Food and Faith 3 – Meeting the Stranger at the Table

By: Joanna Roddy

Movie Clips in this Sermon:

At 1:42 minutes into Sermon : stopped to watch Babette’s Feast movie clip (1:12:14 through 1:15:05)
At 7:04 minutes into Sermon : stopped to watch Babette’s Feast movie clip (1:36:49 through 1:41:05)

Food & Faith Series
At the table we meet God, one another, and the stranger. Food can be an idol, but also an expression of worship. It can cause us to stand in judgement of others, or it can be an encounter with grace. Food roots us in stories and heritage. Eating can even be an act of liberation!

I Am the Bread of Life

Week 1:  I am the Bread of Life – John 6

Series:  “I Am”s & Identity – Discipleship & Attachment in the Gospel of John

Ryan M. & Karen R.
April 12, 2015
Church of the Beloved



Discipleship and Attachment in the Gospel of John

We are going to take a look at the Gospel of John this Easter Season and specifically, compare the theological concept of discipleship with the therapeutic concept of attachment. We have a number of therapists in our community and Jackie and I have asked a number of them to help us with this task, so at the end of each sermon, instead of having a Free Form time, we will be in conversation with a different counselor each week in order to give us a different angle on the topic.

Introduction to Gospel of John:

Each of the 4 Gospels has a unique audience.
The books within the Bible are not written to us
but they are written for us.

– Mark is written for a Greek speaking audience – one that needs explanation of Jewish custom and aramaic terms, but is familiar with Latin terms – possibly a Roman audience.

– Matthew is distinctly Jewish, with more Hebrew Bible references than any other Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as the New Moses, the new law giver.

– Luke is written to “Theopholis” – translated means “the lovers of God,”
meant to be read aloud in the gathering of believers.

Mark, Matthew and Luke, all share the same basic structure and narrative flow.  If you’ve read them you’ll notice that in some places they are identical to each other.  But you’ll probably also notice that John’s Gospel is very different than the Synoptics.  Here’s a couple ways that John is different:

1. There’s no infancy narrative in John.
Instead of “Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem.”  In John we get “in the beginning was the word, the word was the light, the light was the life…”

2. John is a very cosmic Gospel.
Sometimes it feels like an LSD trip.  It’s a very mystical Gospel. You hear it in the way Jesus speaks.  He sounds like a Yogi in the Gospel of John.  Sometimes you have to read a passage five times to even start to understand what he’s talking about.

3. There’s also a different ordering of events in John –
For instance Jesus clears the temple right away, whereas in the synoptics Jesus clears the temple at the end book.

4. Much fewer miracles in John.  
Instead John is concerned with ‘signs’.  Miracles signal another reality.  The miracle itself is not as important as the thing it signifies. In John Jesus doesn’t do miracles, so much as Jesus is the miracle.

5. Lastly, there are no parables in John.  
The synoptics are full of parables, but instead, in this gospel Jesus embodies parables.
Like with the miracles, it’s as if Jesus is the parable in the book of John.

This book is made up of really long conversations, face to face encounters,
not the kind of single wise sayings of Jesus, but lengthy encounters with complex characters.  Remember the stories we told during the season of Lent? The woman at the well, Nicodemus the pharisee, the man born blind… they all come from John.
So we can see that this is a highly relational Gospel.  It’s deeply concerned with relationships.

This is one of the reasons why Marty Stortz, a professor at Pacific Lutheran says that John’s Gospel is a “discipleship Gospel”.

Chapter 21 says that the Disciple whom Jesus Loved – the Beloved, is the witness to this Gospel.  But it’s also the latest Gospel to be written, long after the temple was destroyed, probably around 120 or so, after John had died.  There is a lot of evidence to suggest that it was written by a second generation of Jesus followers, who were part of John’s community.  What John witnessed in Jesus, John passed down to others,
and they wrote it down, and passed that down to new disciples… and so on, till it came to us – this group of Beloved disciples.
    So it’s a discipleship gospel.

QUESTION: What comes to mind when you hear the word disciple?

QUESTION: When have you been poorly mentored?

QUESTION: When have you been mentored well?

