beer is another discussion for another time.
Bread is basic. Simple. Foundational, yet you can add various things to make it diverse to the tongue.
Reading this morning from John 6:35-47, a passage all about bread, or more specifically an argument about bread.
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (6:35, NIV)
The staples of life, the very things that drive us to work and love and art and joy, come through Jesus. I'll feed and water you. I'll sustain you, the King says, and those who heard it thought he was speaking above His pay grade.
"Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? (6:42)
Jesus is a local kid. He can't be what He says, the so-called "bread come down from heaven" - we know where He grew up. We watched him sheepishly hammering away in His father's shop, gleeful but determined and unfazed by the hassles and trifles of life. He can't be bread and water for us. He's common.
As a pastor, especially one in the area of spiritual formation, I'm often in conversation with people who are talking about being "fed."
"My old church just wasn't, wasn't feeding me I guess," they say in relative frustration.
Typically this discussion is about the elephant named "intellectual Biblical content" but there are other pachyderms associated with "feeding."
Emotional depth. One-on-one mentoring. Discipleship plans and processes.
Yet, at the onset of a new year, perhaps we've outrun one of the most ancient and basic ideas of the faith: bread and water.
If Jesus is the source of our sustenance, and He alone fits the bill, we'll never worry about being fed. Frankly, we'll be confronted with more than we can eat. Anytime we choose an area of our life, submit it to Him and decide we want to be like Him in that area we'll find ourselves at a great buffet of hope, joy and challenge.
We must be vigilant and concerned with the way our own lives tilt and ebb toward intellectual or spiritual content rather than toward the pursuit of transformation into Christlikeness. Content like Bible studies and discipleship plans will help, but they are vehicles and means - not the vision itself.
Today, we desperately need to sit at the table and break the Bread - thankfully, graciously, and honestly - so that we can begin the great journey sustained by the One Real Vision of life - Jesus Himself.