Comfort Food

Bible Text: Genesis 32:22-31, Matthew 14:13-21, Psalm 17:1-7 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

Everyone of us has a comfort food. Growing up my favourite and staple was peanut-butter and honey, open faced. As I grew up my tastes became more refined and now my comfort food is, kraft dinner, with a side of beans. Not only is it easy to prepare but there is nostalgia associated with it. It is my soul food.
Now of course traditional Soul food comes from the American south. It is food that originated in Africa and was brought over during the slave trade. The slaves brought with them staples such as okra and rice and combined them with First Nations staples such as corn, or grits, black eyed peas and sweet potato. Soul food became a way of survival for many of those slaves working on plantations. Slaves were fed as cheaply as possible, often with the leftovers, even waste foods from the plantation. As a result many were forced to make do with the ingredients at hand. They developed recipes, delicious ones at that, which used lard, collards, cornmeal and discarded cuts of meat. Many supplemented their diet by growing pots of herbs for flavour and fishing or hunting. Quickly, food that became a necessity took on extraordinary flavours. In fact, it’s practically a miracle that soul food can make catfish and cornmeal taste as good as it does. Meagre ingredients from a dark time in American history has become something that master chefs try to emulate. Urban dictionary also describes soul food as food that is eaten for your soul to survive. Food isn’t just about feeding the physical needs of the body but about nourishing the soul.
In some ways using the term soul food or comfort food to describe what Jesus did is accurate. Jesus turned a meagre, basic, survival meal, into something that fed 5,000 people and in feeding the body he fed their souls. Jesus says to us all, come, sit, and eat with me and be transformed, see God in your midst, be comforted and nourish your soul.
One of the reasons why this story is so familiar is because it is one of the only miracles of Jesus that is found in all four Gospels. In fact our Gospel story this morning is one of many bread miracles that occurs throughout Scripture. Jesus’ miracle reflects stories like the one of the wandering in the wilderness, the Old Testament story of how manna fell from the sky. A lesser known but no less important story comes from 2 Kings when Elisha fed a hundred hungry men with twenty loaves. When his disciples protested that it wouldn’t be enough Elisha prayed and God provided. Everyone ate enough to be satisfied and there were leftovers. Jesus, of course, is called the bread of life, feeding our souls with good food. Even his birth place, Bethlehem has meaning. In Hebrew, Beth- means house, and Lehem- means bread. Jesus was born in the house of bread. Our story this morning continues this thread of miracles, bread and soul food.
Matthew’s version of the story begins in a lonely place apart. Following the devastating news that John the Baptist has been beheaded Jesus withdrew from the crowds. In his grief he wanted to be alone. But when the crowds heard what had happened they needed to find the one person who could make sense of such a tragedy. Jesus may have wanted to be alone but that was not what the crowd needed. They were sad, they were hurting and they were hungry. Jesus had plans of arriving to a quiet place on the beach but when he arrived already a crowd had gathered. Perhaps his initial thoughts were less than kind about this crowd but our text says, he had compassion on them. And so, Jesus sits with them for the afternoon, talking to them, feeding their souls. However, as evening approaches the disciples realize there is no place nearby to grab a bite to eat. It is that remote. They encourage Jesus to send the crowds away.
Throughout the afternoon Jesus may have realized something. That in our grief there are times when we may want to be alone but what we need is to be surrounded by our community. We, as a community, would do well to remember that being together is nourishing. Seeming to know this all the more as night approached Jesus decided that instead of sending them away they needed to have a meal together. Sometimes in our grief it is not about what you eat but with whom you eat it.
The disciples obviously have their worries. At this moment they aren’t concerned about who they are eating with but rather if there will be any food at all. They looked around and could see very little, five loaves and two fish are meagre ingredients indeed. What can they do with so little? How can these small portions have any effect on the thousands that are gathered? Again, Barbara Brown Taylor, has a unique look on this miracle. “If the disciples operated out of a sense of scarcity, then Jesus operated out of a sense of plenty. He looked at the same things the disciples looked at, but where they saw not enough, he saw plenty: plenty of time, plenty of food, and plenty of possibilities with the resources at hand…Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that wherever there was plenty of God there would be plenty of everything else.”
Stepping away from the story for a moment there is a sense that this is rather timely for us. I hear the realities of the church, the truth about an ageing congregation, the challenges facing a church in decline, and these are all concerns that must be listened to. However, if Jesus can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for 5,000, imagine what God can do with a church that is full of wisdom, generousity, joy and experience. We often feel limited, by our limitations, we often see scarcity and are held back when in fact there is plenty. We may not have plenty of children, but we have plenty of God’s children. We may not have plenty of youth, but we have plenty of youthful spirits. We may not have plenty of space, but we have plenty of room. Wherever there is plenty of God there is plenty of everything else. Imagine what miracles can be done in this place.
We often expect miracles to happen in an instant but perhaps miracles happen over time too. We expect miracles to come directly from God with little of our own actions. I often use the mantra, Let go and Let God, and it’s a good one. But sometimes we shouldn’t just let go but rather get going. Jesus uses his words carefully when instructing the disciples. He says, “They need not go away, YOU give them something to eat.” Jesus is not offering to do the miracle alone. Jesus is not offering his own bread, that of course will come later. Jesus tells them to “look around, problem solve this one on your own. Of course I’m here to lend a hand, but look around you and see the possibilities. Stop waiting for a miracle and participate in one instead.”
You know, in the Lord’s prayer we say, “Give us this day OUR daily bread.” It isn’t give us this day, YOUR daily bread or MY daily bread but OUR. Soul food isn’t about the ingredients but rather who you are eating it with. We may have meagre ingredients that at first don’t look like much but when they are brought to Jesus, the flavour is abundant. So let’s bring what we have, bring who we are, leave what we don’t need, and use all the rest so that God’s will is plentiful in this place.