QUESTION: What would it mean for you to be discipled by Jesus, now in the 21st century?  (Given the complications of not currently being in human form before you)?

I’m hoping that the Gospel of John is going to give us some clues to this question of how Jesus disciples us.

 Discipleship in John is about identity. – Marty Stortz
Think about how parents worry about who their kids hang out with,
Why? Because who we hang out with shapes our character –
the Gospel of John is largely stories about hanging out with Jesus in lots of situations.
The call of discipleship is in Jesus’ first words: “come and see” in reply to Peter and Andrew, “where are you staying?” This echoes the prologue’s good news that “the word became flesh and dwelled with us.”

Our identity gets shaped by hanging out with Jesus, especially as we come to see who he is.

Jesus offers a series of “I am” statements about himself.
He says, “I am the bread of life” in todays Gospel.
He says, “I am the way, the truth, the life”
I am the resurrection
I am the good shepherd
I am the gate
I am the world’s light
I am the vine…

Each of these tell us something about Jesus… but they are also relational revelations
I am the vine… therefore that means you are the branches.
It also tells us about who we are in relationship to Jesus.

So let’s look, very briefly, at the first I AM:  Jesus says, “I am the bread of life”

He says this in the context of a much bigger story in which he feeds thousands of people, and it says “then the crowd wants to come and take him by force to make him king.”  So what does Jesus do? It seems to me that Jesus is questioning their motives for following him – “Why do you want my disciples? Are you here for the show? the spectacle of miracles? Or are you here for the free food?  the bread? Or are you here for me? Jesus has thousands of followers and what does he do?  He grosses them out.
He says, “if you’re here for the spectacle – I’m it.  If you are here for the bread, I’m it.
I am the bread of life.  Here’s my body.  Here’s my blood.  Eat up you cannibals.”
And what do they say? “This teaching is too hard for us.”  Which is first century speak for, “You are off your rocker Jesus.” And all the thousands of disciples go away.  Only the 12 are left. He goes from 12 disciples to 5,000 and back down to 12 overnight. Worst church planter ever. Don’t you think it’s weird that Jesus thwarts his popularity?
What I think is going on in this story is what Jesus is always doing in every encounter he has.  Jesus is trying to get to the heart of their desire.  “Why do you really want to be my disciple?  What do you want out of it?  What do you want?
And this is the question I think Jesus is asking of us too.  Do you really want to be my disciple?  If so, why?  What do you want? Because when you become my disciple, what you get is me, Jesus. If you are here for the free food or for the miraculous… you’re gonna be disappointed. But if you are here for me… I’m here for you.
This seems to be the initiation into disciple in the way of Jesus.  There’s no bait and switch here.  There’s no rewards program or new users gift bag. Jesus is kind enough to repulse disciples who are in for the perks.
So what’s motivating you to become a disciple of Jesus? What does your heart say to you?  This is really important to wrestle with this question early.  Even, “why are you here at Beloved?  It can’t be for the big glorious programs…  So, are you here for Jesus?  To somehow get close to him.  To somehow become discipled by him?  If so, that’s where we’re headed this season.  But, on the other hand that might sound repulsive to you.  I don’t know.

(Move into attachment talk with Karen)

Cleaning House


Our baptismal vow asks us this essential question:  Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?

I wonder, “What could keep us from proclaiming by word and example the good news of God in Christ?  Will it be persecution?  The threat of imprisonment, torture or death?”  Nah.  Probably nothing so severe as that.  The greatest threat to us living out our baptismal vow to proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ is busyness.  Busyness is one of the most oppressive forces in our lives.  We are just too busy to be the body of Christ.

I was at an emerging Church conference a little while ago where someone asked a panel of church leaders, “How would you characterize these new generations of Christians?” and one rather crushing answer was, “Too busy to live out their ideals”.  As I looked around the room everyone nodded their head in agreement.  This is so true for me.  I treasure the silence and the solitude I experience in the half-minute walk I take around my car between putting Moses in his car seat and getting into the driver’s seat.  I walk s-l-o-w-l-y.  It’s like a 30 second sabbath.  We’re too busy to be the body of Christ, our lives are too full to be fulfilling and not empty enough to make room for what matters to us.

