Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia
If you sang the above words to the tune from the LBW, Setting 2, you might be a church nerd like I am. Sometimes, I am surprised when a memory triggers and I am taken back to Pioneer Lake Lutheran Church in Conover, WI. I spent a lot of time in the church building in my formative years. I remember learning the liturgy in the LBW when the congregation gathered on a week night and we would listen to these tunes on a record player and then we would sing them back until they started to become familiar. I think I was in Seminary when I finally learned that the liturgy is scriptural. That each one of these pieces of the liturgy that we learned were quoted or paraphrased from scripture.
On Sunday, we will finish the 5 Sundays about bread from the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel. These words that have been used as a Gospel Acclamation over the years will be spoken by Peter. The teachings that Jesus gives throughout the chapter are not easy, for all who are following Jesus, to understand. This weeks Gospel reading picks up the last couple of verses from last Sunday’s reading. Jesus tells them, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me”—John 6:56-57
Some “disciples” turn away. They don’t want to stick around to see what might happen next. Jesus turns to the twelve and asks them if they plan to turn away as well. This is when Peter speaks for the twelve, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” These twelve have seen enough to believe that Jesus is the one to follow but not everyone sees it that way. We know that the twelve will see even greater things as this continues to unfold before them
When we have doubt or when we are faced with fear, we draw on what we know. It may be a piece of liturgy, it may be a favorite verse in scripture, or it may be the verses of a favorite hymn. Whatever sustains you is a gift from God. When we gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we eat of Christ’s body and we drink of his blood. For some this is still a hard teaching. But for those of us who know the story from beginning to end, know that this is one way we abide in Christ and he in us. This meal sustains us just like the familiar words that are printed in our memories
What words from scripture or a hymn come to mind for you when you need something comforting from which to draw?