 

August 3, 2014
Preacher:

Passage:

Genesis 32:22-31, Matthew 14:13-21, Psalm 17:1-7

Service Type:

Everyone of us has a comfort food. Growing up my favourite and staple was peanut-butter and honey, open faced. As I grew up my tastes became more refined and now my comfort food is, kraft dinner, with a side of beans. Not only is it easy to prepare but there is nostalgia associated with it. It is my soul food.
Now of course traditional Soul food comes from the American south. It is food that originated in Africa and was brought over during the slave trade. The slaves brought with them staples such as okra and rice and combined them with First Nations staples such as corn, or grits, black eyed peas and sweet potato. Soul food became a way of survival for many of those slaves working on plantations. Slaves were fed as cheaply as possible, often with the leftovers, even waste foods from the plantation. As a result many were forced to make do with the ingredients at hand. They developed recipes, delicious ones at that, which used lard, collards, cornmeal and discarded cuts of meat. Many supplemented their diet by growing pots of herbs for flavour and fishing or hunting. Quickly, food that became a necessity took on extraordinary flavours. In fact, it’s practically a miracle that soul food can make catfish and cornmeal taste as good as it does. Meagre ingredients from a dark time in American history has become something that master chefs try to emulate. Urban dictionary also describes soul food as food that is eaten for your soul to survive. Food isn't just about feeding the physical needs of the body but about nourishing the soul.
In some ways using the term soul food or comfort food to describe what Jesus did is accurate. Jesus turned a meagre, basic, survival meal, into something that fed 5,000 people and in feeding the body he fed their souls. Jesus says to us all, come, sit, and eat with me and be transformed, see God in your midst, be comforted and nourish your soul.
One of the reasons why this story is so familiar is because it is one of the only miracles of Jesus that is found in all four Gospels. In fact our Gospel story this morning is one of many bread miracles that occurs throughout Scripture. Jesus' miracle reflects stories like the one of the wandering in the wilderness, the Old Testament story of how manna fell from the sky. A lesser known but no less important story comes from 2 Kings when Elisha fed a hundred hungry men with twenty loaves. When his disciples protested that it wouldn't be enough Elisha prayed and God provided. Everyone ate enough to be satisfied and there were leftovers. Jesus, of course, is called the bread of life, feeding our souls with good food. Even his birth place, Bethlehem has meaning. In Hebrew, Beth- means house, and Lehem- means bread. Jesus was born in the house of bread. Our story this morning continues this thread of miracles, bread and soul food.
Matthew's version of the story begins in a lonely place apart. Following the devastating news that John the Baptist has been beheaded Jesus withdrew from the crowds. In his grief he wanted to be alone. But when the crowds heard what had happened they needed to find the one person who could make sense of such a tragedy. Jesus may have wanted to be alone but that was not what the crowd needed. They were sad, they were hurting and they were hungry. Jesus had plans of arriving to a quiet place on the beach but when he arrived already a crowd had gathered. Perhaps his initial thoughts were less than kind about this crowd but our text says, he had compassion on them. And so, Jesus sits with them for the afternoon, talking to them, feeding their souls. However, as evening approaches the disciples realize there is no place nearby to grab a bite to eat. It is that remote. They encourage Jesus to send the crowds away.