Social researcher Liah Greenfeld wrote:

“Americans who suffer from busyness today do not prioritize. They treat all their occupations– work, family, and even leisure–as equally important… [Americans] are busy not because our physical and economic survival requires constant exertion on our part, leaving us little opportunity for spiritual restoration–relaxing, getting rid of the sense of busyness–but because we are incapable of perceiving and taking advantage of the opportunities for repose. We are restless. And our busyness is an expression of this inability to rest, rather than its cause… We are veritably torn into pieces by all these simultaneous and necessarily conflicting demands that oppress us every minute of our waking life and eventually invade our sleep.”

I read that and thought, “Yep. We’re just too busy to be the body of Christ”.  But this story about Jesus clearing the Temple wants to speak into our busyness and say, “It’s not too late to clean house, because Jesus has some serious zeal for the Temple.  St. Paul makes this connection, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? …God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

So it’s really not much of a jump to say, “Jesus is consumed by zeal for you.”  He wants to clean house, clear out all the clutter and the busyness that keeps us from fully living when our lives start to look like an episode of Hoarders.

We don’t have to be afraid of this zeal.  Jesus is not going to harm you, even though things we mistakenly cling to will be challenged, and that certainly is scary.  But his is a protective anger on your behalf towards all the consumption that takes up room in you, but does not fulfill you and leaves no room in you for meaningful relationship with God or anyone else.

“Cleaning the Temple” is what it means to say, “No”.  Saying “No” is the energy to clean house.  Saying “No” creates the boundaries to hold that empty space.  Saying “No” makes room to decide what to give your “Yes” to.  So, without fear, wonder what space needs clearing in your life?  What “No” might Jesus be saying in your life in order that you might more fully say “Yes” to something else? These questions form the basis of the personal address of our Gospel.

But there’s also a wider address for our culture in this passage that we should not forget. The Gospel says, “Jesus poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” The reason why money needed to be changed in the temple was because pilgrims were traveling to Jerusalem from far away countries and the temple was making big bucks off of this dirty exchange of currency.  In clearing the temple Jesus was saying “No” to the JPMorgan of the time, who turned a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s deception.

The Gospel says, “Jesus told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!’” In the Jewish Temple doves were the offerings of the poor purchased by those could not afford a lamb or a goat. In clearing the temple Jesus was saying “No” to the Wells Fargo of the time, who gave bonuses to loan officers who put minority borrowers into high-priced subprime mortgages—internally dubbing them “ghetto loans.”

The Gospel says, “Jesus told them, ‘My house is to be called a house of prayer for all nations’ But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”  In the Jewish Temple there were few places where Gentiles were allowed to worship and that’s where all this business was located.  All the buying and selling had pushed out any room for prayer – which the reason why the Temple was built. But buying and selling had pushed out any room for the Gentile to pray – instead they were treated like a commodity, like a profit unit.  In clearing the temple Jesus was saying “No” to the Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs of the time, who gave tens of millions of dollars of bonuses to their top executives while duping their own clients.

I can’t think of a better time than now to call upon the words of the prophet Amos, who said:

“Hear this, you who trample the needy
and do away with the poor of the land, saying,

‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain,
When will the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”—
skimping on the measure, boosting the price
and cheating with dishonest scales,
buying the poor with silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals.’

Your gig is up and it’s time for a clean sweep.

The Temple was full and needed emptying.  Our banks are full and in need of emptying.  And there’s a way in which we too are full and in need of emptying. We need emptying so that we might be a house of prayer to cultivate earnest relationship to God. Do you have room for prayer and relate to God? When’s the last time you cleared your schedule and just kept it that way determined to nurture intimacy with your God?  Like the Jewish Temple, this is what we’re made for.  This is the essential.  What’s stopping us?

And we need emptying so that we might be a place for ‘all nations’, a place to cultivate relationship with the ‘Other’.  Do you have room for strangers, for those who are outside of your family or outside your circle of friends?  When’s the last time you had someone over for dinner? (We all know your house is messy, no one cares about that except you – are you gonna let that stop you from the thing that God says is essential – that is, the welcoming of the outsider?)

