Sunday, August 20, 2006

God's eternal street party, feast, celebration

A portion of today's sermon on Proverbs 9:1-6 & John 6:53-59

A friend who I haven’t been in touch with for many years and I were recently reunited --- he asked me when he found out that I had become a priest, quoting a scene from the Tao of Steve --- whether that meant I got to hang out with God all day. I responded and said -- well yes, but our claim as Christians is that all of us, every human being gets to hang out with God all day.

Today’s lessons both from Proverbs and from the Gospel convey an important common dimension of the Christian life that is often forgotten especially when we look upon our broken lives and world --- and that common dimension is the feast, the party, the celebration. Not only do we Christians proclaim that all people are invited to hang out with God all day, but we are part of a roaming street party or moving picnic. Christianity --- and our longing for the Kingdom of God -- our aching for transformation, for eternal life is at the heart of our faith. We pray in the words that Jesus taught his disciples, we pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as in heaven. One metaphor for this eternal life is a party and a feast. Christians throughout the world proclaim that our celebration of the Eucharist is a foretaste of the banquet that God has for all after death. Within each of us I think is a deep, deep desire for this infinite celebration and no matter how bad things get in our daily lives God's infinite celebration is calling us. We are all invited.

The theme of God's feast, of God's celebration runs throughout the bible. The significance of eating and drinking with God, even dancing is there with Abraham and Sarah in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is there with Miriam, Moses sister and the other Hebrew slaves freed from bondage in the Book of Exodus. It is there in the Psalms of David --- the Lord has set a table before me in the presence of my enemies, my cup runneth over. The feast, the party, the celebration is there in the Prophets as an expression of God’s desires for humanity not just a select few but all people. (See Micah) And Jesus, Wisdom incarnate, the Logos of God, the reason, the Word -- the Wisdom of God made flesh seemed to like to party. Liked to be with others around a table, not just at the last supper but many other places as well. In fact, Jesus was criticized by the pious, religious people of his day for partying too much and with the wrong kind of people... with traitors and enemies, with prostitutes and sinners. Jesus ate and drank with all sorts of people. After his resurrection Jesus meets over food with his disciples in a number of places and even cooks them breakfast.

Today’s gospel really takes this metaphor of a meal, of a party to a new place. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life. Jesus describes how this bread, is the bread for eternal life... If we eat Jesus’ body, we become bearers of God's feast, we carry this eternal meal of God into the world --- we become part of an endless roaming, portable street party (thanks to Brian McLaren for the street party image).

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