Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pure Religion: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 - Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

*** by Petras Gagilas.  Creative Commons image on flickr
1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around [Jesus], 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
   ‘This people honors me with their lips,
     but their hearts are far from me;
   ‘This people honors me with their lips,      but their hearts are far from me;   7 in vain do they worship me,
     teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
     teaching human precepts as doctrines.’8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I used to think that the greatest challenge of a kosher diet was the prohibition of certain foods.

My perception changed when a Jewish friend explained that the greatest challenge is the preparation and storage of food.

The most basic law of the kosher diet is the strict separation of meat and dairy products.  They cannot be stored, prepared, or eaten together. 

Ideally, a kosher kitchen contains two of everything—including pots, dishes, utensils, sinks, countertops, and even major appliances like the refrigerator and range. 

She went on to explain that her dining room contained a special sink for the ceremonial washing of hands—and not just before eating, but in between the eating of meat and dairy. 

I couldn’t help but think of how complicated and time-consuming this must be.  But it has been part of the Jewish way of life for millennia.  In Judaism, eating isn’t just something you do—it is a sacred act of thanksgiving and devotion to God.

But in our Gospel, Jesus is calling out the religious leaders who criticize him for not holding to this tradition.  We need to be clear here: Jesus isn’t condemning the ritual and tradition.  After all, it finds its roots in the Law of Moses.  Jesus is condemning their abuse.   The ritual and tradition weren’t being used to bring people to closer to God—they were keeping people away.

Though we can hardly blame the religious leaders for their concern.  In Jesus’ day, God’s people were immersed within a corrupt and unjust society that was anything but Godly.  In a big way, the purity laws functioned to bind the Jewish people to God and one another as the world threatened to tear them apart. 

Things are a little bit different for us.  Christians remain the religious majority in our society.  Our constitutional democracy and freedom of religion and speech protect us from persecution.  That’s not to say that the world we live in isn’t constantly “throwing acid” on the Christian way of life. 

The media isn’t “the main menace.”  You can pull the plug on “the vast wasteland” of moral filth at any time.

In reality, we’re polluted by the stuff that escapes our concern: the stuff we reach for and cling to that makes us happy; the stuff that makes us feel in control; the stuff that reinforces our pride and self-righteousness.

That being said, Jesus says that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles:
“Fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.”

If you don’t hear your favorite sin here, you can most certainly add it in. 

All these things come out of the heart, and defile the whole person as we commit evil against God and neighbor.  Much of the time, we’ll find no fault in what we’re saying or doing.  In fact, a person can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

What’s more, is that there is nothing any human being can do to purify their heart.  You can withdraw from mainstream society and live in total isolation—but that won’t change your heart.  Try as we may, you can’t legislate a moral and just society into being.  History teaches us that attempts to do just that will always end in tyranny.

Thankfully, Jesus gives us another way.  Moral purity and justice begin where forgiveness and God’s unconditional acceptance begin: at the cross.  Our hearts hunger desperately for the comfort and strength only Jesus can give—and thankfully, Jesus gives us what we need.  His blood purifies us of our sin and frees us from sin’s deadly grip.  His body comes alive in our body, so that we may come into new life in him.  Not only that, Jesus gives us the gifts of prayer the written Word, so that we can be in conversation with God.  Faith begins in the heart, but it doesn’t stop there

Christ comes out of the heart as action—because faith is a living thing that will suffocate if it is not expressing itself.  Religion is the best word to describe how we live out our faith—and a big part of religion are the daily acts of thanksgiving, worship, and everything we do to cling to Jesus.  But personal piety isn’t everything.

As James writes, religion is worthless if it builds up the individual but does nothing for the neighbor. 

