Bread of Life: A Sacrifice
Pastor Michael Stadtmueller
Sermon Scripture: JOHN 6:51-58[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.”
52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So 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. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This 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.”
Hollis cried to his parents, “Mom-Dad, I really messed this up!”
The murder happened hundreds of miles away from my hometown at Texas Tech, but Hollis was a boy from Seguin. A boy my family knew. He was confronted by a police officer who discovered he had drugs in his possession. He panicked and grabbed the officers gun. That moment changed two families lives permanently. Absolute brokenness.
Floyd East Jr., a campus police officer left behind two daughters and a wife who desperately want their dad back. There will certainly be righteous anger and many communities mourn his passing, but today i want to talk about Hollis. A 19 year-old who committed murder. My God-daughter who goes to Texas Tech now as a freshmen had talked about sharing rides to Seguin with him. My brother is friends with his dad. Hollis is 6 years older than my son Gabriel. It’s all very real.
He messed up bad. Real bad. He took someone’s baby. He took someone’s husband. He took someone’s dad. Yes, Hollis you really messed up. Now his parents have to reconcile the fact that their child if he doesn’t get the death penalty, a real possibility in Texas, will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Now the reason I share this awful story – The world will say he deserves it. Legally it’s cut and dry. You even had a confession in the moments after the shooting. And of course beyond that there is a family that has been pierced by this brokenness in such a profound way that it is easy to be enraged with Hollis. But when Hollis called home he heard from his mother and father who loved him. He broke down confessing his sins to them and they told him they loved him. At this point he didn’t deserve their love, but he still received it…..
We can’t stop the pain of the world. But i believe sharing this bread of life in Christ Jesus will help us to ensure that we surround pain with Grace. And i believe the more we surround brokenness with Grace the more we can stop some of this brokenness from happening at all.
The world needs a voice of Grace that can remind our world that our brokenness is not beyond God’s love. Now most of us are not in the place that Hollis finds himself. We haven’t committed a crime that would send us to prison for the rest of our lives. But we have all messed up. We have all found ourselves crying out to God like he cried out to his parents. “Mom I really messed this up. Like his parents we have a God that promises unconditional love.
A love that at times we can’t even imagine it’s depth. That is the love of Christ that we share in the bread and wine of communion. A love that’s depth of sacrifice is greater than all of the crap of our lives.
The language in our scripture today can be puzzling. Body and Blood? Our minds go to cannibalism. But the first century mind went to sacrifice. When you mess up….Make a sacrifice to God for forgiveness was the way they understood their relationship with God. Kill an unblemished lamb. And there were specific instructions on how to deal with the body and blood of the animal sacrificed on the altar. It sounds barbaric to us, but Christ’s language of being the bread was the new covenant speaking through the terms of the old covenant. Transforming the moment from what you must Sacrifice to God into What God has sacrificed for you.
We eat the bread and the wine and trust in God’s presence because we know our lives continue to need a power beyond ourselves to bring the holy into our messed up world. God empowers us to share this Grace. This Hope. This love. It doesn’t erase brokenness. It doesn’t stop it from happening. But it does surround with love.
Hollis’s story reminds us that we need a God who can fix what we cannot. We need a love that is greater than that which we can give alone. For Karoj’s story from our video we see that sometime those who have sacrificed so much in their lives can have their life transformed by others so that they no longer have to sacrifice. For our story we have a God who loves us in whatever we face.