I have a good friend who is a pastor in a local congregation. She came to the ministry late in life, and so had many years to develop friendships as a lay person. Once ordained, she was surprised when she encountered those friends again, and they were shocked and tickled that she had become a pastor. They knew her when she was just a child, a teen, a young adult, and she was, let's say, a little wild. Now in middle age, she left that lifestyle behind to follow a more purposeful calling. But those old friends could never really see her in the roll of pastor because they "knew her when."
The funny thing is that people change. But it's hard, sometimes, for others to acknowledge and accept the change. For some reason we want to believe that people don't change much. Maybe it's because it's scary when someone we have counted on to be a particular way is suddenly no longer reliable in that way. It throws us off our game. So we pretend they are the same, resisting acknowledging that they are a new person with new interests, values, and behaviors. Maybe we just don't like the change because it shines a spotlight on the things about ourselves that we know we ought to change but don't.
If Jesus can become someone his old friends and family hardly recognize, then we can, too. We can change the things about ourselves that will haunt us when our old friends remind us of who we used to be. We can become the person God has created us to be. But only when we work at it. When we accept the changes within ourselves. When we accept the changes inside others. And when we can stand up and be genuinely, authentically ourselves, even when others refuse to see or accept it.
Narrative Lectionary Text: John 6:41-51
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”