Ultimately, God isn’t building up the Kingdom with people who maintain rituals and traditions, all the while thinking that they can win God’s favor.  God builds the kingdom as the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ comes alive in imperfect people like you and me.  This is the essence of our Lutheran “religion”—that Jesus Christ is claiming and purifying the hearts of his people; coming alive in the people of this Body in order to draw near to the poor, the broken, and the lost.  This is religion the world needs in a time such as this.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"No Offense,": John 6:56-69 - Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Capernaum by Christyn on flickr
[Jesus said,] 56 “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (NRSV)
I always know I’m in for it when someone begins a conversation with the words, “no offense, but…”

Sometimes, it’s little more than laughter at my own expense.

Other times, the person speaking these words is about to say something devastating, and they’re telling me that I have no right to resent them for it.

Occasionally, however, a person is speaking in judgment of me—and these words may be a gesture of gentleness…

If you’re like me, it’s a very painful to be judged.  Report cards in school give way to performance reviews at work.  Websites like Yelp open the door for customers to publish their praise (or more often disgust) for everyone to see. 

Sometimes, other people’s judgments are legitimate; what we call “constructive criticism” that helps us learn and grow.  Many times, judgment can amount to little more than schoolyard bullying.  Yet one thing that never changes is our resistance to it.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking his final words to the crowd of five thousand that he’d miraculously fed a short time ago.  I say “final words” because the people have had it. 

He refused to let them make him a king.  Instead of telling the people what they needed to do to secure a lifetime’s worth of food, he feeds them “mumbo-jumbo” about eating his flesh and drink his blood (which the Law of Moses strictly forbids).  They don’t understand.  Then he tells them that human flesh is useless in gaining eternal life.  Now, they’re offended.  Now, they go.

It’s hard to imagine anyone being offended by Jesus.  We love Jesus, and we know Jesus loves us.  Jesus loved the five thousand every bit as much. 

But the Jesus we love is not necessarily the Jesus who is.  The “Jesus who is” will disappoint us and fall short of our expectations.  He will teach us things we don’t understand.  But that’s not the worst of it. 

Jesus both speaks and enacts his judgment upon every one of us, just as he does to the crowd standing before him.  This is what offends us most. 

Jesus exposes the sin that hides deep in our own hearts, and the evils we commit against God and neighbor.  All of our right beliefs and good deeds count for nothing before with God—because sin infects what we call righteous and good.  We can neither save ourselves nor make ourselves right with God.

But rather than receiving God’s judgment, we throw up defenses against these offenses.  Pride is our ultimate weapon.  In pride, we judge ourselves as righteous.  We’re as good as we can possibly be, given our circumstances.  We let necessity set our priorities.  We make the judgments on what’s essential to life and what’s not.  We act, think, and buy based on what makes us happy. 

We claim a certainty that our beliefs and convictions are in full accord with God’s truth.  

Nothing reinforces our self-righteousness quite like other people.  The way we see it, we can’t possibly be unrighteous if other good and trusted people are saying, thinking, believing, and doing the same things.

If we want to know what’s right for the future, we look to the past.  We let precedent, tradition, and nostalgia light the way into our future.  How often do we see a return to God as the return to the past?

In the end, our best defense against God’s judgment is a good offense—which, in this case, is enacting our own judgment against God.  That’s what the crowd of five thousand does.  Then, we go away.  We desert Jesus.

Judgment is not a pleasurable thing; be it from other people or from Jesus.  God’s judgment reveals what Jesus reveals—“the flesh is worthless.” 

Thankfully, Jesus breaks down both our offenses and defenses against him.  He comes in judgment, though not with the fires of hell stoked and ready.  Jesus enacts his judgment with his arms nailed open.  He exposes our sin in order to destroy it.  His hammer of judgment shatters us in order to transform us into what he desires.  Then, Jesus gives us his flesh and blood as the food and drink of new life.  Repentance is what happens when Jesus Christ and his righteousness come alive within us.

The challenge before us, then, is to embrace humility so that we welcome Christ’s judgment.  It is to continue listening to Jesus even when his word offends us—and to continue trusting in Jesus when his ways offend us.  It is to live in the Body of Christ, and to accept that because we belong to each other, we are accountable to each other.  Together, we walk in righteousness and truth.

