Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [NRSV]
If you are hungry, Eat!
My grandmother Brantley never asked if we were hungry. She would just prepare at least two meats and five vegetables, bread and dessert just in case. Hungry or not, the table was spread for a feast. (A fine example of prevenient grace.)
For generations we have heard it was essential hat we eat three meals a day, when it is probably better to eat half the calories over five meals a day. But after proper conditioning from school lunches, lunch breaks, and drive-in window eating, we eat because the clock tells us to eat.
Mikey is always telling us that we eat too fast; he reminds us to enjoy our food. I have thought about our fast food, on-the-go, we use our average seven minute allotments of eating and we move on to the next task or responsibility. He may just be right. I know he earns his nickname for a reason.. (Mikey of the Life cerel commercial, Mike: He eats everything.)
Jesus talks about our need for spiritual nourishment using the familiar and repetitive example of daily bread. Just as the children of God ate the daily bread provided by God in the wilderness, so now Jesus reminds us to eat, daily of the things of God.
Here is the problem: We don’t always know when we are spiritual hungry.
Have you ever skipped breakfast, got so busy you missed lunch and found it about three in the afternoon and you feel a cramp in the stomach, maybe a bit dizzy or just plain irritable? Our bodies have clear signals to tell us that we a past due.
Spiritually we have signals as well, but we may not be as aware or as familiar with what to look for.
- How long has it been since you prayed as long as it takes you to fill your stomach?
- How much time do you spend preparing and cleaning up after meals?
- How much money and energy goes into buying and storing your food?
- How much time do you spend looking for deals, coupons, bargains, sales and transporting food?
- Compare the time and energy spent preparing, eating and cleaning food…
- Compare the time and energy spent praying, worshipping, studying and reading, and in Christian fellowship and service.
On average: 2008 data: 67 min eating / day (age 15+) 23 min eating while doing work/tv/reading and 63 min drinking while doing work/tv/reading [2.5 hours/day]. The Barna Group has been tracking our prayer stats since 1993, report that pastor’s pray on average 30 minutes a day. They report 83% of congregants pray at least once in the past seven days.
2.5 hours eating and drinking, 30 minutes praying. Jesus has a point for us.
EMOTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS:
- Feeling tired, weary or worried?
- Stresses, focused, or preoccupied.
- Overwhelmed, grieving, or confronting difficult relationships
- Challenged, stretched and facing unknown territories
- Tired, Weak or Worn down
- You have a full calendar of commitments and responsibilities
- You have an empty calendar of commitments and responsibilities.
- These are not an exhaustive list, but a heads-up, of the kinds of things to l
For what do you hunger?
If prayer is a measure of our hunger: We prayer on average:
- 12 minutes with prayer requests,
- 8 in quiet time,
- 7 giving thanks,
- 7 more in praise, and
- 5 confessing sin.
The top 5 things they pray for are:
- individual congregation member’s needs,
- congregation’s spiritual health,
- spiritual growth for church,
- and personal spiritual growth.
Are you still hungry?
- Have you tried a taste of prayer
- Sampled some worship
- Dabbled in some study and service
- But still hunger?
If you are still hungry, then eat! Eat from the words and grace of the Bread of Life.
- Our ritual of Holy Communion is not a once in a life-time event. It is Jesus’ instruction do “eat” every tine we break bread.
- Try in one day to eat for 30 minutes and pray, study, ready and serve for 2.5 hours and see if you get your fill for the day.
- Start Bible Study, Daily Devotion
- Take Turns, change it up, read the prayers of others, write and share your prayers
- Commit to worship, Sunday school, Spiritual Journal, etc.
- Volunteer in the name of Christ,
- Forgive some folks who don’t ask and would never earn it.
As United Methodist we have a heritage of practicing our piety, growing our spirit, and yet we have been declining since the 1960’s. Let’s get back to our 1760’s and look toward the 2060’s and set goals of spiritual growth.
Nike says: Just Do it, Jesus says: Just Eat!
Olympians say: Strive for the gold. Jesus says: Strive for what satisfies
SO WHAT: This is not a brow beating of our failures, rather a measure of why we might be where we are and how to become more FULLY the people God has created us to be… Eat Up.