Throughout the afternoon Jesus may have realized something. That in our grief there are times when we may want to be alone but what we need is to be surrounded by our community. We, as a community, would do well to remember that being together is nourishing. Seeming to know this all the more as night approached Jesus decided that instead of sending them away they needed to have a meal together. Sometimes in our grief it is not about what you eat but with whom you eat it.
The disciples obviously have their worries. At this moment they aren't concerned about who they are eating with but rather if there will be any food at all. They looked around and could see very little, five loaves and two fish are meagre ingredients indeed. What can they do with so little? How can these small portions have any effect on the thousands that are gathered? Again, Barbara Brown Taylor, has a unique look on this miracle. “If the disciples operated out of a sense of scarcity, then Jesus operated out of a sense of plenty. He looked at the same things the disciples looked at, but where they saw not enough, he saw plenty: plenty of time, plenty of food, and plenty of possibilities with the resources at hand...Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that wherever there was plenty of God there would be plenty of everything else.”
Stepping away from the story for a moment there is a sense that this is rather timely for us. I hear the realities of the church, the truth about an ageing congregation, the challenges facing a church in decline, and these are all concerns that must be listened to. However, if Jesus can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for 5,000, imagine what God can do with a church that is full of wisdom, generousity, joy and experience. We often feel limited, by our limitations, we often see scarcity and are held back when in fact there is plenty. We may not have plenty of children, but we have plenty of God's children. We may not have plenty of youth, but we have plenty of youthful spirits. We may not have plenty of space, but we have plenty of room. Wherever there is plenty of God there is plenty of everything else. Imagine what miracles can be done in this place.
We often expect miracles to happen in an instant but perhaps miracles happen over time too. We expect miracles to come directly from God with little of our own actions. I often use the mantra, Let go and Let God, and it's a good one. But sometimes we shouldn't just let go but rather get going. Jesus uses his words carefully when instructing the disciples. He says, “They need not go away, YOU give them something to eat.” Jesus is not offering to do the miracle alone. Jesus is not offering his own bread, that of course will come later. Jesus tells them to “look around, problem solve this one on your own. Of course I'm here to lend a hand, but look around you and see the possibilities. Stop waiting for a miracle and participate in one instead.”
You know, in the Lord's prayer we say, “Give us this day OUR daily bread.” It isn't give us this day, YOUR daily bread or MY daily bread but OUR. Soul food isn't about the ingredients but rather who you are eating it with. We may have meagre ingredients that at first don't look like much but when they are brought to Jesus, the flavour is abundant. So let's bring what we have, bring who we are, leave what we don't need, and use all the rest so that God's will is plentiful in this place.

 

Bible Text: Genesis 32:22-31, Matthew 14:13-21, Psalm 17:1-7 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

