Saturday, March 30, 2019

Your Fold or Mine?

The vet’s voice was kind and gentle, even pastoral in a way.  I guess when you deal with animals and those who love them you develop that demeanor.  She called to tell us the results of Nick’s x-ray had come back as “significant arthritis in the hip.”  He’s only got one back leg and so has been hopping his way through life for all the years we’ve known him.  I’m not really surprised this has happened.  He’ll have to take it easy, she said, watch the pain levels, help him when needed.  Of course, it’s part of the relationship isn’t it?  Part of pet “ownership.”  I put the quotes there because I’ve always wondered who owned whom in this association.  Try telling the cats that we own them and you’ll get an appropriate feline stare of contempt.

There is a mutuality in the relationship of care.  We look after them, feed and tend them, keep them warm and safe.  Sacrifice at times, adjust our lives because they are a part of who and what we are.  We love them and in return we are loved by them.  And in that loving there is learning and there is knowing. We know them, know how they will react when a stranger appears at the door, know what it means when they pace in front of the door or sit by their empty water dish, when they stare at you as you sit at the computer instead of on the couch where they can lay beside you and put their head in your lap.  Or even just sit close and know you’re there.  There for them.   

John 10:11-18   "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.  14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." 

This is a continuation of the previous passage.  Last week Jesus said “I Am the gate for the sheep.”  Now he says “I Am the good shepherd.”  So, which is it?  Well, are you an offspring or a parent?  Are you a sibling or a neighbor?  We’ve all got multiple roles to play.  Jesus is searching for images that will make sense to us, that will connect with us.  We need access and acceptance.  Jesus is the door, the entrance, the way in to an experience of love and transformation.  We need guidance.  Jesus is the one who leads us.

And there it is.  I know it seems innocuous to us.  A no brainer to most of us.  But we live in an “I got this” culture.  “We don’t need no stinking leaders” is the mind-set.  I once heard a commentator sneering at the passage in Matthew where it says that Jesus had compassion on the crowd “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt 9:36) Paternalistic, was the cry.  That’s the problem with religion, they would cry, it is a crutch, something to keep us down.  We are meant to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  Our heroes are the ones who made it on their own, the self made men and women who take what is a raw deal and turn it into gold.  Those who push themselves, who claw their way up, who ... 

Whoa, slow down there, Sparky.  OK, sure there are those “dog eat dog” types out there, but surely none of them are reading this bible study.  We know better.  We are ready to follow the Shepherd.  Right?  Of course we are.  I know that.  Just making a point.  Just engaging in some literary banter.  I know that we always turn to the Shepherd when it comes to making decisions about how we will live our lives.  I know that we will follow wherever He leads us, and do whatever He tells us to do.  That we are ready and eager to live the life of faith that we are called to live, when we get a moment.  In our spare time, Sunday mornings for sure, most of the time anyway, when we can squeeze it in.  It is a busy life we lead, and we don’t always have room for everything that we would like to be able to do.  Some days we are just getting by with the necessary stuff and are worn out before the extras.  Like faith.  Like life, abundant life.

Hmm.  OK, maybe we all struggle with the idea of a shepherd.  Of needing one, instead of being one, I mean.  Maybe we too are more likely to say we can do it on our own than we need a savior.  Maybe we are part and parcel of our culture more than we really want to admit.

Maybe we don’t want to be led all that much.  Or maybe we struggle with it more than we would like to admit.  But we certainly want to be cared for.  Of all the I Am sayings, this one ranks near the top for most of us.  Because we want to be loved.  We want to be tended, healed and gathered up.  To be mothered, and fathered.  And that is certainly on offer here.  That idea of a loving Shepherd, a loving Parent who will gather us up in strong arms of love and hold us close in the face of the terrors of living in this wild and wonderful world, is here in these verses.  We can lean into that, trust in that, take comfort in that.  

Comfort, but not complacency.  This isn’t a lotus eater life we lean into.  No, He makes it clear that the sheep are privileged to participate in this relationship, to live and be alive, not just crouch in a corner of a cage, safe and protected.  We are allowed to play a part in the establishment of a new Kingdom, a new way of living and of being.  It seems from this story to be in three stages, or three dimensions, this new way of living.

First He says we know Him.  Yes, He knows us, thanks be to God.  But we get to know Him, we are tasked with knowing Him, we are blessed to know Him.  We spend a good portion of our time learning about Him, studying His Word, basking in His presence, gathering with others who are seeking to know Him.  First we know Him.

