There are times when I use my smartphone or my laptop when I think, “I wish my dad were around to see this.” My dad liked stuff, and he enjoyed the ways in which technology made life better. I remember when he purchased a reel to reel tape recorder, and how happy it made him. He would have been in awe of some of the gadgets that are available now that only seemed like Star Trek or Jetsons science fiction when I was a child. He would have loved the idea of carrying his music library in his pocket or being able to get information about boat repair by touching a few buttons on a phone that he carried in his pocket that doubled as a mini computer…. What might have bothered him about how we operate now, is how disposable everything has become; we are always looking for the newer model, the best prices, the newest way to listen to or view our entertainment… We often move to take on the better job so that we are not living near family; our homes, our possessions and even our relationships have taken on this sense of being replaceable and disposable… and let’s not forget “Virtual” as opposed to real. For those of us who use facebook (and you know how much I love social media), how many of our facebook friends are actually friends as opposed to acquaintances? Some of this of course is out of our control; but it seems to me that we suffer some consequences as a result of the way that life swirls around us; children have a hard time learning the value of things that can be easily replaced; they become part of the rat race of branding and having the newest thing; more importantly we all suffer the problem of not having the time to make intimate and lasting friendships… we might even choose not to make friends because we know it’s only a matter of time before someone moves on to something else or someone else… And this past 18 months, and Lord only knows how many MORE Covid-19 affected months, has made our isolation and loneliness worse. Virtual meetings, virtual church… technology has helped us to stay connected the best way we can, but it’s not the same as being truly together. I can hope that we have all come to a new appreciation of having coffee with a friend, or worshipping together in the same place. In our gospel today people are walking away from Jesus and his teaching; it’s too difficult to hear and too hard to live into… he’s still going on about this whole “bread of life” business… eating bread, eating flesh, talking about himself and the Father… What is he getting at? He alludes once again to the ancestors in the wilderness who ate the manna, the bread that was given to them by God in the time of Moses. It was bread that filled their bellies temporarily; bread that did little to further their relationship with God… Seems like humanity’s desire for the quick fix has been around for a long time. None of us enjoys being uncomfortable; and it appears that we would do just about anything to save ourselves from being uncomfortable; that’s one reason why relationships can be so hard, and the closer the relationship the harder it gets… Relationships are hard because they can cause us to be vulnerable; when we are in relationships with others we have to get to know the parts of the other person and perhaps of ourselves that aren’t loveable; it’s never easy to look at ourselves through the eyes of another, whether they see us as good or bad… Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” Webster’s dictionary defines the word abide as “to wait for; to endure without yielding : to bear patiently, to tolerate, to accept without objection.” It’s interesting to think about that definition as we hear those words in the Gospel… as you may remember there is quite a bit of “abiding” that goes on in the gospel of John… Jesus is saying that he abides in those who eat of his flesh and blood… and that they abide in him. It has implications for us as followers of Jesus and as a community… First and foremost, Jesus is challenging the notion of being disposable; Jesus refuses to be disposable; and try as we might, we cannot shrug him off the way we shrug off so many people and things in our lives. He will not let us get rid of him as easily as we get rid of others in our lives… he endures without yielding, sometimes to the point of frustration… but he also bears patiently… he bears with us… in all of the ways that we are loveable, and especially, in all of the ways that we are not; it’s important for us to realize in a world of quick fixes and disposable possessions and relationships, that WE are not disposable to Jesus. When those around us might try to replace us, or culture passes us by, Jesus abides… he is with us, loving us, helping us to know that we have worth and importance in the kingdom. If Jesus abides in us and if we are not disposable to him… then no one is disposable. As kingdom people, we are to stand against the attitudes of the empire that says people are disposable. We must hold up kingdom values where all people everywhere are important, all people are worthy, all people are equal. The values of the kingdom have implications for our relationships with all of God’s people… it means that our relationships, no matter how brief, are not a means to some sort of self centered desire of ours; but that even those whom we encounter for the briefest of moments are important and worthy of our time and our respect. We are not to see others as the empire sees them, but as Jesus sees them… and it’s not always an easy task… and we also have to remember that Jesus also sees us differently than we see ourselves. Abiding in Jesus, and having him abide in us is both comforting and challenging; hopefully, it helps us to have a sense of worth in a world that sometimes places value on money and possessions rather than people; we are challenged to see others as being worthy of our love and our attention… We are challenged to love others as Jesus would, which of course for us, means that we love with our actions as well as with our words; we feed those who are hungry, we fight for justice for all God’s people, we find ways to heal the sick, we forgive those whom others cannot. It’s not just challenging to be in relationship the way Jesus is… it’s downright difficult… Yet that is what the love of God looks like… It’s the kind of love that abides in us because the Holy Spirit of Jesus has made its home in us… We abide in him… and he in us… no one, anywhere is disposable… as disciples of Jesus we endure… we love… who is Jesus challenging us to abide with today?