The Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr.
Today’s Gospel: John 6:27-40
This conversation between Jesus and the crowd that followed him across the lake challenges us to reexamine why we are following Jesus. It is made clear earlier that many were simply following because they had eaten the loaves that had been provided and had their fill. This might be enough to stir our thinking and facilitate deep reflection. As this passage opens and moves further, we see a group of followers that are seeking to engage Jesus because they had a burning question and desired to know what they needed to do in order to do the works of God. Perhaps they had concluded and compiled a list of good works that pleased the community around them but Jesus was moving them to consider that there was more to his message than good works and loaves. This moment would confront the horizontal focus of their religion by challenging the vertical considerations of their faith. The answer Jesus gave them was not the answer they expected.
Do you believe? What do you believe? There are times when we have all made the mistake of concluding that we could gain the favor of God by our works while not ever wrestling with what we believe. Throughout this Lenten season we are presented each day an opportunity not to focus on simply doing good things but to wrestle with the question, “What do we believe?” In order to believe, those within this text wanted more signs in order that they would believe. I remember hearing some of the more senior members of my faith community always stating, “If God does not do anything else, He has already done enough.” My conclusions in those days were that their statements were focused on possessions and horizontal living. What I missed was their witness that God had already done enough for them to “believe”. Has God done enough for you to believe or are you looking for another sign?
Open unto me, light for my darkness
Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair
Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow
Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness
Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
Howard Thurman, from “Meditations of the Heart”