Second, we follow Him.  That was in the first part of this passage.  Look back to verse three or verse nine, He leads us.  So we follow.  We put our lives in His hands, even as He lays His life down for us.  Where You lead, we will follow.

So far, we understand, we accept, we long for this kind of relationship.  But there is one more dimension He takes care to introduce.  There’s an odd little random verse stuck in the middle of the passage that almost seems out of place.  Go back and read verse 16.  Sheep of other folds.  Sheep you don’t know about, sheep we haven’t met yet.  And He will call them, He will bring them, because for some reason He wants us all to be one flock.  He wants us all to live this abundant life together.  Even ones from the other side.  Even the ones out there.  The ones unlike us.  He’ll call them, notice.  He’ll bring them in His time.  

So, what’s our job?  What’s our role in this folding process that He has in mind for us?  To be like the father who welcomes the prodigal home.  We run to them, we greet them, we tell them they’ve come home and they are family.  We include them.  That’s our job.  That’s our joy.  That’s our hope, the hope of the Kingdom.  Saying welcome home.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Problem With Gates

A pause in a busy weekend.  I just completed a retreat that I was leading here in town.  And I’m in charge of worship for the Conference clergy retreat that begins Sunday evening through Tuesday next week.  Plus there are four services on Sunday (this is nursing home week) to prepare for.  And I want to get this out before too much longer.  Plus I made a quick visit to the hospital to pray with a woman needing gall bladder surgery, and I know that hurts a lot.  So, it was worth the trip.

And it was as I was entering the impressive lobby of St. Francis Hospital that I discovered the problem with doors.  They have those huge revolving door that sense when someone is wanting to go through and then they start revolving.  Except it is not the normal walking speed.  It slows you down, you have to take its pace, move at its leading, and not your own.  You might have been rushing up to that moment, but as soon as you get to that door, you’ve got to slow down.  Take a breath.  Walk a slower pace.  

But that’s not the problem.  Oh, it can be frustrating, it can cause you to rethink, scale back, slow down.  But that could be a good thing, we probably need more of that, to be honest.  I know I do.  No, the problem with doors is much more fundamental than that.  It is in the very essence of doorness.  The raison d’etre of gate.  The problem with doors/gates is that you have to go through them.  

Wait.  What?  What else are doors for?  Why have a gate if you don’t go through it?  Exactly!  Why have  a door if you don’t go through it?  Jesus says I am the gate for the sheep.  And the expectation is that they will go through.  When all we want to do is huddle down in our sheep fold, with sheep just like us, same kind of woolly thinking, same kind of grass chewing, the sheep we’ve gotten used to, the sheep that look at lot like us.  Why would we go out, go through into a different world, a different place?  Aren’t we about safety and security above all?  

John 10:1-10   "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.  2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers."  6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.  7 So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.  9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

I Am the gate.  Gates speak to us of access, of limited access.  A gate usually is accompanied by a “no trespassing” sign.  Or even a “keep out” notice.  Gates are about keeping people out, about dividing, about separating, about filtering.  And certainly in this passage there is a certain amount of that.  Thieves and bandits abound, we believe, coming to steal and kill and destroy.  So, keep out!  Keep away.  Let’s be careful as to who we let in, about who we admit into the community of faith.  We have to be careful.  We have to decide who is worthy of entrance into our midst.  We have to build big gates to protect ourselves from a big bad world.

Except, look again.  He doesn’t tell us to build a gate.  He doesn’t tell us to become a gated community.  He says “I Am the gate.”  He is taking from us the responsibility of keeping the undesirables out.  He is claiming the task of determining who is worthy and who isn’t.  We can’t figure that out, we get confused, we are likely to follow any voice that sounds interesting.

Which means our job is very different.  We aren’t to be the one ones passing judgement on those around us.  Our job is to get to know His voice.  We need to spend time in His presence.  We need to listen to Him, to study His word, to follow His practice.  We need to spend our lives getting to know Him so that when we hear our name called we will know who is calling.  “The sheep follow Him because they know His voice.” 

We follow because He knows us.  We follow because He loves us.  We follow because He defines us, we are His, shaped in His image, empowered by His love, transformed by His presence.  Because He wants to be with us. 

Traveling across the wilds of Scotland, we noticed these odd little shelters scattered around on the hillsides.  They were sheepfolds, we were told.  It was essentially a circular construction of walls, not very high, but with an opening on one side.  There was no gate or door, just an opening.  The shepherd, we were told, would lie down in the opening and thus provide the protection at night.  He put his body in between the flock and the dangers of the world around them.  