We are too busy to be the body of Christ, but Jesus is consumed by a zeal for you and wants to give you the courage to say “No” to everything that wants to fill up your time and your energy but never really fulfills you.  It’s time to make a fast from busyness as usual and enter the liminal empty space of Lent. It will feel like the destruction of the Temple. It will certainly feel like death. But Jesus makes you this promise, “In three days it will be rebuilt.” Your whole life will be rebuilt, cluttered rooms of your life will be swept clean, time will bend to a new rhythm, priorities will reorder their importance, and life will unfold in a whole new way so that we can get back to being the body of Christ, so that we can answer “with God’s help we will” when asked “Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ.”

New-ish Music is Here!

It’s Here!

A brand new collection of 11 soulful songs from Church of the Beloved and the community who brought you “Hope for a Tree Cut Down”.


Remember that?

When we released our first album, Hope for a Tree Cut Down, we made a risky decision to offer it as a free download.  We wanted to share it with as many people as we could and we were shocked at how far it reached (over 15,000 downloads in 33 countries) and moved by how many people wrote to us telling us about all the lovely ways the music had been used (worship, yoga, marriages, funerals, baptisms, hip-hop remix, mission statements…).  The music seemed to meet people in some extremely deep places.

Do it again!

Well, a lot of new music has been bubbling up in us and it’s time to do it again.  We’ve selected our very best songs and are hard at work creating something truly special. We’re calling it, Songs for a Mystical Supper.  We want to release this as a free download again, hoping to get it out to as many people as we can and treating it as a gift to the world and a resource to the Church who is in need of thoughtful, soulful music.

That’s where you come in.

Over 40 people have been involved in creating this new album and, so far, every session in the studio has been “chills down our backs worthy” (See some pics of us in the studio below). We are really excited to release it, and that’s where you come in. Church of the Beloved is a small, but ridiculously creative community and we need your help to share this creativity with others. There are a lot of levels on which to contribute and some really fun rewards for your donation to this project. Seriously, any amount will help us reach our goal.

We have till November 18 at 5pm Pacific Time to raise $6,500. That amount covers the completion of recording, mixing, mastering and duplicating the album (it’s actually a shoe string budget for the level of quality we’re getting!). This is not something our community could fund if it was up to only us. But we don’t want to keep it to ourselves.  Give a little, get a lot, and let’s do this together.

Thank you + Thank God for you + Thanks be to God!


ryan, tara, and church of the beloved

Mary [modern remix]

Mary (the modern remix)

by Todd Johnson

No vacancy -blinks- neon  
(no room, no room) 
no reservations, no room,  
even for pregnant girls 
great with child, from out of town. 
Sweet Joe rushes about  
cursing the Census Bureau 
and its old abacus methods of counting. 
Best Western, Hotel 6, Holiday Inn 
all full to overflowing, no coat  
closets, laundry rooms or cubby holes  
to crawl into tonight. 
We explore the unseen  
boundaries of plight. 
My stomach is a sphere,  
a growing world 
about to hatch  
into a pained universe 
eclipsed in Orion’s shadow.

The pickup slouches  
into the dust it collected, 
the tires groan  
like beaten hoofs 
into the earth. 
Sitting mimics standing  
in discomfort, I squirm 
wondering if the next rejection 
offers a bathroom at least. 
A good man is hard to find, 
much less, a righteous concierge 
or night audit clerk. 
Options shrivel and shrink as city  
blocks blur beneath us.  
Sidewalk mirages take shape 
in mattress, pillow, sheet,  
but fade upon inspection, 
cans and cardboard, lotto tickets.

Pain and labor, labor in pain 
a lone bulb illuminates  
the concrete slabs  
of our Self-Storage unit, 
a humble accommodation. 
Embarrassment, the midwife,  
ushers in this little king 
of boxes and furniture,  
the miscellaneous 
items of displacement, like us.

With each push I cry out,  
my voice an echoing  
chorus on aluminum siding. 
my stubbled Love, he sweats  
in darkness no longer fearful  
of angels, gods, or HMO’s, 
but quivers still  
at the hour of arrival.

