by Roy M. Terry IV
Gospel Reading: John 6:35, 41-51
For Sunday, August 12, 2012: Year B − Ordinary 19
I have a good friend who just found out he has a gluten allergy. Now when we go to a restaurant he is always asking, “Do you have a gluten free menu?” The real struggle my friend has is that he LOVES bread!
I can remember him telling me on numerous occasions, “I don’t care what the scripture says – I could live on bread alone!” He also mentions frequently that he can tell if a restaurant is any good simply by the bread they bring out before the meal. Sticking to a gluten free diet is driving him crazy!
Knowing that my friend is struggling, now when I am with him at a restaurant I order from the gluten free menu as well (if they even have one). While I feel good, in a self-righteous way, supporting my friend, to be honest, I don’t like gluten free bread!
The pasta is good and even some of the desserts aren’t bad but the bread? I want the good bread, packed with gluten, fluffy, full, real bread! While we both sit there eating and pretending like nothing has changed, it is not the same and at times even difficult to eat.
We love our bread
The world loves its bread! Bread is the definitive staple of all meals. The Bible is packed with bread stories and is often a metaphor for healing, recovery and God’s presence. The yeast used to make bread is also a symbol of sin, brokenness and hypocrisy. Bread is a relational food, we break bread together, share stories around a good loaf of bread and even receive a little piece of bread as a fore taste of heaven through the Eucharist meal. Heck, even prisoners get bread and water.
Bread is all around us and to avoid eating things with gluten in it is difficult. Occasionally my friend will risk the allergy just to eat the bread he grew up with. He is willing to imbibe even though he knows it will make him sick. But it’s just so darn good!
Difficult to Eat
When Jesus offers himself as the Bread of Life those who are listening find it difficult to eat. Over the next four chapters of John (6-10) the opposition to Jesus grows. The world is not ready to change its diet even if their diet only makes them sick.
Jesus proclaims that he is Israel’s food and all of the needs and longings of God’s people can be found in him. “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The problem is that “Jesus Bread” is difficult to eat.
The Hardest Question
If Jesus is the bread of life, which provides for our ultimate human needs, then why does it leave us so hungry or why is it so difficult to take a bite?
Is “Jesus Bread” gluten free?
Rev. Roy Terry serves as the pastor of Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Naples, FL. In addition to working at the church, Roy enjoys supporting his wife and daughter’s equestrian pursuits, playing in the Holy Moly Band, getting a few tattoos and singing classic rock tunes at the local sports pub. He has been published in Christian Century, Duke Divinity School’s publication Divinity, The Ekklesia Project, and was a contributor in Diana Butler Bass’ work on re-traditioning churches, From Nomads to Pilgrims and Christianity for the Rest of Us.