Will your tables be decadent this afternoon?
Will you stuff yourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, token vegetables, cranberry sauce, pie, and of course. . .stuffing?
Will you be so full you’ll need to take a walk to feel human again? Will you be so full you’ll just fall asleep in front of the television?
During Thanksgiving the food we eat is bounteous because it symbolizes the bounty of all that God has given us. When we stuff ourselves with buttered rolls and creamed corn, we are acknowledging that God has stuffed us with blessings.
Take a moment now and think about the blessings in your life.
Now, turn to a neighbor and tell them three blessings God has given you.
During so much of our lives we focus on what we long for. We long for closer relationships. We long for true love. We long for the past or the future. We long for meaningful work. Sometimes we long for any work at all. We long for bigger houses, newer cars. We long for new clothes and handbags. Well, I long for new clothes and handbags.
During all this longing, it can be difficult to remember our blessings! We live in a culture that feeds our longing, waters our longing, nurtures it until our longing feels like a need. Our culture stretches and grows our longing until our longing looms so large that what we have been given looks meager and pitiful in comparison.
Those that followed Jesus in John’s gospel longed, too. They had just seen Jesus break bread and fish into thousands of miraculous pieces and feed a giant crowd. Even though they could eat their fill-they could have been as stuffed as they wanted to-this food was not enough. They don’t know what they want, but they know they want to follow Jesus.
Jesus knows the people are following him because of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. However, Jesus is not content to let them think of him as a miracle man or even a very generous chef.
Jesus knows that, even if they don’t know it, the people following him long for more than a snack. They long for more than they can consciously identify. Jesus knows that at the core of each of our longings, we long for connection with the divine. Even a longing for a handbag, at its deepest core, is a longing to feel completed, accepted and loved.
So, Jesus turns the tables on his followers. They want bread from him, but he tells them that he IS the Bread of Life. Jesus’ followers crave something that will fill them temporarily, but Jesus knows he has the capacity to fill them eternally. Jesus fills our longings, too.
Jesus fills our longings for acceptance, for love, for direction, for worth, for nourishment. He is our bread of life, not just the bread of life for those who heard his discourses in person.
And for that, we count our blessings.