Holiness and new life begin with judgment—because judgment is God’s gift that begins in you all that God desires.  All who are loved by Jesus are judged by Jesus—because this is a judgment that saves us.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

You Are What You Eat: John 6:51-58 - Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

[Jesus said,] 51 “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.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (NRSV)
World Communion Table by wplynn.  Creative Commons Image on flickr
Today’s Gospel may be one of those stories that it’s best not to hear on a full stomach.  The five thousand people Jesus had fed are still around, but not for much longer—because Jesus says this:

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”

I can’t imagine the crowd being anything but outraged by Jesus’ words, and for good reason: the Law of Moses strictly forbids eating or drinking blood.  For starters, the blood of animals could carry deadly diseases.  More importantly: in ancient Judaism, the shedding of blood atoned for sin.  A sacrifice of blood makes a person right with God.  So by taking Jesus’ words at face value, we must become vampires and cannibals.  In the end, Jesus’ words add up to a miserable way to gain followers.

But Jesus’ isn’t speaking these words to become popular.  Jesus was sent to proclaim the truth—and he’s not mincing words…

Jesus was sent to this earth to personally become a sacrifice of atonement for all human sin.  Jesus’ personally bears the cost of all human sin—and gives us the benefits of his sacrifice.  Yet Jesus takes it even further…  The very life of Jesus is in his flesh and blood—and by eating and drinking his flesh and blood, you are receiving his life into your own body.  Think about that: Jesus isn’t merely a Savior walking beside you through life.  He lives within you and through you.  Simply put: you are what you eat.

It’s not news to anyone that proper nutrition is essential to good health.  A healthy diet and exercise make all the difference.  Many of us also take medicine to maintain our health.  Some medicine, we take by mouth; some we receive directly into our bloodstream.  It all means the difference between life and death. 

Only trouble is, I doubt most of us don’t understand our Christian faith in such a way.  Being a Christian is all about we do and what we believe.  It’s about having Jesus walking right there beside you, like an invisible companion.

When we come to our Lord’s Table, are we more focused upon the bread and wine we’re eating and drinking rather than the body and blood Jesus is giving? 

As we race through the days, I know I’m driven more by the desire to get what I want, rather than receive what Jesus gives.  Eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus doesn’t hold the urgency that so many other things do.  I’d much rather eat and drink towards my own happiness.  It’s in my nature to resist change in my diet of life.

Yet Jesus’ flesh and blood are no small matters.  Jesus is giving us what is vital for life—regardless of whether we’re receiving him at the table, on our knees in prayer, or in the Word. As Paul writes in Ephesians, the days are full of evil—and the time is short.  We don’t have until forever to receive the gifts Jesus gives.  Eating and drinking of Jesus truly is a matter of life and death. 

You are what you eat—and you always will be.  So what if, today, you were to abide in what Jesus’ has been teaching since the five thousand ate their fill—that we seek and desire, above all else, the bread that endures for eternal life? 

Begin by receiving Jesus’ invitation and coming to him today, Jesus will take you on a journey of tasting, seeing, and experiencing firsthand the life of Christ.  You’ll receive the wisdom to understand God’s will; embrace what is vital in light of eternity and forsake all the rest.  You’ll be joined into the song of the Body of Christ; giving thanks to God, sharing his goodness, and resting in the Gospel promises, even as evil rages around us. 

You are what you eat—and Jesus gives you the food and drink you need.  In Christ we receive the bread and the drink that the whole world needs.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grace Made Visible: John 6:35-51 - Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

35Jesus 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.36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away;38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day."
41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven."42They 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'?"43Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among yourselves.44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.45It 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.46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.51I 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."
Give us this day... by Kris Litman.  Creative commons image on flickr
One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting my grandmother’s house on the weekend—and the sweet smell of turkey or roast beef in the oven.  Even now I’m blessed, not only because I’m still enjoying Grandma’s cooking, but because I get that same sensation at Mom and Dad’s—and when I come home from work.

