Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rev. Jared Slack

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.

Then they said to him, What must we do to perform the works of God?
Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.

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? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
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. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
They said to him, Sir, give us this bread always.John 6:27-34

This morning, I watched an episode of the HBO Original Series, GIRLS, where the main character, Hannah, was urgently called home to see her grandmother one last time before she passed away. Most of her family was there and in one scene her mother and two aunts were busy wandering around her grandmothers house placing color-coded post-it notes on the items they each wanted to claim for themselves.

And then I read Jesus words about identifying the food that perishes versus the food that endures. I sort of got this mental image of myself doing something rather similar to Hannahs mom and aunts in my own Christian journey labeling those things that I should keep around versus those that just need to go.

I would say that ever since my sophomore year of college, Ive been metaphorically post-it-noting my way through life and tossing out the stuff I didnt think I needed anymore.

Fundamentalism went first, Legalism a close second.

Then all my books by John Piper, Joshua Harris, Josh McDowell and others in their conservative tribe whose names dont alliterate.  I sold all my Third Day and Michael W. Smith CDs at Half-Price Books and threw away every piece of WWJD paraphernalia I owned (there was a lot).  And I stopped going to that church. The ones where they played electric guitars, projected song lyrics onto screens, used dimmer switches on the lights, and congregants raised their hands and swayed during worship.

I became a Moderate.

I took three sips of beer on my 21st birthday under the cloak of night, dangling my feet over the side of a rickety dock on Lake Belton, toasting the demise of legalism in my life.

I started reading books about the real history of Baptists in America and wrote a senior thesis titled, The Promise of Post-Foundational Theology.” And I started going to that church with a rich choral tradition, predictable liturgy, and hymnals in the pew backs next to the visitor cards that they really, really wanted me to fill out and put in the offering plate as it passed.

It felt so liberating to shed all the superfluous, perishable stuff to rid myself of this need for the, flash-in-the-pan, glitter and glam of my adolescent faith. To be able to go to church and NOT have my emotions manipulated. To hear a sermon that DIDNT subconsciously tug at that part of me ruled by fear, shame and guilt.

I even skipped church every now and then and I didnt feel like an abject failure.

I also got really good at defending my churchs commitment to classic hymnody and Im now the poster child for lectionary loving lumbersexuals the world over.

(Ill wait here while you google, lumbersexual)

But I have to admit that sometimes I really miss the dimmed lights.

I miss playing my guitar and singing songs that were written two weeks ago, not two centuries, and having people stumble and fumble their way along as they intensely and eagerly seek out the melody to this new song they're singing to God. I miss the emotion; no matter how misguided it might have been at moments. I miss feeling things so deeply and intimately and not having to intellectualize every little thing.

You see, I think theres a reason why Jesus came as bread. Gandhi once said, There are so many hungry people in the world that God could only come into the world in the form of food.

Sure, I dont miss the legalism, fundamentalism, guilt, or ooey-gooey love songs about Jesus being my buddy but could it be that some things arent as perishable as I once thought? Could it be that the bread God offers can give life whenever, wherever and however it pleases? Could it be that we just need to get rid of the labels all together?

Of course, Jesus isnt handing out stacks of post-it notes and saying we should clean house regarding how communities choose to express their faith or for an upheaval of how weve always done things.

Neither am I, for that matter.

Im just saying that Im hungry.

Rev. Jared Slack is the Minister to Younger Adults & Discipleship.  Follow him on Twitter @jaredslack or check out his blog,


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