Monday, January 21, 2008

Grace Leftovers

Legalism creates a mentality of scarcity. Grace creates leftovers.

This weekend at VCC I taught from two Biblical narratives that seem connected to me - John 6 and the book of Ruth. In John, Jesus feeds the 5,000 (something they didn't necessarily deserve). The result of this act of grace is that everyone eats and lots of food is left over. In Ruth 2, Boaz calls Ruth over to have what could have been her first real meal in months. He has no legal, or even ethical, responsibility to do this. He's fulfilled the law by allowing her to glean in his field. He goes way beyond the law and gives her more food that she can eat. Once again, grace begets leftovers. Back to John 6.

The crowds find Jesus the next morning and ask to eat again. He responds with anger and a controversial teaching ("Eat my flesh. Drink my Blood.") He offers the Bread of Life that comes only by feasting on him. The crowds leave confused and only the twelve are left. He says that leftover food spoils, but evidently, left over Jesus does not spoil. Somewhere in all of this lies the depth of the eucharistic lifestyle. We feast on Jesus, whom Spurgeon once called Our Glorious Boaz. We gorge ourselves on God only to find that there's way more of Him to go around than we ever imagined. Experiencing grace creates a leftover ethos. What we commonly call evangelism may rightly flow from this too. The beggar who finds bread that never ends would logically share the excess with his beggar friends. Especially once the beggar learns, by feasting with constant leftovers, that scarcity is a myth in his new reality. We have no reason to horde God's love because it never ceases to be re-created and re-birthed in every moment. All we can really do is feast and invite others to share in the excess.

Ruth got much more than bread. She got Boaz. Then she had his babies. We get much more than fish and chips. We get Jesus, our Glorious Boaz, and with him we are invited to birth love and grace into the world.

John 6:10-13

Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the (five) loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the (two) fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Ruth 2:14

At mealtime Boaz said to Ruth, "Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.

John 6:26-27

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."


Helen Ann said...

LOVED the message Saturday! Ruth is one of my favorite stories...And I loved the Orpah/Oprah comment - How much hate mail have you received?? :)

amymck said...

Great message this weekend!

Delvis said...

Couldn't remember a scene from Indiana Jones but the relation of the first step onto the invisible bridge and us trusting God to lead our path sure hit home with me. Thanks for a great message.