That’s what He offers, a place to belong, a place to be safe, a place of acceptance and grace and joy and love.  A place where we can grow into what is within us to be.  A place where we can test the limits of our abilities, where we can trust that we are valued.  It can even be a place where we fail from time to time, but it isn’t the end of the world because there is always forgiveness and transformation.  That’s what He offers, that is the life abundant that He so much wants to give us, wants to open to us.  And, He promises He will be there.  

He will be with us.  No, He will lead us.  We follow, because He is leading us.  Leading us out. He is asking us to go through the Gate that He is.  To find the pastures where He wants us to be, to engage in the mission that He wants us to perform. That’s the problem with Gates, we have to go through.  To follow Him, follow His call.  Even when it is hard.

This week I am sharing with my congregation here at Southport that a Gate has been presented to me.  I was invited to consider becoming the Director of Preaching Ministries with Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee.  After much discernment and negotiation, I decided that this was indeed a call from the Lord I committed to follow.  And so this summer I will again go through the door that Christ has presented and follow where He leads.  

I am both excited and nervous about this transition.  In some ways moving to a denominational position seems a risky move right now. Leaving a church who has welcomed us, loved us and responded to my ministry is a difficult thing.  Yet, I have spent my ministry around the gift and craft, the art of preaching, and this position will use those gifts and that knowledge and experience in new and dynamic ways. 

So, He leads us out.  That’s what the text says.  Sure there is an in too.  In verse 9 He says “they come in and go out and find pasture.”  In verses 3 and 4 He talks about leading us out.  Leading us.  He goes before.  But it is the out that seems most crucial.  We are called to be ready to go when He calls.  That’s why we listen and learn to recognize His voice.  So that we can overcome the problem with gates.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Light of Life

The sun is shining.  Brightly.  It makes it a little hard to sit here in the study at home and write this.  I have to squint a little bit.  It’s almost overwhelming, the brightness I mean.  Yet, I am reluctant to close the blinds on our big window.  Because the light seems rare these days.  End of winter, spring trying to shoulder its way onto the calendar, shoving through the cloud and the cold and the nagging suspicion that it’ll never come.  That we’re doomed in this current world of crisis and tragedy to a time of darkness.  

I saw an internet meme the other day that sums it up.  It was a photo of a bookstore, or a library, sign.  It read simply, “the post-apocalyptic, dystopian novels are now shelved with non-fiction.”  Sums it up, it seems.  Our deepest fears.  Our darkest suspicions.  That sun blazing in my study window is a ruse, a false promise of brighter times.  We live in darkness these days.  We’re afraid, suspicious, wary of neighbor and stranger both.  I was contacted this week by someone with a plea, with a concern on the heart.  How, the question went, will we ever trust those Muslims?  They seem out to get us, to destroy our way of life, to take over and tear down.  How can we live with this?  And of course the irony of the question – which many have, I acknowledge, stoked by the rhetoric of fear that surrounds us – is that it came in the week that a gunman entered a mosque in New Zealand and killed almost fifty worshipers in that space.  Who should be afraid of whom?

There is, of course, no simple solution, no easy accusation or even diagnosis of the problems that beset us in our world community these days.  Except to say that there are many who walk in darkness. 

Duh.  I’m sorry, you’re thinking, that’s the best you can do?  In the face of this international tragedy you fall back on banalities?  You trot out cliches that sound marginally pious but don’t say anything other than the obvious.  I mean, come on.  You can do better than that, can’t you?

Well, no, I don’t think I can do better than that.  Except perhaps to say something like there is darkness in the world.  And the darkness is really dark.  Therefore, it should be our strongest desire, our deepest passion to seek the light.  And not just any light.  But a light that gives life.

OK, I can hear your eyes rolling from here.  Take a look at the text for this week while I consider how to say this in a way that doesn’t sound like something you’d read on a bumper sticker.

John 8:12-19  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."  13 Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid."  14 Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.  15 You judge by human standards; I judge no one.  16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.  17 In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid.  18 I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf."  19 Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." 

I could have simply chosen verse 12 as the text for this second week of Lent.  That is where the “I Am” saying is found.  So, we could have read one verse and then all nodded our heads and gone home.  Yep, Jesus is the light.  Got it, thanks.

The purpose of the subsequent verses is to show us that this isn’t as easy as it first seems.  This isn’t a throw away that Jesus just tosses out one fine afternoon.  This isn’t just one more metaphor being presented to help us wrap our minds around the reality of Jesus.  Or rather it isn’t just that.  It is, instead, an offer.  It is an invitation to enter into a relationship that takes us to whole new reality, a different way of being alive in the world.

