“Bloom with Repose: The Spirit Gives Life” by Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian

August 19th,2021 Categories: Weekly Letter

Good Afternoon Beloved,

I’ve been resting in the peace of wild things this week following our Bloom in Conversation event Monday evening. The fellowship and spiritual depths shared there were beautiful, and I was reminded once more how distinctly grateful I am for this community. I look forward to the time spent together over this next year, beginning with this Sunday.

Our scripture for this week comes to us from the Book of John. John’s gospel gives us the most theology of all the gospels and contains a few stories of Jesus which are unique to itself. This scripture occurs the day after Jesus has fed the 5,000 and walked on water. We begin with Jesus teaching publicly in the Synagogue of Capernaum after crossing the Sea of Galilee. Let us listen to this word of life from the Gospel of John:

56Everyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood 
lives in me, and I live in them.
57Just as the living Abba God sent me 
and I have life because of Abba God, 
so those who feed on me 
will have life because of me. 
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. 
It’s not the kind of bread your ancestors ate, 
for they died. 
whoever eats this kind of bread 
will live forever.” 
59 Jesus spoke these words while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
 60 Many of his disciples remarked, “We can’t put up with this kind of talk! How can anyone take it seriously?” 
61 Jesus was fully aware that the disciples were murmuring in protest at what he had said. “Is this a stumbling block for you?” he asked them. 
62 “What, then, if you were to see the Chosen One 
ascend to where the Chosen One came from? 
63 It is the spirit that gives life;
the flesh in itself is useless. 
The words I have spoken to you 
are spirit and life.
 64 Yet among you there are some 
who don’t believe.” 
Jesus knew from the start, of course, those who would refuse to believe and the one who would betray him. 65 He went on to say: 
“This is why I have told you 
that no one can come to me 
unless it is granted by Abba God.” 
66 From this time on, many of the disciples broke away and wouldn’t remain in the company of Jesus. 67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Are you going to leave me, too?” 
68 Simon Peter answered, “Rabbi, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe; we’re convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

[John 6: 56-69 (ILB)/ Juan 6:56-69 (NVI)]

Jesus says, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh in itself is useless. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The words of eternal life are here. We have come to believe them.

This scripture is profound in the ways it informs our practice of communion, in the bold statements Jesus makes about himself, and in the decisions of some students to leave because Jesus’ teachings seemed absurd. I have found myself resting in Jesus’ proclamation: it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh in itself is useless.

As a dancer, I have learned to love my body, this fleshy meat sack that I call home. It was not always this way. For years, my relationship to my body was tumultuous as I struggled to reconcile my use of my body as a tool and the statements of some of my teachers that my body was too large for me to ever be a real dancer. At long last, I achieved a kind of body neutrality with an acceptance of my body as it was that blossomed into a love as I grew to appreciate my body for the things it can do. I love my body, my flesh, yet here Jesus tells us that it is useless.

My body is useless without the spirit in me – the spirit that propels me to jump for joy and twirl with delight, the spirit that holds my gladness when I giggle and comforts me when I cry, the spirit which Jesus carried as he spoke these words. What my body looks like and what abilities it has do not matter because God does not judge me by my fleshiness but by the spirit’s work in me.

I do not need to love my body, because God loves me, and God’s spirit is alive in me. We are embodied people who must attend to our bodies because they are where life is housed, but they are not the sustainer; God is. Through the Spirit, God gives each breath, and through God’s word, God teaches us the way to eternal life.

Thank God we are here – for where else would we go?

Yours by God’s Grace,

Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian