Friday, August 21, 2015
Many of the disciples found the teaching of Jesus difficult and “turned back and no longer went about with him.” We might wonder why it was so difficult for them. What made them give up on the words and go unto something else so quickly? After considering all that Jesus said in John 6 about being the bread of life, we too might find such teaching difficult to grasp. For five Sundays this summer we have been listening to the words of Jesus from this chapter. By doing so we recognize that we are asked to take our time with the words that speak to our lives of faith.
No wonder we read the scriptures aloud and amongst community, in worship and study. If we find something difficult to understand, it’s always empowering to know that the learning is a shared experience. No wonder we want to hear the word proclaimed within the gathering of people where songs are sung, and prayers are prayed and bread and wine are served. There is something made real in all of this. We are embraced by the Spirit creating room for our searching questions and stirring up faithful insights.
So it makes sense that Jesus called his disciples to abide – to remain, to dwell in the life of God in our very midst!
In John’s Gospel, from the very beginning and throughout, we are met with the promise that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. It seems to me that so many things we do in the life of the church help us to keep embracing the mystery of the incarnation, again and again. What we do together week in and week out helps us to live more fully into the good news of God with us.
When Jesus asked the twelve if they wished to go away too, Simon Peter replied as we might today, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” For Peter the teaching might have been difficult but he was able to trust in that moment that the difficulty did not change the relationship. Peter’s response especially speaks to how discipleship is more of a journey than a quick fix.
While distractions to faith are plenty, the summons to remain steadfast still finds us and we grow deeper into the richness of a love that forever holds us!
(The stained glass window is in the sanctuary of Hope Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, WI. Photograph by Tim Abraham.)