When We Are Spiritually Hangry

Bruce and I had a wonderful “stay-cation” this week and I stepped back into the pulpit to preach this morning.  We also put together a last minute ensemble to sing “Light Of The World” from Godspell, which was so. much. fun.  I love the summer because things are a little less hectic on a Sunday morning and I can participate in so much more of the music!

Here is this morning’s sermon … my apologies to anyone who is hungry after they read it. :)

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Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
August 9, 2015

John 6:35, 41-51

When We Are Spiritually Hangry

When Bruce and I moved to Atlanta, my mom took Bruce aside and said, “Bruce there is one thing that you need to know about living with Sarah.”

Without missing a beat, Bruce looked at her and said, “Feed her when she’s hungry.”

Looking slightly relieved, my mom gave Bruce a hug and said, “You two are going to be just fine.”

Apparently I have a bit of a reputation. WHATEVER. I won’t lie; when I get really hungry, I tend to get a little bit punchy. And there may be a slight chance my mom is just traumatized from this time we were at a conference together and she was trying to get me to do some post-conference sightseeing before dinner and I was on the verge of tears saying over and over again, “I JUST WANT A CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD!”

Okay, but seriously – who can blame me, really? When I am hungry, dehydrated, lacking protein and my blood sugar is out of whack, how am I supposed to be a pleasant person?

It’s a mystery.

Here is the deal, though: I am not the only one that gets like this! There is even a word that describes people like us. “Hangry” – an amalgam of “hungry” and “angry” – is an adjective used to describe this feeling of overwhelming hunger, frustration, anger, irritability and emotion.

(According to Urban Dictionary, that is.)

I am sure that most of you have experienced this on some level at one point or another in your lives. Do you know the feeling that I am talking about? Where you are hungry, but are too cranky to do anything about it; where someone is offering to cook you something or take you somewhere to eat but you cannot decide what you want or where you want to go; where you know you are whining but just cannot stop; where something that you normally find endearing or adorable is infuriating; and where you almost need to put yourself in timeout until you eat, drink, rest and let your body balance itself out again.

Okay, this is starting to sound like a pharmaceutical commercial.

Food is obviously an important part of our lives. In addition to the mere deliciousness of flavors and different styles of cuisine, food is essential to our survival as human beings. We need food to nourish our bodies; very often how we exist in bodily form is directly correlated to the food that we put into our bodies.

(So you see why I needed that Chicken Caesar Salad.)

With food being so crucial to our existence as human beings, I do not think that it is coincidence that there are so many stories and metaphors about food in the Gospels. And so I was thinking about what it feels like to be “hangry” as I read the scripture for this week.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” [1]

I think the use of bread was intentional here. Think about it; Jesus did not say, “I am the perfectly balanced garden salad of life.” He said, “I am the bread of life”; I am the nourishing and filling and comforting and warm and soft and garlic-oil-dipped and mouth-watering bread of life.

When Bruce and I lived in Atlanta, we worked with the Youth Group at our church. One weekend they participated in a 30 Hour Famine and we broke the famine on Saturday morning with communion. We were all so hungry by the time we broke our fast that once we all took communion (we had gathered in a circle and served one another by intinction), we continued to pass the loaf of bread around the circle until every last piece of bread had been eaten.

In that moment of hunger, that bread was exactly what we needed.

And I think in those moments of spiritual hunger that we all experience in our lives, the bread of life is exactly what we need as well.

Have you ever been “spiritually hangry” in your life?

  • When you need God in your life, but are too far away from your spiritual center to do anything about it or to figure out how to get back.
  • When you want to go to church, but just cannot seem to get yourself there.
  • When you feel a little bit off – personally, professionally, financially and in your relationships – and you cannot get yourself back on track.
  • When you know that you are on the verge of a meltdown and have lost sight of the bigger picture, but cannot reign yourself back in.
  • When you feel like you need to pray, but cannot quiet your mind long enough to do it.
  • When the stressors and anxieties of your day-to-day life have gotten louder than the voice of God assuring you of grace, love and redemption.
  • When you need a one-hour Sunday morning timeout so that your body, mind and soul can balance itself out again.

“Spiritually hangry” may not be the most theological of terms, but I think I might be on to something here. Because this is something that we all experience throughout our lives. We all experience those moments where we are so far past the point of being spiritually hungry that we are a little bit punchy, slightly lethargic and just do not know what end is up.

But Jesus said:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. [2]

Living bread; this means that the nourishment and the healing and the wisdom and the love that Jesus offered during his earthly life is still alive and at work today. This living bread continues to nourish us in our moments of spiritual hunger. This living bread gives healing to our pain, love to our hatred, wisdom to our confusion and strength to our weakness.

The Gospel is more than a collection of stories about Jesus’ life and the Good News that brings light into the darkness of our world; the Gospel is a promise of living nourishment in our lives: Living nourishment that is filling and comforting and warm and soft and garlic-oil-dipped and mouth-watering. Living nourishment that gives us exactly what we need when we need it.

I know that every single one of you here today (or reading this later on my blog) is struggling with something in your life. And do you know how I know this? Because you would not be human if you were not! We live in an imperfect world and we all have real struggles, we all make mistakes and we all face scary challenges. And there are moments in our lives where we are broken and empty and weak and need that living bread to come from heaven to nourish us, to fill us up and to make us whole. There are moments in our lives when we are “spiritually hangry” and we need to stop and eat.

And this is where my pharmaceutical commercial is going to turn into a PSA for exploring your faith, attending worship and being part of a church community.

Because in the same way that you will be “hangry” until you eat something, you will be “spiritually hangry” until you feast on that living bread of life.

This is why it is so important for us all to be part of this church. We need to (all of us – myself included!) come to worship, be part of the church community, ask questions, wrestle with scripture, support one another on our journeys, pray for and with one another, be humbled by one another, love unconditionally and live out our faith in our day-to-day lives. We need to be reminded of the promise of God’s love and grace through our laughter and tears. We need to see God’s light shining in our children, in our friendships, in our music, in our activities and in our service to others. We need a place where we are allowed to be the most broken version of ourselves.

We need to let God quench our spiritual hanger so that our bodies, our minds and our souls can be nourished in way that is divine and grace-filled.

Feast on the living bread of life, my friends. Be filled. Be strengthened. Be loved. Be made whole.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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[1] John 6:35, NRSV
[2] John 6:51, NRSV

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