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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Homily

Season of Creation – Cosmos Sunday, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
September 22, 2013

Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 148; Colossians 1:15-20; John 6:41-51

‘Stardust’

Jesus calls the salvation he provides “bread” and he calls himself “bread from heaven”. John, arguably, is the most mystical of the gospels. It is ostensibly constructed, layered. It is sacramental – the material world is a bearer of spiritual meaning; the material participates in the spiritual. It is often said that John’s Gospel presents a “high Christology” and a “high discipology”. Believing is abiding (in the vine, in the Spirit …), radical investment in the Gospel – radical commitment to God in Christ – radical appropriation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Belief is eternal life in the sense that it brings joy, relationship, understanding, healing and hope beyond individual/temporal desires. God be with you

With due reverence for Jesus (in whom is seen Wisdom the “skilled artisan / little child” – in whom is seen the very cruciform pattern of divine life “rejoicing in the world and delighting in humankind”), we might engage the text this way: Imagine that we ourselves, the body of Christ meeting here in the Spirit, are given these words to speak, that we ourselves are speaking these words. In what ways might they be (made) true? 

How are we the living bread come down from heaven? How do we give ourselves to those who are hungry/grumbling/perishing? How do we give ourselves, for the life of the world?

I’m challenged to ask this of myself and of this assembly because too often the Church speaks of Jesus as though he were not really one of us. As though he were a cosmic superhero unlike us. As though we could revere but not imitate his wise ways. As though our salvation entailed mere reverence for his wise ways.

Jesus is the living bread come down from heaven – and once we’ve discerned the meaning of that – in terms of generosity, love, humility, courage, and so on – we can move to consider what it might mean to think of ourselves as living bread come down from heaven. We are all children of the cosmos. (As a child I used to dress up as the flamboyant lead singer of the rock group KISS whose persona was the Star Child – confident, well-connected.) We are all Star Children. We are all made of stardust. We are elemental. We are miraculous. We are given, we are gifted, we are gifts.

John chapter 6 is deeply Eucharistic. It invites deep and poetic engagements. What is bread? Bread is fruit of the Earth and of human labour/creativity. Bread gives life to the body. It is a staple. It is sustenance. It is good for the body. It is good to share (a com-panion is one with whom [com] I break panas/bread). There is the symbolism Paul employs with regard to many grains and one loaf – with regard to diversity and unity, with regard to collective/social and individual/personal identity. Bread is intimacy – making bread entails intimacy with the Earth, and, usually, the intimacy of touch. When I eat bread it becomes part of me. I have an intimate relationship with the bread that I eat. I am offered Christ, the Wisdom of God, just as I am offered bread. And, as St Augustine said: I become what I receive – with others – we become what we receive: the body of Christ, bread for the life of the world.

How do we give ourselves to those who are hungry/grumbling/perishing? A while back, Miriam commended a philosopher of religion and the following notion: The concept of a cosmos involving spaces constantly open – porous – to transcendence. Renée Köhler-Ryan from the University of Notre Dame notes that St Augustine thinks of being religious as tracing back through the cosmos a primordial link between the human person and God. We give ourselves to others by way of openness – openness to learning something new, openness to understanding and forgiveness, openness to change, to self-deprecating and warm-hearted humour, to mystery, to wonder, to love.

Two examples of porous or cosmic Wisdom.

Firstly, last week two of my nieces starred in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. “There’s no place like home,” says Dorothy – who finds herself home in Kansas once more. But home is forever changed by the transformative storm and dream that is the show’s great adventure in friendship and Wisdom. Kansas is forever open to the experience and reality of Oz – and Dorothy is a different person – a skilled artisan if still a (little) child of the cosmos.

Secondly, yesterday Margaret and Brian Vazey celebrated 49 years of marriage – a “penultimate golden wedding anniversary” at St Michael’s Golf Club in Little Bay. What do you do in the face of illness and difficulty caring for a spouse whose needs are more complicated by the day? Open to transcendence, what do you do when it all seems so hard, so overwhelming? You throw a big party! Invite family and friends, tell the stories of life and adventure in the world – meeting as novices of mountaineering, two young adventurers “tied to the same climbing rope” – falling in love, raising three beautiful children, enacting fairness, respect … Tell the stories of bush regeneration groups, art and poetry groups, faith communities, studies in engineering and biology … St Michael’s Golf Club was open to the experience and reality of Love – and Margaret and Brian, Megan, John and Robyn and family were different people – skilled artisans if still (little) children of the cosmos.

We are all children of the cosmos. We are all Star Children. We are all made of stardust. We are elemental. We are miraculous. We are given, we are gifted, we are gifts.

Let us stand and affirm together our faith … Amen.