When my children were smaller, we would visit The Science Museum in London, a place that I too had visited as a child. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed these excursions every bit as much as they did. This museum offers a rich mixture of interactive exhibits for visitors to explore with their senses of touch, smell, hearing, sight, and even on occasion taste.
After being able to involve the senses in learning, visitors to the museum left with knowledge, memories, and joy. Learning was a delight, one punctuated by peals of laughter and giddy giggles, rapt expressions of awe and wonder, and smiles and nods of understanding. To see children’s (and adults’) minds so engaged in the learning process was worth every hour spent on the train.
Revisiting the same exhibits several times always felt fresh and new, thanks to the unique nature of shared experience and sensory encounter. I miss those days, but I have not left them behind entirely. I still ride carousels and play in fountains, gasp at fireworks and swing as high as I can go. I refuse to hang out on the side-lines of life when there is so much to taste, see, and experience.
The lessons this week make me wonder why we so often relegate faith to life’s side-lines, treating it like a visit to a stuffy antique store or art museum rather than a multi-sensory life experience.
How often do we come to communion, receive the bread, and taste Jesus with childlike wonder? Do you smell the wine as well as taste it? Do you find yourself drawn to image and light and pattern? What would you think if I invited you to dip both hands in the baptismal font and splash your face to remember your baptism? Do you mouth the words of the hymns for fear of sounding off-key, or do you sing with the gusto and abandon of a five-year-old?
This week’s lessons really struck me as visual, auditory, tactile, and participatory. Elijah eats and drinks to gain amazing strength for his journey. The psalmist tells us to taste and see that God is good. In the epistle to the believers at Ephesus, Paul urges them to be imitators of God–childlike and loving–practicing the marks of discipleship as modelled by Christ himself. In John’s gospel we learn that Jesus is the bread of life, and when we consume the bread and wine at communion, we share in Christ’s gift of grace that will continue into eternity.
This is heady stuff, not stuffy facts. We are part of something truly amazing, a carousel ride that is out of this world, an interactive fountain of baptismal grace, and a hope that will not cease. Discipleship should be fun as well as challenging. We have good news to tell and share that is wilder, woollier, and more wonderful than any museum experience. Yep, it’s the real deal for real life for all eternity. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. This Sunday–and every day of the week–let us taste and see that God is good.
Rev Nik Wooller
8th Aug 2021