How do we know? How do we trust? How do we discern? These are the questions we ask as we look outward into our communities and inward into ourselves to witness to the Word of God active in our lives.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Lectionary 21B
Texts: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18, Ephesians 6: 10-20, John 6:56-69
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Does it challenge you and make you think and act differently?
Does it change your perspective of your neighbors?
Does it make your heart break open again and again from the injustice and suffering of the world?
Does it tell you that you are beloved and that you have received grace upon grace?
Does it lead you, protect you, comfort you, and guide you?
Does it show you love and hope?
Does it give you life?
If so, then it is the Word of God.
Not just the literal words of the Bible, but the embodiment of the Word being made flesh, the Holy One of God that is moving, and stirring, and breathing life and hope and love into our world.
But how do we know life and love when we look around us and see violence, climate disasters, illness, racism, houselessness, and poverty? How do we trust in this love and hope and life that has been shown to us, told to us, and passed down through generations? How do we discern what is the Word of God in the world versus what is evil and filled with wrong doing?
Perhaps these are the questions that the disciples are asking in today’s Gospel reading. The same questions that many of us carry with us every day. The questions that we bring into this community.
How do we know? How do we trust? How do we discern?
Peter’s answer is that we don’t fully know, but through the transformation that has taken place in his life and the ways that he has witnessed to Jesus’ ministry he discerns the path forward is with the Triune God because he trusts it will lead him to abundant life.
Joshua’s answer is similar. Gathering the people who he has been with for 40 years in the wilderness and asking them if they are ready to make a proclamation. A proclamation that they will trust and serve the Triune God who has been their hope and their protection.
Paul’s answer is that we have to continue to wrap ourselves in that protection and be ready to discern what is lifegiving in this world by walking in peace, sharing the love and grace of God, and praying at all times.
What’s your answer?
I know you have one.
I see the joy on your face when you come to this place to Worship. Feel the love when you talk about your family, your friends, and this community. Know your heart aches from all the pain and suffering in your life and all around us. I notice the discernment as you think about how you can continue to grow in serving your neighbor and give up privilege for the sake of equity. I hear your song, your prayers, and see your tears as you proclaim God’s love and faithfulness that has carried you this far.
You have an answer to how we know, trust, and discern the love of God because you have been transformed by God’s love and you are an embodiment of God’s love. You are the answer, this whole community is the answer.
Living as an example of God’s love and proclaiming the ways you see God’s presence in your life. Moving where the spirit is calling you to serve—at your job or at school, on the playground or in the grocery story, in the car or on the street—so that God’s love is known through you.
Discerning the ways that we can use our bodies, our voices, and our gifts to impact our community so that others can know and trust the life and hope and grace and love that is found in Christ.
It doesn’t mean that it is going to be in easy, rather it is going to be difficult and confusing and it is going to disturb our lives. It will make us look at the world around us an discern what truly is lifegiving—even questioning things that have provided life before. Perhaps we will even want to turn away or things will hold us back.
But we must actively work to put away the forces that try to convince us that power, and wealth, and comfort are more important than unity, empathy, and love. Rid the shame and judgement that have filled us to make room for the nourishment our bodies crave.
We continue to be filled with the Bread of Life and when we are filled with God’s love and justice, we have the conviction to proclaim it. Not because we have all the answers or because we fully understand it, or that we are perfect at it, but because we trust that it has the power to transform.
Look around you right now and you will see it, walk in the community and you will see it, look toward nature and you will see it, look in the mirror and you will see it.
The Word of God active in our lives.
It challenges us, it changes us, it pushes us out of our comfort zone, it nourishes us and fills us with hope and love.
And all of this is going to lead us to abundant life.