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What are you chasing?

(A sermon from Pastor Will for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, read John 6:24-35)

In the name of the Father, +Son and Holy Spirit

Last Sunday Pastor Mark did an incredible job weaving a sci-fi geeky Star Trek reference with the gospel story of Jesus feeding the 5000.

I was super proud of Pastor Mark’s geek-cred, and so I’m making Pastor Mark an honorary member of “God Loves Geeks!”

Not to be outdone, this morning I want to talk about Loki.

Yep, Loki - that legendary trickster god of Norse Mythology.

But also, that rascal of a character that causes so much trouble in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Loki is Thor’s mischievous brother in Norse Mythology.

But also, in the comic books and big blockbuster movies, a Marvel villain that is actually the one that brings the Avengers together to assemble to fight against world ending threats.

And so, after 10 years of 22 Marvel movies…

Loki got his own TV streaming show on Disney Plus.

A show that expands what happened to Loki at the end of Avengers: End Game… you see in End Game, Loki steals the Space Stone, held within the Tesseract, which caused a divergent branch in the timeline, so the Time Variant Authority had to pluck Loki out of the timeline to protect the sacred timeline.

(I know, I know… it’s a whole thing)

Now if you haven’t watched the show and I’ve piqued your interest, don’t worry, I will not spoil the show. And if you aren’t interested at all, you don’t need to watch it to get my point.

There is this scene in the first episode of the series where Mobius, played by Owen Wilson, sits Loki down for a visual and oral life review.

Mobius forces Loki to take a deeper look at his life choices and actions and he askes him some important questions, like “why do you cause so much trouble?”

“What’s your purpose?”

Loki, “Well, to claim my throne as ruler of Midgard/Earth.”

Mobius, “Ok Loki, so you conquer earth. Then what?”

Loki, “Well, I’ll then conquer Asgard.”

Mobius, “Ok, then what?”

Loki, “Well, I’ll then conquer the universe.”

Mobius, “Ok, conquer and ruler of Space… then what?”

Mobius keeps pushing and challenging Loki to ask those all important questions…

What are you really chasing?

What are you truly searching for?

What do you hunger for?

What are you thirsting for?

The classic philosophers and gurus across any timeline have challenged us to ask these questions daily.

You see, mindfulness and intentionality isn’t anything new.

This past week leading surf camp and teaching surf lessons at Camp Agape/Kure Beach we started each day reflecting on some goals and intentions to start our day.

I shared with our group that to be a complete and whole surfer is not just grabbing the board and jumping in the water catching every wave you can find.

Rather, there needs to be intentional time to read the ocean and beach around us. To observe what’s going on around you and to be mindful and intentional with our actions and the goals we set within the environment we are playing in.

And then after time in the water, during our meals together I would ask them questions like…

“What did you learn about yourself today?”

“What did you learn about others, and the ocean?”

What would that look like if we asked those same kind of questions and to be that intentional with our faith and spirituality, and how we live in community with one another?

This is what we attempt to do at God Loves Geeks. We take a piece of entertainment, something we geek out on, and we use it as a means to go deeper into the questions we all ask and wrestle with. Like, “What does it mean to be human?” “What gifts do I have and how am I using them?” “What kind of team am I a part of and what’s our calling and purpose in the world?”

To be honest this is what we seek to do in weekly worship as well. To reflect on the week behind us and the week ahead of us and reflect on where God showed up and opening ourselves up to how will God show up this week. To hear again God’s word and promise in our lives and to allow these tangible sacramental elements of grace to shape how we navigate the world we live, work and play in.

To ask again, “what are we chasing?”

“What are we searching for?”

And to then hear God remind us again who we are and who we belong to.

Today, our gospel reading is what follows after Jesus and his disciples feed over 5000 humans with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

If you were going to create a best-of album for Jesus, or his best-of “miracles” or “signs”, the Feeding of the 5000 would be at the top. It’s in all four gospels and its central in understanding who Jesus was and is and how he operates in the world.

The gospel of John doesn’t just share what happens during the miracle but also what happens after.

(John 6:24-27) “So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they… got into boats and went to look for Jesus… when they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked… ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’

Jesus responded, “you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”

Now I want you to notice, that in this story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus didn’t drill them with questions before the miracle or sign, before feeding them. Jesus saw their need and provided for them as a sign of God’s action in the world.

But as they press Jesus for more.

Jesus presses them back to go deeper.

Within our story they do go back and forth in this conversation about signs and food and even recapping their history with God that goes all the way back to the Exodus.

But underneath it all, Jesus is pushing and challenging them to go deeper in the questions…

What are you really chasing?

What are you truly searching for?

What do you hunger for?

What are you thirsting for?

And then Jesus makes this move, this bold claim…

In whatever you are chasing and searching for…

In whatever you are hungry or thirsty for…

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Now does this mean that if I go to church, or claim to follow Jesus, or that if I “just have enough faith” that I will never need to go to the grocery store again? That I will not need to worry about myself or my neighbor when it comes to literal food?

I don’t believe that is what Jesus is getting at.

But rather Jesus is making this sacramental connection to our deep longings, our deep hunger and thirst for life and fulfillment.

Jesus isn’t condemning them or belittling them for looking for more food. But he is challenging them, and us, to go deeper to look harder at the nature and purpose of their, and our, quest.

And so, I believe it is important to us to take Jesus at his word and promise…

He is the “Bread of Life” where our deepest desires and longings find their home, and where we discover our cosmic significance.

But also, as we continue to learn and grow and become the disciples Jesus calls us to be, we are also called to continue to ask and wrestle with those all important questions of…

What are we chasing?

What are we searching for?

What kind of food are we consuming in this quest?

And how can we help alleviate the hunger and thirst around us?

You see, both physical and spiritual hunger and thirst cannot be separated.

As we are poised to gather back together under one roof on August 15th.

These are the questions that we will keep asking and wrestling with together.

As we look for Jesus together.

We will listen again and anew to Jesus who asks us in our quest, “what are you truly searching for?”

As we look and search for signs of God around us.

We will gather here on a weekly basis and once again return to the table of Holy Communion and hear again and again the promise, “this is my body given for you”, “this is my blood shed for you.”

We will then become what we eat.

Become what we consume.

We will become the body of Christ in and for the world ready to face the week ahead of us.

AMEN, let it be so.



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