In the baby squawls,  
we look for miracles 
and jump at nondescript whispers.  
Cherubim or seraphims 
should nanny him now 
in rush of wing, flutter of eye, 
I think they’ll wink it all away 
but feel their holy hold,  
as nothing divine pauses  
with comments or courtesy 
as we grasp the battered diaper bags 
of doubt, tuck it in close  
to chest and stroke 
like the wounded pedigree  
of teen surrogates from Yakima.

My breath is caught up 
like plastic shrapnel 
hovering in the wind 
as the curious arrive 
from 7-11, Circle K, Dunkin Donuts 
the shepherds of sweets, 
coffee pots, and gasoline 
–nomads of night. 
Their eyes elliptic ask questions  
a mouth can’t scrawl, 
they believed enough to come,  
but question the fragile  
truth cradled on a newspaper 
bin of wicker, wrapped in sweatshirts.

What next? I ponder, floating  
safe in a warm embryo of solitude. 
Scientologists from the East 
bearing Tom Cruise autographs 
and crates of fruitcake? 
Maybe we’ll just go, Joe,  
hop a train 
down to Frisco, share a story  
and spare change with hobos. 
Maybe we’ll take the boy 
and run, fleeing like Hermes 
winged, from politicians 
dieting on their own rhetoric 
ready to brand us Unfit parents. 
Maybe we’ll find a way 
to make everything work 
to raise a son 
and pave a better road 
pot-hole free 
for a chosen one to trod on.

But as I see his tiny hand 
outstretched (and flailing) 
visions unfurl like confetti 
the dream unwinds as 
hammers fall with each flake 
of colored paper 
I am pierced again and again 
through and through 
as metal parts flesh 
(oh, favored one) 
and I am named 
in that moment, 
like his tender voice, 
not yet heard, 
calling out 
now and forever 
crying, “Mother.”

Easter EVENING Service SUN 5pm

Okay, so you didn’t get up at sunrise this morning.  Actually, you slept until noon.  So did we.

Have no fear.  There is still one Easter Service left in western Washington… 5pm at Church of the Beloved (1212 9th Ave Edmonds 98020) followed by a breakfast feast (remember, you missed breakfast) at Rosewood Manor (8104 220th st. SW Edmonds 98026) following the service.

Here’s what you have to look forward to – Jesus rising from the dead and reconciling all of creation.  Not bad, what else?  The rest is just icing, but we got Dr. Dwight Friesen from Mars Hill Graduate School preaching, a new commissioned song by Zadok Wartes, champagne Eucharist, piles and piles of french toast, and some games for the kiddos.  This is an Easter Feaster you don’t want to miss.

Good Friday – 7pm – Service of Shadows

FRI APR 10  7pm

“Tonight is the dark night of the soul.  Will the sun rise tomorrow?  We do not know for sure, but it looks as if everything is over.  So we take Jesus down from the cross.  And we strip the altar bare.  And here is the only benediction that Jesus leaves us with tonight… ‘Woman, here is your son.  And here is your mother.’ We are each other’s only consolation in this dark night.  So leave together tonight.  Leave together, wondering what Christ meant by, ‘It is finished.’  Leave together, like the disciples, in haste and in silence.”

– From the Service of Shadows

Event: Salvation on the Small Screen?

JAN 18th  +  7pm  +  Rosewood Manor 8104 220th st sw Edmonds

Church of the Beloved Presents : Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber will be giving some hilarious readings from her new book Salvation on the Small Screen? that chronicles her experiment of watching 24 consecutive hours of cable televangelism-prosperity gospel fare on Trinity Broadcasting Network.  28 contributors, including Bible Scholars from Iliff School of Theology, a gay Unitarian, her non-religious ex-boyfriend, a couple Jews, her Evangelical parents, Lutheran pastors and her 9 year old daughter all joined Nadia for an hour each so that the book becomes a conversation between what’s happening on the TV, what’s happening on the sofa, and what’s happing in the writer’s head.  The result is a narrative which is frequently hysterical, often insightful and occasionally totally surprising.

“Turn off your TV and read this book. It’s enlightening and entertaining and
it doesn’t emit any radiation whatsoever.”
–AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

Music by Tara Ward.  Wine and Cheese reception.  This event is free for you.