Thursday, September 30, 2010

manna

Bread and Wine, Albert York

In the days of Moses, God gave manna in the desert, and it was enough for all the people. All the feet that hastened across the dry Red Sea bed. All the mouths that clamored to Moses, "Has God forgotten our bellies, hungry and empty?" The heaven-bread sprinkled down, and it was like no food earth could produce. A special food to reveal God's provision for His chosen ones.

The days in the desert, a lifetime of dust and a litany of complaint, finally ended. The manna ended, and the people forgot. Forgot a God who stretched out His hand to give them all the food they needed, and they "played the harlot after other gods." (Judges 2:17)

In the days of John the Baptist, God gave Jesus, and He was enough for all the people. All the fisherman hands that drug in their knotty nets. All the lepers that laid down their mats in one little corner. The Son of Man dwelled among them, and He was like no man earth could ever produce. The pinnacle of God's plan to draw Earth back from sin and decay.

"I am the bread of life," He tells a sweaty, pressing throng one day. Those crowded in shift on one foot to another, murmurs pulsing from one ear to the next, "Is this man crazy? He doesn't look like a piece of bread to me."

"Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died." Manna. The ears of the good Jews perk up and listen. They've heard the stories, the history, their identity.

"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:50-51)

"How can we eat your flesh?" a man shouts. Offense is taken. Confusion is thick. Jesus doesn't apologize nor rearrange his words, admitting a hasty turn of phrase. This strange picture is the one He has meant to paint.

"If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, I will remain in you, and you in Me," He continues.

He is the new manna. He is God's provision for His chosen ones. He is the bread and wine that sustain life. But He knew that, like the manna, the people would forget. "Remember me," He tells those closest twelve, years after the bread speech that fell on tense hearts. "In this bread, remember my body. In this wine, remember my blood."

We remember, sometimes fumbling, like the church in Corinth whom Paul chastened severely. We come to the table because it's tradition and it's right, but what do that bread and wine mean? We leave the table and we forget, drifting back into the swift current of jobs and iPhones and slow internet connections and clubs and obligations. We forget the story of the Manna.

"Come back," is the message of the table. "Come back to what Christ has done for you because you are prone to forget. A piece of bread and a cup of wine, these speak again the mystery of what He has done for you. How He is the feast you will eat forever. How He is the sustenance that will truly fill you."

Make life a feast of Me.
Eat my flesh,
drink my blood,
but do not do it lightly.
Remember
what this meal cost.
Not you,
but Me.
I have given my life
that you may have true life.

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