12th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15/Lectionary 20)
Proverbs 9: 21-6
John 6: 51-58

A 10 year old boy, whom we shall randomly name, Matthew, hollers from the family room, “Hey Dad!  What’s for dinner?” 

“Soup and buns!”, replies Dad.
“Soup and buns!”
“What kind of soup?”
“I made a soup out of all the leftovers in the fridge!  It’s going to be great!”
“Dad, can we eat out?”

Sometimes, it seems, the meal that is offered at home is LESS than a big deal.  The kids inquire about the meal, learn what it is and they visibly slump. 

Sometimes the meal that is offered doesn’t seem too appetizing and yet, when you combine the quality of a good home-cooked meal, prepared with love, gathered around a table, it can be a very life-giving meal. 

The human being hollers up to heaven, 

“Hey God, what you got for dinner today?”
God replies, “A good, hot, heaping plate.... of wisdom!”            

(SLUMP) “What?”
“What kind of wisdom?”
“MY wisdom!”
“God, can we eat out?”

What kind of meal is that?  Wisdom?  Yuck.  Doesn’t seem like much of a meal at all.

In today’s Old Testament lesson, from Proverbs, God serves up a meal.  The meal is prepared by a woman, whose name is Wisdom.  Wisdom has prepared meat, bread and wine on the table and she has then flung open the doors to her home and invited everyone.  She has invited the simple, the immature, those without any sense, to come and dine.  Come to the table and dine. Have some wisdom!

I am sure that in some cultures, there very fact that there might be food on the table would be enough to heed the invitation and come and dine.  But throughout the ages, even in biblical times, people didn’t always come right away.  Before they would come to the table and dine, they wanted to know what the other choices of the day might be.

Is there anything else to dine on, other than the special of the day?

“What’s that?  All you have is wisdom?”
“Well,” says God, “there is another choice.  You can have a plate of folly.”

And there you have it.  In the book of Proverbs, there are two meals on the menu: wisdom and folly and we are invited to choose.  In fact, in the first 9 chapters of the book of Proverbs, the writer, whom we assume is King Solomon, urges people to choose wisdom. 

If you think you know what the book of Proverbs is all about, you had better take another look.  Most of us think that the book of Proverbs is a collection of sayings, one-liners if you will.  Here are some that maybe are familiar:

Pr. 10: 8,

The wise of heart will heed commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

11: 2,

When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble.

15: 1

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

THOSE are the Proverbs, right?  Of course they are, but there is so much more.  Before you get to the sayings, to the one-liners, Solomon sets it up.   Throughout those first 9 chapters, Solomon talks about wisdom and folly.  He compares the two, extols the virtues of wisdom and condemns the characteristics of folly. 

Of wisdom, Solomon says,

for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding.”

Solomon urges the reader to choose wisdom, because it is obvious to him, that wisdom gives life.  On the other hand, there is folly, foolishness.  Solomon compares foolishness to robbers, vandals and thugs.  He talks about people who go out and beat others, kill and vandalize; how senseless all of that is.  Such activity is foolish and not only that, it destroys. 

Solomon talks about relationships, how people seduce each other in a variety of ways. The destruction is far reaching; such behaviour, says Solomon, is foolish and it destroys. 

So that, according to Solomon, is what is on the menu: wisdom and folly.  Which meal will you choose?  The meal which at first glance, appears humble?  Or maybe the meal which carries some allure and excitement? 

Solomon continually urges people to choose wisdom.  Wisdom is the satisfying meal, satisfying because it is life-giving

Life-giving, because it is from God

King Solomon writes:  

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;  God stores up sound wisdom for the upright.”

For Solomon, God is grace, forgiving.  God is inviting.  God wishes to give the human being life.  To have rich, abundant life, to have life eternal, it must be lived in God.  God provides the richest meal of all and no matter who we are, no matter what we have done in the past, God continues to invite us to take part in this life-giving meal: Wisdom. 

It doesn’t seem like a big meal deal, but it is a very life-giving meal.             

“Hey Jesus, what’s for dinner?”

(Grumble, grumble)  “Bread, that’s it?”
“Not just bread,” replies Jesus, “but living bread from heaven.”

The people who followed and listened to Jesus, were looking to be fed.  They were looking for a good meal.  Let’s see, how about a nice buffet: a smorgasbord of freedom from Roman oppression, temple worship that was missing the point, a chance to live in a free nation that can do anything it wants, exciting food that doesn’t always have to follow the ways of God.

That sounds like a nice spread. 

On the other hand, Jesus is offering bread.  (Slump) Bread?  Boring!  How lame! 

The people who are following Jesus are not impressed and they begin to grumble.  Bread seems very pedestrian, in fact is seems as if that was all that God ever offered them.  The stories of the people of Israel, were chock full of bread, meals of bread.  Did God ever offer their ancestors anything other than bread?  Manna?

Jesus offers them bread, but the bread that he offers is different.  It is living bread from heaven, it is his flesh; it is his sacrifice on the cross.  His death will bring about life and with that they will be fed.  They will have a rich abundant life in the future because death has been conquered and the promise of eternal life has been given.  They will have a rich and abundant life in the today, because the sacrifice of Jesus will have given the promise of forgiveness of sins.  They can live well, now.

Bread.  It didn’t seem like a big meal deal, but it was.  It was indeed.

“Hey Pastor, what’s there to eat today?”
“Holy Communion,” replies the Pastor.
“Yes, again.” 
“Bread and wine?”
“Could you maybe spice that up with.... Twinkies?”
“No, it will be bread and wine.”

Today, just like any other Sunday, we dine on a simple meal of bread and wine.   It is a simple meal of course, but it is VERY life-giving. 

We gather in community, eat at the table together in a very unique fellowship. 

It is the meal that Jesus prepared for us; it is the meal to which Jesus INVITES us.

We eat, God through Jesus, within us.   We eat and hear that the gift of FORGIVENESS and ETERNAL LIFE, are given to us; we are nourished with those gifts.  

Fed and nourished, we can carry on in life, strengthened with hope and courage.   Sometimes it may not seem like a big meal deal, but it is somehow life-giving, basic and reminds us of what we really need and what is really important. 

Sure there are meals that are sumptuous and exciting; rich in quantity and quality.   But there is something wonderful about that simple fare.

So, says Solomon, is wisdom.  So, says Jesus, is the living bread from heaven. 

Wisdom, from God, eternal life from Jesus.  Very big meals indeed.