Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
Statement of Faith
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The Food of Friendship
If you are planning a trip across territory where you are not able to get food,
you make sure that you pack enough food for the trip. Otherwise, you just don't go on the trip. You know it would be a very foolish decision to undertake a journey, when you know you will not have the resources needed to finish it. You would end up dying of starvation before you reached your destination.
In our life journey we also need to be sustained. To survive on our journey,
to have the strength to go through the barren places of life, those places where we are alone because of divorce, or illness, or death or sinfulness, we need to eat the food that God has prepared for us. God gives us food in the sacred stories of the Scriptures. We are told that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. And in the Gospel, Jesus presents his very self as food for the journey of life. How is this so? How does Jesus provide us with the nourishment we need as we go through life?
He tells us that he is the bread of life and that whoever eats of this bread
will live forever. Here we are given the great gift of the Eucharist. Jesus
truly and really comes to us as food in Holy Communion. This is a gift beyond our wildest imaginings, and one that we are encouraged to receive every time we come to receive Communion.
But besides being a great gift, receiving the Eucharist is a sign of our
commitment to Christ. It is a sign that through our whole lives we will nourish the friendship with Christ that is such a large part of what it means for Jesus to be the bread of life. Jesus is the bread of life for us through the gift of his friendship to us.
How is a friend "food" for us? What are the qualities of friendship that sustain us? A real friend is one who knows how to encourage us. If we are down, he or she doesn't take that opportunity to tell us how stupid or foolish we have been. They don't spend their time telling us how we could have done things differently. No, they remind us of our goodness. They point out that even if we were responsible for getting ourselves into trouble, there's always tomorrow. We can start over again. We can do better. This kind of friend doesn't leave us in our misery. They stand by us and help us through the difficult times. So does our friendship with Christ feed, sustain, and nourish us on our own journey.
If we truly have Jesus as our friend, then we will allow him to be present to us
in all of the ways that friends are present to one another. This means that we
will bring our whole lives to Jesus. We will share ourselves with him the way we share ourselves with no other person.
Just as friendships need to be nourished by conversation lest they die, so do we need to converse with Christ. It is in our prayer that we talk with Jesus. It is in our prayer that we reveal ourselves to him. Prayer is an absolute necessity as a way to a deeper friendship with Christ. A conscious revealing of self to Christ is necessary. Just saying that Christ knows us is not enough. There must be a willingness to place ourselves before Christ in all of our beauty and ugliness. When we do this, we make ourselves available to Jesus, and we allow him to be available to us.
As we go through life, our diet changes. As babies we need a certain kind of
food. If you tried to feed steak to a three month old, you would be in serious
trouble--so would the baby. As the child grows, his or her needs change,
depending on what the body needs at that time. If you are doing certain kinds of work such as physical labour all day, your need for nourishment is different from the person who sits at a desk from nine to five. And then when we move into our senior years, our needs change again. It's important to eat the right kinds and amounts of food according to where we are in life.
When it comes to the nourishment we need from the Lord, our needs change as our life changes. We would make a mistake if we just concentrated on only one aspect of our friendship with Jesus. At times we need the gentle and kind Jesus. At other times we may need the friendship of the Jesus who was outraged when he saw the poor being neglected by those in positions of power. And at still other times, we need the friendship of the suffering Christ. There are many different aspects to the person of Jesus. If we only see a partial aspect of our Lord, we will be missing the support we need as we go through the many different phases of our lives.