Taosim Tao De Ching 8
The highest good is like water.
Water give life to ten thousand thins
And does not strive.
It flows in places people reject,
And so is like the Tao.
In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others,
Be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In actions, study the timing.
There is no good in wrangling or fighting.
Exodus 16:4-8 (CEB)
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they measure out what they have collected, it will be twice as much as they collected on other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 7 And in the morning you will see the Lord’s glorious presence, because your complaints against the Lord have been heard. Who are we? Why blame us?” 8 Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning because the Lord heard the complaints you made against him. Who are we? Your complaints aren’t against us but against the Lord.”
Message – “Bread From Heaven”
Let us pray. Gracious and loving God, we praise you for this beautiful day. For the wonderful weather and the opportunity to come together as a community of faith. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all are hearts remember your love and grace. Amen.
I don’t know if others have ever experienced this. It is midafternoon after a long day at work. You’ve been working hard all day, so much that you worked through lunch not even taking a break. As 2 p.m. rolls around, you find yourself feeling irritable, agitated, and any slight movement from a co-worker, or in this case someone on a Zoom call will be enough to set you off.
You are HANGRY. Hungry and Angry. The stress of not having something to eat over the lunch hour has suddenly turned you into a person searching for any form of food and will find anything to get the food. Can anyone relate? Or is it just me and my constant need to keep snacks in my bag and pockets at all time?
But there is something so important about food, it is something which we need to survive. It is our life source. As the Israelites found, while they were wandering in the desert, they got hungry. Imagine having a bunch of hangry people, who are also hot and tired after following Moses out into this “promise land”. Yet for many of them it was looking less like a land of “milk and honey” and more like a disappointing sandwich made of sand. And rightfully so, Moses has these people wandering around for so long, they are looking for anything to eat.
That is when God then speaks to Moses and tells him, “bread will rain down from the sky for you.” And that the Israelites can go out and gather the food. Raining down bread? I can only imagine in a time of desperation, in a time when all hope is lost, in when anything, especially bread, would sound very pleasing. Right now, I might wish it would rain down some Oreos or Twizzlers. However, what God showed in that moment, in that decision to bring about bread was that God wanted the Israelites to survive. God was showing that the basic need of food was so important for the livelihood of the people. It was not just about filling the spiritual needs of the people, but also filling the physical needs. God saw the need of food and by having those basic human needs met it was bringing about life for the people.
I’m always amazing of how many stories there are in the Bible that talk about food. You have all the Levitical codes is Leviticus and other Hebrew scriptures, talking about what foods can and cannot be eaten. (Mostly those were used to try and keep people safe) Even Jesus’ parables often referenced food, from the mustard seed, to the story of the wedding at Cana, to the feeding of the five thousand, to the most sacred of acts: the Passover Meal in which Jesus broke bread with his disciples.
After Jesus is raised from the dead, he visits the disciples. He is on the shoreline on the sea of Galilee preparing a meal. The disciples are out at sea, and as they approach the shore to see the fire, the disciples do not recognize it is Jesus. They sit with him for a while unaware this is their Rabbi, their teacher, the one in which they put their faith. However, when Jesus breaks bread. When he takes the bread and blesses it, and breaks it and shares it with them, it is in this moment the disciples realize the this is the risen Messiah! It is the leader who came to bring good news to the poor and to set the captives free. The resurrected Jesus shows there is life even after death.
When Jesus and the disciples partake in communion there are four things Jesus does. He TAKES the bread. He BLESSES it. He BREAKS it. And he SHARES it. For it is not about keeping it all for himself, it is about giving it to the people, those around him. It is a communal act.
Even in our lives we see how eating is communal. All major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter often revolve around food. There is a coming together with the food we share. The dishes we bring. And of course, us Methodists love sharing in potlucks and are always first in line for food! Food is what unites us together.
And we today partake in that communal act, we joint together as we each take, bless, break, and share our bread. Might not be able to share from the same loaf of bread due to COVID-19 but we can share together in the same spirit the same communal sense of love and compassion.
What I find so timeless about communion and about our tradition of breaking bread, is that in this moment it becomes one where we each bring a piece of ourselves. The bread we use might be shaped by the culture we are raised in, the recipe that is passed down from generation to generation. Or it could just be based on whatever bread we could find at Baker’s. For instance, tonight my communion is a bag of Goldfish and a Bubly sparkling water.
But when we partake in this meal, we are then given the same call. To take, bless, break the bread and to share it with the rest of the world. This could come in the form of feeding those who do not have enough, providing what we have and sharing it with them. But also, it goes beyond the physical needs, into the spiritual, showing that this simple bread represents the grace of God. The loaves we share represent the need for grace and reconciliation in the world. What is broken God can make whole. And that we as people of God, work to create a family where all can gather around the table and share in this bread together. This bread of grace which says, you are loved no matter what. There are no exceptions, there are no rules to partake. There are no barriers which keep us from each other because we are sharing in meal of life. One which is meant to nourish each other, not to exclusionary.
In the Israelites time of need, God sent down manna from heaven. The bread rained down and they gathered it sharing in what they need. And so, we continue to gather in this time, this feast: Knowing that we share this bread and grace with those around us, always and forever. God. Give us our daily bread and let us share it with those around us. Let us feast together.