Taste & See - Bread
This week our Sacred Story comes from 1 Kings 17 and Luke 24 . It tells us about the prophet Elijah’s visit to a widowed women who was running out of food during a drought, and about the disciples first encounter with the resurrected Jesus over the breaking of the bread.
The sermon this week came from Vicar Morgan Gates.
The connection between food and relationships has been acknowledged and studied since just about the beginning of time. There’s just something about sharing food with one another that brings us closer than we were before, and here at +KINDRED, I think we understand that. Today’s sacred stories are examples of how the connection between relationships and food is seen and brings people into closer community - and communion - with each other and the divine.
When most people hear the story about Elijah and the widow they think it’s a miracle story, along the lines of the feeding of the 5,000. And they’re not really wrong to do so, I suppose. This story is miraculous because the land that the widowed woman lived in was experiencing a severe drought. Earlier in the chapter Elijah went to the King of that area, Ahab, and said: “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Rivers have dried up, livestock are dying without grass to eat, and people are starving with no meat or crops from the drought ravaged fields to eat.
This drought was affecting everyone, but was even harder on those who live on the margins. Those who don’t have resources stocked up and saved to sustain them during times of drought or poor harvests. That would likely mean anyone who wasn’t king Ahab or a part of the richer aristocracy. The widowed woman who fed Elijah was certainly living in the margins in those days because she had no male family member to offer her housing or any sort of social security. She was cast out the edges of her town, and left to fend for herself.
And so it IS miraculous and amazing that the widowed woman’s oil and meal did not run out while Elijah was there and for many days afterward. I can imagine how relieved the widowed woman was that she and her son continued to have enough food to sustain them, and even a guest, when she had all but resigned herself to death by starvation.
I wonder how she felt each day when she woke up to find oil and meal enough for breakfast, and maybe a mid-day meal. I wonder how she and her household felt when they realized that the cakes made from that same oil and meal were enough to keep their stomachs full. I can imagine them sitting together and eating on the second or third day of Elijah’s visit, perhaps wondeirng aloud about when the drought would end, or if king Ahab would do anything to help his people who were suffering from the drought. I can imagine them creating a community amongst themselves over portions of bread just enough to sustain them.
Further on in this story we read that God tells Elijah to go back and see king Ahab. God leads and instructs Elijah on what to do and say to king Ahab, and eventually Ahab is removed as king and the drought ends with a terrific rain storm. It seems to me that Elijah could have just continued past the widowed woman’s town and directly to king Ahab to speed up this drought ending process. And so I wonder, why didn’t he? What was the point of this interaction with the widow?
I think this interaction between Elijah and the widow demonstrates community’s power to sustain us even when we are literally down to our last pieces of bread. That we can trust God to sustain us when it seems that everything else has been removed out from under us. We can trust God to provide for us, even though I’m not sure it will always show-up in a never ending supply of a couple food items, I think we can trust that God will always sustain us in community with one another. I think that we can trust God to sustain us for the night...and through the next day, relying on the community we find ourselves in.
In our other sacred story for today we heard about the disciples who were walking to a village called Emmaus - WITH THE RESURRECTED JESUS - but it wasn’t until they’d sat down to eat together that they realized they were in the presence of the divine. And so again, we’re left wondering about the connection of food and relationships and the way that community is cultivated in those spaces despite - or maybe in response to - situations and factors that seem like impossible barriers. The widowed woman didn’t have to share her meager food supplies, but she did so leaning into this opportunity for unlinkley community and trusting in God’s faithfulness to provide. The disciples, burdened with grief and anxiety about what the future would hold, created community with an assumed stranger to have the face of their Lord, Jesus Christ, revealed to them in the same way in which they last shared a meal with him - over the blessing and breaking of the bread.
Food brings us together into community in even the most challenging of situations and allows us a moment of sustaining togetherness as we prepare for the journies ahead of us. It is a gift to share food in community with one another, and glimpse into the heavenly banquet yet to come. Amen.