Good Food, Soul Food

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Wandering through the wilderness

Leaves our selves, our bodies

Parched

Starving

For nourishment

Reaching blindly out anywhere

Instead right here,

At the Table,

Where we should allow our souls to be renewed

Filled

With,

Jesus Christ

Amen.

(pause)

This indeed has been one of those weeks, beloved

When life comes crashing all around us,

And in our sorrow and struggle,

We cling to whatever comfort comes before us,

Or whatever food reminds us,

Of those who we have loved

And now, lost.

(pause)

And then the Table is set before us

And offered to us

And sometimes we are hoping for instant gratification

But when we find the Table is set,

Good Food set out before us-

Perhaps not what we were hoping for

As children of God,

We sometimes are defiant

Pushing ourselves away

From what is set before us.

Think of that one dish,

As a child

You avoided

Like the plague.

I am sure anyone of you could.

For me it was black eyed peas

But,

When our very being is invaded with illness

Or troubles

Or searching in vain for genuine comfort

Or to experience that comfort in the midst of community

That Good Food,

Becomes Soul Food.

For me now,

Black eyed peas with rice

At the end of a harried week

Centers me in the moment

The importance of my life,

How it is intertwined with many other lives

And how essential this Bond truly is

And how simple this meal says-

“Welcome.”

(pause)

For many of us, now

Homemade chicken soup

In the midst of viruses and illness

And in the midst of bravely waiting

for the healing that only God can give

Reminds us

That although we are remiss in having any physical ability

To take away the sickness plaguing our loved ones

We pour our hopes

And prayers

And Love

Into that pot, or casserole or bowl

Because sometimes its all we can do,

To let them know

Of our presence,

Saying

“You are not alone.”

(pause)

And in taking in that Soul Food

We are transformed,

Mended

Healed

From within

Here

And because of that wholeness we experience

We in turn can’t help ourselves

To share some of that Soul Food,

That Goodness birthed in Love, Mercy and Grace

With everyone we come in contact with

That’s how God’s Word should fill us

(pause)

Recently our sisters and brothers from ELCA World Hunger

Asked me to share my thoughts

For a Lenten devotional they were putting together

My assignment?

Isaiah 55

I’d like to share this with you

“When you love another human being, it means you see after their very self: their health and wellness, their wholeness. It’s sorrowful that Sunday after Sunday, people of faith enter into faith communities and churches, partake of what is freely offered at the table, and after departing, refuse to do the same for those who are wandering, rooted in the streets because that is home.”

(pause)

That observation exposes a bleak landscape

Littered with conversations gathered into everyday winds

Leave the impression upon our consciousness

Of a confused and harsh world

And how we as people of faith, fit in.

Is the Good News calling us, beloved

To stand with those who are hungry, empty-

Feeding them

Sharing with them

While lifting up our voices, singing O Freedom?

Is the Gospel calling us towards persistence?

That we continually knock at those proverbial

Impenetrable doors,

for answers,

for support for those that we love,

and those we are called to care and serve.

There are those who shake their heads and say,

It’s not our affair,

We just should preach Jesus,

And then everything will be alright

They will see the errors of their ways

We shouldn’t cross that line

That picket line

That border, line

But see,

Sunday after Sunday

These our sisters and brothers in Christ,

Stream in and out of church faith communities

Hearing the Word

And yet,

But it appears they are not consuming the Word.

The Word of God should be inhaled into who we are

Because when you have Good Food,

You should be reinvigorated

Instead many are resigned to skip the whole meal

Diving in straight for the dessert,

How many of us have done that as children

Or even adults.

Desserts, that sweetness

Makes us feel good.

We want to be happy,

We want that sugar boost,

We don’t want to be reminded about how costly Grace is

We want to concentrate on Easter Morning,

Instead of Good Friday evening

Avoiding the CORE where God’s Word challenges US

Which says

“Incline your ear, and come to me;

 listen, so that you may live.

I will make with you an everlasting covenant”

Avoiding hearing where,

Time and again,

It seems we have failed God

Continually breaking that covenant

And shockingly hearing Jesus’s Words

In our Gospel this morning,

That unless we repent

We will perish.

(pause)

 “Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money,

come, buy and eat!”

This final chapter

In what is known as Second Isaiah

spans from Isaiah 40-55

We are not sure if the prophet Isaiah was speaking directly

To God’s people

Or if through teachings of the prophet in public squares,

Imagine your Pastor standing out on 166th street,

Declaring to God’s People

they had not been abandoned

Just as Isaiah did so many millennia before,

Proclaiming to a people in exile

In Babylon of all places

Jerusalem, destroyed

Outcast away from the light and love of God, forever

Because of their sin.

When our own calamity and chaos happens,

Because of our impatience

When the Creator God whispers to us, to be still

Our stubbornness

Of not wanting to accept the bountiful harvest before us,

Because it means hard work and trusting in God alone

Our hastiness, to abandoning the temples

and churches

and sacred spaces

Consuming other Food from other gods,

That we can feel and touch

That fills us,

But drains our souls empty.

And so when Good News is professed,

That the Table is set,

That all are welcomed,

We hang our heads,

That we did not rely on our faith,

That it truly was our fault

We make excuses,

That we are not presentable

Because we are still sinners,

That we’re sort of obligated to continue this, meal plan

We are locked in with this damaged world.

Do you know beloved,

There are people who come into this sacred place,

Who remain in their pews,

Because they feel,

They are not worthy

Of forgiveness

Of their place at the Table?

But there is Good News!

Even when our actions are sinful

And we considered worthless,

God, Our Parent loves us

And always gives us ONE MORE DAY

To bear fruit,

Good Food!

(pause)

Do you know beloved,

There are places where we would not be welcomed

To join the faithful around the Table,

Because we are not on their “A” list.

But there is Good News!

Because when our sinful presence is not wanted or welcomed

Our hard work, struggles and failures not enough for this world,

God calls to us

“You who have no money,

Come buy and eat!”

Because this, THIS

There is no cost to receive this Good Food,

This Soul Food

Because Jesus Christ, the Son of God,

HAS ALREADY PAID that cost

The cost of His LIFE!

(pause)

So come,

This Table is NEVER HELD BACK

Because of your shortcomings

Because of your sin

Because of who you are

Know that when we are here,

This TABLE is open,

Because it is the Creator God’s command,

That ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN be FED

Renewed,

Made Whole

Saved,

Because of Jesus.

Thanks be to God

 

 

 

 

 

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