July 29th, 2018, Rev. Dr. Bettina B. Kilburn preaching: John 6:1-21, “A New Exodus?”
We can name the characters – the anxiety-ridden disciples, the generous little boy, the five thousand gathered on the mountain, and our Lord, who pulls it off. We know that Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the abundant food. Many of us can recite Jesus’ words to the disciples as he calms the stormy seas – “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus feeds the multitude in all four Gospels. He walks on water in Mark’s and Matthew’s narratives. We’ve heard these stories – and many other miracle stories in the Bible – many, many times on our own faith journeys.
The writer of John’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ dramatic acts not in terms of God’s power or God’s miracles – but as signs. As they did for the Johannine community, struggling with their own faith identity, the signs move us away from our own assumptions and certitude. Today’s reading echoes the Passover narrative of the manna and the crossing of the Red Sea, and invites us to consider what a new exodus in Jesus Christ means for our own faith challenges. What signs do we see – in our own lives and as a community? What does it mean for us to proclaim in our time “This is indeed the prophet who has come into the world”?
The Rev. Dr. Bettina B. Kilburn is a graduate of CTS (2001) after feeling a call to ordained ministry as a way of ordering and deepening medicine as her vocation. She is still a full-time practicing psychiatrist/medical director/medical ethicist, ordained by Presbytery of Greater Atlanta to Specialized Ministry in Medical Ethics in 2003. She has served on the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry, including as vice chair, and served as a director on the Board of Pensions 2008-2016. She and her husband Norm (married 36 years) have worshipped with the NDPC community since 2007. She says, “It is a joy to be part of the rich and varied group of clergy affiliates at NDPC, and I’m honored to help the sabbatical pulpit team.”