Flesh & Blood
The Rev. Jon Roberts
Calvary Episcopal Church
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Abide In Me and I In You by Michelle Sparks, 2016
Flesh and Blood and Flesh and Blood and you’re the one I need.
In 1970, the great songwriter and musician, Johnny Cash took his wife, June and their two daughters to a lovely place in Dekalb Co., Tennessee. There, they had a picnic where they sat by the banks, cooked hotdogs and sang a few songs by the fire. He managed to get away for a stroll and became acutely aware of his surroundings, and what mother nature had to offer. The rippling waters, the smell of the pines, birds chirping and the shade of the willow. As he admired the beauty of nature in his thoughts, he would soon transcribe as lyrics onto paper. In this song, he gave a disclaimer that it was being written for someone special in his life. He summarized his heartfelt testimony at the end with these lyrics:
So when this Day was ended
I was still not satisfied
For I knew ev'rything I touched
Would wither and would die
And Love is all that will remain
And grow from all these Seed;
Mother Nature's quite a Lady
But you're the one I need.
Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
And you're the one I need.
Many would say he wrote about his beloved wife and children, but those who knew Cash, knew he had a devout religion, believing God alone has the ability to redeem the sinner. He sends those to rescue us in our times of need, duress and even our addiction, as was the case for Johnny. He knew life was more than the here and the now. It was about something much greater; greater than nature and our place in it. It could only be understood through flesh and blood, flesh and blood, through Christ is all we need. Perhaps the Man in Black took to heart the readings today. King David who, built a large kingdom, was troubled by committing adultery and perhaps paid dearly for foolish living. Maybe he heard what St. Paul warned us about. Not to live foolishly, getting drunk and living a debaucherously life, but strive to understand the will of God. Sing spiritual songs and hymns of praise.
There must be more to this life. Jesus reminds us to what that is. He has been telling us throughout the sixth chapter of St. John that he is the bread of life. It is a true message and worthy of all believers, but somehow we have to get through the symbolic nature of it and dive deep into the application of what it means to us. We have to walk further along this path, leading to these waters; hearing the sounds of this message and smelling its fragrant meaning. When Jesus said I am the bread of life, he soon tells us it is living bread, and next it is his flesh. His body and his blood are real in creation, when consumed.
Can you imagine what it must have sounded like in that day? It is one thing to say, “I am the bread of life,” but something quite extraordinary to extrapolate that to mean, "This bread is my flesh" and you are to eat it. This wine is my blood and you are to drink it. It must have come across as cannibalistic, as it did the first three centuries. Who in their right mind is going to eat a human being, flesh and blood. What God shows us through His Son is that we do not even exist in the natural order unless He wills it. The air we breath, the water we drink and everything else is because God gave it to us. What goes deeper than this understanding? Flesh and Blood.
Family members, when faced with great challenges such as crises related to separation, addiction, health problems, injuries and death, war and tribulation will always dig deep on that understanding, that bond that holds us together. When times are bad between us and within us, we can always salvage the relationship, saying we will make it through this. We are flesh and blood. We are interrelated, interwoven, made so by Jesus the Christ. We are invited at the Eucharist, to step from this temporal world and go into that which is eternal. We are required to fully appreciate what God has given us. Jesus, by flesh and blood, has reached out to each one of us so that we may endure the moment and persevere. He strengthens that bond in Word and Sacrament and vows to protect those who call upon his name. Going back to the words of Johnny Cash, and making a slight adaptation, in the spirit of his words, our song is this.
So when this day has ended,
Will you be satisfied?
For, don’t you know everything you touch,
Will eventually wither and die?
But love is all that will remain,
And grow from all the Seed,
And although Mother Nature is quite the Lady,
There is only one in whom all we need.
Through flesh and blood, flesh and blood,
Jesus is all we need.
 Johnny Cash, Flesh and Blood, 1971
 1 Kings 2:10-3:14
 Ephesians 5:15-20
 John 6:51-58