The Bread of Heaven / by Andrew Fairfield

Dear friends,

For those of us who have lived with overwhelming plenty for most of our lives, it can be easy to forget that for most people food is life. When we are used to thinking of calories as a bad thing, I think we struggle a bit to see the importance of Jesus feeding the multitudes (and Elisha doing something similar in a story from the book of Kings, also in this week’s readings.)

These miracles aren’t just about convenience, or avoiding embarrassment, or providing comfort for the people. They are so much more; they are signposts saying “Look here! Here is God’s kingdom! This is what it looks like, it looks like life itself freely poured out for all.”

Because most people throughout most of history understood that food equals life at a very basic level. And so it’s very interesting to note that in both of these stories the miraculous food of heaven doesn’t just fall down from, well, heaven-- in both stories the food starts out as a gift, given by an anonymous figure who knows it won’t be enough but who lays it all out there anyway. That is the root of heaven, my friends: food that is shared.

They say “you are what you eat.” I think that’s true in more ways than one-- yes, healthy food makes for healthier bodies, makes us big and strong. But I am also convinced that shared food makes us big and strong too, spiritually big, with a broader sense of self. Shared food is no less a signpost now than it was in the Bible, a wonder that both announces and creates the Kingdom of Heaven. When we find ways to share our food broadly, when we eat with neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies, I believe we will witness miracles.

God’s generosity and life-giving grace be with you all,

Andrew