It’s not the taste of the food that’s so precious (although it is delicious!).  The food itself is the embodiment of love.

This is the same reason why birthdays, holidays, marriages, and funerals are all celebrated around a meal.  This is the reason why we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday.  Nothing says “I love you” like food. 

This is all fine and good when there’s an abundance of food.  But what happens when food is scarce?

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the fallout following Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand.  Initially, after the crowd had eaten its fill, they were prepared to take Jesus by force and make him a king.  But acclaim became skepticism when Jesus began speaking of himself as bread that gives life to the world.  The way the people saw it, they’d gladly trust Jesus as long as he kept the loaves and the fish coming.  And who can blame them?  Most of them faced the danger of hunger every single day. 

But now, skepticism is giving way to hostility.  The religious leaders are arguing that Jesus can’t possibly be divine—because they know where he’s come from.  They know his parents.  And as I’ve said before, the problem of the people’s food insecurity is unresolved.  Doubt is now becoming more abundant than the fish and the loaves they had eaten. 

Most of us can relate, particularly when we do not see Jesus doing anything to resolve the evils in the world.  Illnesses don’t go away.  Loneliness persists.  Time and money become scarce.  Who honestly wants to hear all of Jesus’ gobbledygook about him being the bread of life?  What we do want to hear is, “what does believing in Jesus get me?”  Where or how will I get the abundance I need simply to live?

Last weekend, the three of us ate at the Golden Corral for the first time—a restaurant chain with the tagline “help yourself to happiness.”  I can’t think of this so much as a restaurant as I can an amusement park for food.  For $9 admission, you’re entitled to “all the food you can eat,” or the way I saw it, “all the food you can take.” 

Wouldn’t it be something if Christianity worked that way?  Faith and obedience become the currency through which you earn your way into the abundance of everything good that could ever be desired.  Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus said to the sick, the lonely, the broken, and poor, “Come to me and help yourself to happiness?” 

But remember: the suffering, pain, and mortality of humanity is no matter of indifference to God.  That is why God is in the world, drawing people to Jesus Christ.  And Jesus is more than just a solution to a problem or even a lifetime of food. 

To the hungry and poor; the friendless and fearful; the sick and the dying; Jesus says “I am the bread of the life.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”

The abundance of life is not measured by what or how much we get—but by who Jesus declares himself to be.  This is where faith comes in—and without faith, Jesus will be to you what he was to the religious leaders: an unremarkable person from unremarkable origins who isn’t worth the time of day.  Make no mistake—faith isn’t something we can just conjure up of our own will.  Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It begins with the invitation Jesus speaks to a hungry world: come, eat, and live. 

It begins in Christ who comes into our world; right into the middle of poverty, brokenness, and fear.  From the cross he gives his body as the bread through which he speaks the words “I love you.”

Ultimately, the abundance of God’s goodness comes to us in what is, by all appearances, mundane: a morsel of bread; a thimble-full of wine; a 2000-year-old book; or even an un-air-conditioned church inhabited by a small crowd of ordinary people.  Sometimes God’s abundance begins in the invisible; with no more substance than mere words.

If you put your faith and trust in who Jesus is and what he promises, the abundance of God’s grace will become visible.  You will awaken to rebirth as Jesus comes alive in you through your baptism.  Eat and drink the bread and cup of salvation, as Jesus nourishes you to live your life for the sake of what matters to God.  By faith, you will see the goodness of God—and you will do the goodness of God.  Out of the abundance of whatever God gives, Jesus will send you to bring life and healing to the world. 

Those who taste that the Lord is good will see that the Lord is good.  We will belong to Christ and each other.  Together, with all that we have and all that we are, the abundance of God’s goodness and grace will become visible and undeniable.

“Here we can know, not by someone else telling us, but by our own experience, just how much God loves us.”