To say that there is resistance is a serious understatement.  Jesus’s hearers are stunned, shocked, offended by His words.  “Who do you think you are?”, they shout red-faced at him. “What gives you the right?”  And worst of all, “Who are you to tell us we don’t know God?  We are God experts, we are black belt in God, we have PhD’s in God! You, on the other hand are a nothing nobody from nowhere!!”
This was because Jesus poked them with a sharp stick, trying to get their attention, and they don’t like it.  They are trying to take Him to court, to follow the legal rules of witness and testimony.  He says, I’m not here for that.  “I judge no one,” isn’t an abdication of His role as the Lord of Lords, but an indication that He isn’t here for rules right now, but for relationships.  It’s not time for rules, it’s not time for courts, for trials and affidavits - if it was you’d be in even more trouble than you are right now.  

He gets a little heated, it seems to me.  Because they threw in His face the standard line from any who would oppose us, who would stand in our way, who would challenge our word and our faith: “Prove it!”  Arghh, I hate that line.  Whether I got it from my kids, or the pagan down the street, or the seeker in the pew, or the soul lost in the darkness of his own making, or of her circumstance.  Prove it.  And what makes this question so doggone frustrating is that I find it on my own lips, in my own heart from time to time.  “Prove it, Jesus.”  Prove you are who You say You are, prove it to me so that there is no shadow of doubt, no dark corner of suspicion in the worldly part of me, prove it so that I never waver in my allegiance, never stray from your path, never lose my grip on that strong hand folded around mine.  Prove it.  Please.

If you take out the verses at the beginning of Chapter 8 here in John (a story which many say is in the wrong place and messes up the order of things), and look back to the beginning of this long debate, you’ll discover that Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles.  Like all the great festivals, this one is marked by ritual and ceremony, by tradition and celebration.  On the first night of the festival, four lamps, or large torches were brought out to the court of the women, one of the outer courts and lit up to chase away the darkness.  It was said that when these torches were lit there was no courtyard in Jerusalem that couldn’t see the light.  In the light of the these festival lamps, the leaders and the followers, the wise and the foolish, the saints and the sinners, the rich and the poor would dance.  It was the very Presence of God that brought them through the darkness of the exodus, so what else could you do but dance?  It was an expression of Joy, bubbling forth from the least and the greatest, made equal by the grace of that light.  

It was in that light that Jesus said “I Am the light of the world,” the source of true joy, the fullness of life.  You can’t prove it, you have to experience it.  You can’t prove it, you have to accept it.  If He did prove it for us, He would remove from us the opportunity to choose.  Or as my daughter Maddie used to show me, He holds out his hand and gives us the grace to accept the invitation to dance.  He gives us the opportunity, the joy of saying yes.  The only proof He allows for those who still walk in darkness is the dance of those who have said yes.  We are the proof, our lives lived out in joy and hope and sometimes terrifying desperation.

Whoever follows me, He says, will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.  A bold claim.  An impossible claim, it seems to me.  Given that the world is so full of darkness, given that there is darkness within us – the darkness of fear and doubt and brokenness.  It seems like no one can follow, no one does follow.  Unless He doesn’t really mean that nothing will ever go wrong for and by the ones who follow Him.  Unless He means that even when we stumble, even when we let the darkness get the better of us for a time, that we will never choose the darkness, we will never succumb to the darkness and let hate rule in our hearts.  Unless He means that in there, in the core of our being, the depths of our souls, the part we once surrendered to Him, dwells a light that makes us alive, and by that light we can live for Him even in the darkest moments.  And so prove, to ourselves at least, that He lives, the Light of the world lives.  Thanks be to God.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bread Words

I’m just back from the preaching class at Course of Study.  I’m filled up with words.  With words and the Word, to be precise.  Words are our medium most of the time, though we also hope for experience too.  But this Lent especially we are people of the Word and focused on words.  And we’ll look at the words of the Incarnate Word, Jesus the Christ.  And not just words from the Word, but the words from the Word about the Word!  Whew.  And then, we’re going to look at the Gospel of John to find these words from the Word about the Word.  

“The Gospel of John is a veritable symphony of incomprehension.”  That’s what Bishop William Willimon, said in the commentary series called Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 3, p. 309.  About John.  That Gospel that stands apart, sounds different, feels different, is different.  That’s where we’ll go for our words.

