Written by Matthew Laney
"My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink." - 6:55
It's all fine and good to have Thanksgiving dinner at your mother's Unitarian Universalist church as long as you are not outed as a Christian minister.
At that point you might be made to defend the faith, as I was (on my day off mind you), against an onslaught of pointed questions about our barbaric theology of the cross, the distraction of heaven, original sin and the general judgyness of Christians. Especially those Catholics.
Jesus got a few pointed questions that day after the feeding of the 5,000 when he started in with the hard to swallow "eat my flesh" and "drink my blood" talk. If you listen closely you might hear the crowd muttering "He'll never get anywhere talking like that! We come to worship to be comforted not offended."
In her book, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, Kathleen Norris shares a time when she received a pointed comment from a skeptic: "I don't understand how you can get so much comfort from a religion whose language does so much harm."
Norris understood. Upon her return to the church after a 20-year hiatus she was wary of words like repentance, salvation, blood and antichrist. She answered, "This religion has saved my life, my husband's life, and our marriage. So it's not comfort that I'm talking about but salvation.
We all want comfort (I'm a fan), but comfort is not what Jesus wants most for us. He wants to feed us, to free us and save us, even if it kills him.
Lord, help me not to turn away from you and those you love today, even when I'm turned off.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.