The readings for today are a mixed group. The OT reading is a wonderful snippet from the first part of Proverbs which focuses on Wisdom. Wisdom is the voice of God into our world, inviting not demanding, offering not compelling, but do we listen, do we look out for her?
The NT reading continues through Paul’s letter to Ephesians – and he calls on the Christians there to live wisely, not foolishly, grateful and cheerful in God. As so often what we say and what we choose to say is indicative of how we think. Is our speech and conversation positive, grateful, encouraging?
And the Gospel reading continues through John 6. You may think we read this last week (and the week before!) but it is a long passage which circles and swoops around some central themes, a bit like a piece of music; keywords and phrases are Bread, Life, Eating, Believing, Eternal Life, ‘come down from heaven’; they are all interlinked.
We began with five loaves and some fish, but now the conversation includes drinking, and thirst, and in this section blood is introduced. For the Jews, life was found in the blood of an animal, which is why you have to drain the blood before you can eat meat (Kosher meat). But what Jesus is saying is shocking and discordant. It is meant to get us thinking and it is meant to get us thinking forwards to the Crucifixion where blood and water came from Jesus’ side.
John does not describe the Last Supper at all in his Gospel. But in this passage, the first Christians would make the connection. The shared meal, where bread and wine were shared, in remembrance of Jesus’s death, thinking about the ‘sacrifice’ he made for us, in which we now participate and receive, is to feed us and to keep us in eternal life.
We can just come and receive (we are invited!), but John invites us to think more deeply about this extraordinary yet – at one level – so simple ceremony. We are linked both to Jesus the man and to the Christ of God. We are offered simple food, yet in faith, we receive the life of God. We continue to live our “earthly” lives, with all the challenges and the joys, the uncertainties and the opportunities, our frailties and the signs of new life in the coming generations; but we are also connected to the eternal God who offers everlasting life to those who believe and eat, those who receive, those who abide in Jesus.
Lady Wisdom invites us to her meal; Jesus invites us to his meal. Have we heard the invitation?
Rev’d Peter Reiss