A good number of pastors use the early hours of Sunday mornings to finish up worship preparation. Maybe finalize those notes on the sermon, or find pictures to go with their powerpoint show, or even go over to the church and run through the sermon once or twice in an empty room. Sometimes you have to pick up bread and wine for communion, or shovel snow away from the door if it’s winter and you live where it snows.
Me, I make breakfast.
If I’m not out on the road supply preaching, I have the luxury, because our community worships Sunday evenings, of getting up early, making coffee and following pretty much the same routine as every other day of the week: let the dog out, feed the cat, pour my first cup of coffee, sit down in my favorite chair and pray the Morning Office. Then I read or watch TV until my girls get up. Sunday mornings, though, are special. I make breakfast: eggs, muffins or pancakes or waffles, bacon or sausage.
We love those weekend days when we have the time for a hearty family breakfast before we launch into our day. Eating together is important, and not just because you’re fueling up your body: eating together is about community. It’s about relationships. Eating together nourishes our souls as much as it nourishes our bodies. Jesus knew that breaking bread together was a primary means of creating community, and so in every resurrection story from the gospel of Luke, Jesus eats with his disciples. We could even go so far as to say that Jesus hungered to eat with his friends. If we pay attention to these meals, we see the kingdom of God breaking into the world; not with dominance and strength, but with a far different power of lives brought together, souls well-nourished, broken bodies strengthened together. Eating together is important, to Jesus, to his disciples, and to us here in this place also.
All of which serves to make tonight even more important than we might have realized. I sat down this morning to my heaping plate of bacon, eggs and blueberry muffins and realized I’d never doubted, not for a second, that we’d be able to eat that meal together. If we had been out of muffins, or bacon, or eggs, there were plenty of alternatives in our cupboards. But there are those who do not have the means to be assured they will have enough food. Here’s a story about them:
Imagine if Jesus had come into the midst of his disciples on the night of our story from Luke and discovered they had no food. Remember the times Jesus fed the multitudes who’d come to listen to him. Recall the stories from the Old Testament of people fed by God’s gracious hand: the widow and her son who sheltered Elijah, and the people of Israel who lived on manna in the desert for 40 years. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, part of that prayer was to ask God for our daily bread. Food and nourishment are intimately tied to the story of God and God’s people – from the moment God created all that is to the meal by which we are given the flesh and blood of our Lord to the feast that awaits us when God’s kingdom has fully come into being.
These things come about because of God’s gracious action, in God’s time by God’s will. But we live in our time, where we are called to act with will and purpose to tend the world God has entrusted to us. In our time, here in our world, we have the resources and technology to end hunger, to ensure the basic needs of all God’s children are met. What we lack is the will to make it happen. This is where tonight becomes important.
Hunger doesn’t respect politics. Republicans and Democrats go hungry exactly the same way. Children of Occupy protestors suffer every bit as much as children of Tea Party protestors. Working to end hunger is a humanitarian act, not a political one. We have the opportunity to make a small difference, to be advocates for those who will go to sleep hungry tonight. In this action we help tend to the nourishment of God’s people – and in tending to their nourishment, we tend their souls also. The kingdom of God breaks into the world in such acts, and we become witnesses to the resurrection life Christ has prepared for us and for all.
Tonight we’ve remembered how Jesus broke bread with his disciples, how he ate and drank with them and how their wondering, questioning hearts were filled. May your wondering, questioning hearts be filled as well, in this community gathered around God’s table and in your action for those whose tables are empty. May their souls and their bodies be nourished by your action, and may your soul, your very being, find peace and joy in knowing you have been a witness against hunger in God’s world. In the name of Christ, may it be so. Amen.