Everyone of us has a comfort food. Growing up my favourite and staple was peanut-butter and honey, open faced. As I grew up my tastes became more refined and now my comfort food is, kraft dinner, with a side of beans. Not only is it easy to prepare but there is nostalgia associated with it. It is my soul food.
Now of course traditional Soul food comes from the American south. It is food that originated in Africa and was brought over during the slave trade. The slaves brought with them staples such as okra and rice and combined them with First Nations staples such as corn, or grits, black eyed peas and sweet potato. Soul food became a way of survival for many of those slaves working on plantations. Slaves were fed as cheaply as possible, often with the leftovers, even waste foods from the plantation. As a result many were forced to make do with the ingredients at hand. They developed recipes, delicious ones at that, which used lard, collards, cornmeal and discarded cuts of meat. Many supplemented their diet by growing pots of herbs for flavour and fishing or hunting. Quickly, food that became a necessity took on extraordinary flavours. In fact, it’s practically a miracle that soul food can make catfish and cornmeal taste as good as it does. Meagre ingredients from a dark time in American history has become something that master chefs try to emulate. Urban dictionary also describes soul food as food that is eaten for your soul to survive. Food isn’t just about feeding the physical needs of the body but about nourishing the soul.
In some ways using the term soul food or comfort food to describe what Jesus did is accurate. Jesus turned a meagre, basic, survival meal, into something that fed 5,000 people and in feeding the body he fed their souls. Jesus says to us all, come, sit, and eat with me and be transformed, see God in your midst, be comforted and nourish your soul.
One of the reasons why this story is so familiar is because it is one of the only miracles of Jesus that is found in all four Gospels. In fact our Gospel story this morning is one of many bread miracles that occurs throughout Scripture. Jesus’ miracle reflects stories like the one of the wandering in the wilderness, the Old Testament story of how manna fell from the sky. A lesser known but no less important story comes from 2 Kings when Elisha fed a hundred hungry men with twenty loaves. When his disciples protested that it wouldn’t be enough Elisha prayed and God provided. Everyone ate enough to be satisfied and there were leftovers. Jesus, of course, is called the bread of life, feeding our souls with good food. Even his birth place, Bethlehem has meaning. In Hebrew, Beth- means house, and Lehem- means bread. Jesus was born in the house of bread. Our story this morning continues this thread of miracles, bread and soul food.
Matthew’s version of the story begins in a lonely place apart. Following the devastating news that John the Baptist has been beheaded Jesus withdrew from the crowds. In his grief he wanted to be alone. But when the crowds heard what had happened they needed to find the one person who could make sense of such a tragedy. Jesus may have wanted to be alone but that was not what the crowd needed. They were sad, they were hurting and they were hungry. Jesus had plans of arriving to a quiet place on the beach but when he arrived already a crowd had gathered. Perhaps his initial thoughts were less than kind about this crowd but our text says, he had compassion on them. And so, Jesus sits with them for the afternoon, talking to them, feeding their souls. However, as evening approaches the disciples realize there is no place nearby to grab a bite to eat. It is that remote. They encourage Jesus to send the crowds away.
Throughout the afternoon Jesus may have realized something. That in our grief there are times when we may want to be alone but what we need is to be surrounded by our community. We, as a community, would do well to remember that being together is nourishing. Seeming to know this all the more as night approached Jesus decided that instead of sending them away they needed to have a meal together. Sometimes in our grief it is not about what you eat but with whom you eat it.
The disciples obviously have their worries. At this moment they aren’t concerned about who they are eating with but rather if there will be any food at all. They looked around and could see very little, five loaves and two fish are meagre ingredients indeed. What can they do with so little? How can these small portions have any effect on the thousands that are gathered? Again, Barbara Brown Taylor, has a unique look on this miracle. “If the disciples operated out of a sense of scarcity, then Jesus operated out of a sense of plenty. He looked at the same things the disciples looked at, but where they saw not enough, he saw plenty: plenty of time, plenty of food, and plenty of possibilities with the resources at hand…Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that wherever there was plenty of God there would be plenty of everything else.”
Stepping away from the story for a moment there is a sense that this is rather timely for us. I hear the realities of the church, the truth about an ageing congregation, the challenges facing a church in decline, and these are all concerns that must be listened to. However, if Jesus can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for 5,000, imagine what God can do with a church that is full of wisdom, generousity, joy and experience. We often feel limited, by our limitations, we often see scarcity and are held back when in fact there is plenty. We may not have plenty of children, but we have plenty of God’s children. We may not have plenty of youth, but we have plenty of youthful spirits. We may not have plenty of space, but we have plenty of room. Wherever there is plenty of God there is plenty of everything else. Imagine what miracles can be done in this place.
We often expect miracles to happen in an instant but perhaps miracles happen over time too. We expect miracles to come directly from God with little of our own actions. I often use the mantra, Let go and Let God, and it’s a good one. But sometimes we shouldn’t just let go but rather get going. Jesus uses his words carefully when instructing the disciples. He says, “They need not go away, YOU give them something to eat.” Jesus is not offering to do the miracle alone. Jesus is not offering his own bread, that of course will come later. Jesus tells them to “look around, problem solve this one on your own. Of course I’m here to lend a hand, but look around you and see the possibilities. Stop waiting for a miracle and participate in one instead.”
You know, in the Lord’s prayer we say, “Give us this day OUR daily bread.” It isn’t give us this day, YOUR daily bread or MY daily bread but OUR. Soul food isn’t about the ingredients but rather who you are eating it with. We may have meagre ingredients that at first don’t look like much but when they are brought to Jesus, the flavour is abundant. So let’s bring what we have, bring who we are, leave what we don’t need, and use all the rest so that God’s will is plentiful in this place.