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bread Security: John 6:24-35 ~ Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sea of Galilee as seen from Capernaum by Christyn.  Creative Commons Image on flickr
24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
             25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"  26Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."  28Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?"  29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."  30So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?  31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"  32Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
             35Jesus 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.
Looking back on my week at Camp Lutherlyn in June, there was no adventure that could top the afternoon of trust falls

We started out small—the typical trust falls you see at marriage retreats…  Fall backwards into the arms of another.  No problem.

But they kept upping the ante: next thing we knew, we were lifting campers up over our heads. 

Then, the ultimate trust fall: stand on a picnic table, and fall into the arms of the people below.

I didn’t participate—because I didn’t trust myself not to break the bones of the fourteen-year-olds who’d be catching me.  But make no mistake—it took one hour’s worth of injury-free falls to create the trust in each other for something as significant as this…

So what does it look like, then, to trust Jesus?

Today in our Gospel, there are five thousand people who found in Jesus what they thought to be the ultimate solution to the food insecurity they experienced every day.  They had just eaten their fill of the fish and barley loaves Jesus miraculously gave them.  No sooner are they finished gathering up the leftovers, that Jesus slips away unnoticed, crossing the Sea of Galilee (on foot, by the way). 

They pursue him and catch up with him on the opposite shore.  Immediately, they ask him: “when did you get here?”

Yet Jesus knows why they’ve followed…  It’s not because they saw signs, but because they ate their fill of the loaves.  In other words, it wasn’t faith that brought them to Jesus.  It was their hunger.  It was their need for food security

Yet it is very un-Christ-like that Jesus did not solve the problem of their food insecurity—especially since we now know that he was perfectly able.

How often do we see, on billboards, T-Shirts, bumper stickers, the words ‘Jesus is the Answer’?  I honestly have no idea how to interpret those words—except to think that Jesus is the solution all our problems. 

That’s what the crowds were thinking—and that’s why they ask him for a sign, so that they would believe he’s the answer.  In other words, “give us what we need, and we’ll trust you!”
The problem with that, is that God’s ways are not always our ways.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter to Jesus that the people are hungry, because I’m certain it matters a lot. 

But Jesus makes it clear that he’s not the answer!  In other words, you can’t pursue Jesus as a solution to a problem.  Instead, Jesus is calling the crowds to follow him on the basis of who he is, and what he promises.  He says, “I am the bread of God that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

They’ve seen the signs.  They’ve heard his words.  Now it is time to trust him—even as the problem of their food insecurity remains.  Now it is time to trust that their hunger matters to Jesus, and to trust that Jesus will give them food that endures for eternal life.

This is just as great a challenge for us as it was for the five thousand—because we, too come before Jesus in our brokenness and need.  We come before him so that he may heal our wounds; forgive our sins; provide our daily bread; and lead us to a meaningful and peace-filled life.

Jesus doesn’t always give us instant solutions to our problems and questions.  Even if he does; it’s only a matter of time until there’s new problems and new questions. 

What Jesus ultimately gives us is himself.  He is the Son of God; the Bread of Heaven; who desires to live in an intimate relationship with you and love you forever.  But relationships don’t just happen.  We must make the effort to get to know Jesus as he reveals himself in the Word.  We must be intentional about speaking to and listening to Jesus in prayer.  We must be intentional in eating and drinking at his table.  Above all, we must be intentional about casting ourselves, our needs, and our desires into the hands of Jesus—when all we really have to go on is his promise.  We trust Jesus by acting upon his Word and his promise, anticipating that he will provide what will satisfy the hunger of our bellies and the hunger of our hearts. 

None of us can truly know what will happen when we come to Jesus.  All we know is that he will lead us to the Word, the water, the sacraments, and prayer.  We know that he will lead us to the neighbors for which we are bound to in humble service. 

We trust that he will unite us in the belonging with our sisters and brothers in Christ. 

We trust that he will meet our needs with an abundance of grace. 

We trust that he will be faithful even as troubles and trials remain. 

We trust that he’s more precious than the bread of finest wheat; more precious than silver or gold.

We trust that he is our Bread Security.