So, we are launching a Lent of incomprehension.  And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.  I know, it seems odd.  Isn’t my job to make sense of things?  Aren’t I a communicator, and shouldn’t I be marked down if folks come out of a worship or learning experience with a look of puzzlement on their faces?  Didn’t I fail at my task if confusion reigns?  

Well, I used to think so.  Still do, if I’m honest.  I want everyone to get it.  Get it?  I want a morning’s worth of ah-ha moments.  I want insight and understanding, I want clarity and decision, I want commitment and determination.  That’s what I want.  Certainly, I do.

So, to help get us there, I chose a Lenten series on the “I Am” sayings in the Gospel of John.  The veritable symphony of incomprehension, that gospel. You know, the “he didn’t get it” one.  The “she missed the point” narrative.  The “and the crowd threw up their hands in confusion and wandered off bewildered” story of Jesus.

I know that some of these sayings are favorite verses of many.  “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Gate.”  “I am the Bread of Life.”  But almost all of them come in the midst of some of the most confusing dialogue in the whole Bible.  It almost sounds as though Jesus doesn’t really want people to get it.  Like He is being deliberately obscure.  Like He wants to leave us with mouths agape and fingers scratching wrinkled brows, and eyes looking in vain to see if anyone else has a clue.

John 6:26-35   Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."  28 Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?"  29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."  30 So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?  31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"  32 Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  34 They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."  35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 

See what I mean?  Before this He was offering water so that we would never be thirsty, now He is offering bread so that we would never be hungry.  No, He is bread.  Is bread.  Some argue this is a hint about communion.  He is telling the church to be that one day we will engage in a ritual that will use bread to remind us of Him.  Well, sure.  But there has to be more here than a future liturgical hint. 

Maybe what we are tripping over here is not the bread.  I know that seems to be the confusion.  Jesus says to the crowds who have hunted him down that they were there for the wrong reasons.  They were there to get something to eat.  They were there to fill their bellies, to see that trick with the few loaves of bread that fed five thousand.  But when Jesus points it out to them, they are surprisingly amenable to change.  “Don’t work for food that perishes,” He says, “but for the food that endures for eternal life.”  Well, duh, they say to Him, that’s why we’re here.  What you’ve been handing out is different than what we can pick up at Mejier’s or even Fresh Market!  So, hand over that “special” stuff!

Wait, He said work for it.  OK, what’s the work we’ve got to do?  “Believe in the one whom God sent.”  It was Lewis Carroll’s White Queen who claimed that in her youth she could believe six impossible things before breakfast.  Is that the kind of workout that Jesus invites us to undertake?  Get those believing muscles a-workin’!

There’s the rub, it seems to me.  We don’t normally associate believing with work.  Believing is a mental exercise, an internal activity that might be difficult but not really strenuous.  Jesus is asking for an intellectual assent, right?  He’s asking us to wrap our minds around the knowledge of who he is.  He wants us to understand, and agree, to sign on the dotted line of faith.  Right?

Wrong.  I think that this is why we (and they, those first followers struggled with it too) are so confused by what Jesus has to say.  Jesus never asks for understanding.  He doesn’t come and say “figure me out!”  “I’m a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma and once you puzzle it out you’ve got it made!”  Like some holy Rubik’s cube, or those golf tee peg things at Cracker Barrel.  Figure it out and you win, faith becomes easy.  

Jesus isn’t some puzzle to solve, but a companion with whom we walk.  When Jesus invites us to believe in him, He isn’t talking about an intellectual exercise as much as an act of will.  He is asking us to put our lives in his hands.  To commit to living the way He lives, to dedicate our lives to the priorities that He holds, to becoming like Him, loving like Him.  That’s the work He invites us to enter.  This is the bread He invites us to consume.  

You are what you eat.  That’s the faith declaration that Jesus claims in this passage.  So, eat this bread, drink from this belief.  And what you will find is what you have longed for, what you have hungered for is already within you.  He is the Bread, He is the Word.  Bread is the staple of life, some argue.  It is the ubiquitous food that sustains and fills.  It represents what we need to survive.  It stands for the sign of our dependance, but also our ability to be nourished by what is provided.  Bread is an acknowledgment that we do indeed hunger but also that we know how to fill those hungers.  

And words are the means we have of accessing that bread.  Give us this bread always, we say.  Give us these words, the words said to us and the words we say to others.  The word we hear and the word we speak, and the Word we feast upon.  We’re all about words this Lenten season.  His Words.  The words from the Word about the Word.  Bread Words.