Aloha Friday Message – August 3, 2017 – Day-Old Bread

1831AFC080318 – Day-Old Bread

Last week’s index number was mistakenly entered as 1831AFC080318. It should have been 1830AFC072718 – A Heart’s Desire.

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  Psalm 78:25 25 Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Wow, time is really flying! Yesterday was August 2, an important day in our family for two reasons. First it is the birthday of Merilee Alice Todd. Born in 1953, she’d be 65 this week. We miss our sister, the only girl in a family with six kids. She left this world to be with our mom and dad on August 28, 2006 at age 53. And, it was on her birthday in 2008 that David Earl Conrad, the Choir Master at Kauaʻi High School went to meet our Maker. Both died due to massive heart attacks. Both were greatly loved by just about everyone. If they had met each other, they would have been great friends here, so we’re pretty confident they’ve been friends there for quite some time. Remembering her brings up a lot of images from the past, and as I was preparing this message, one image in particular popped up. Here it is:

This is a King Soopers Grocery Store. It was one of the places we frequented to buy “day-old bread.” The grocer would fill at least one shopping cart with discounted bread. We arrived as a strike-team – swoop into the store (it had a turnstile entry like a subway station) and head for the “bread baskets.” One of us would grab an empty shopping cart and the others would start gathering (crabbing was more like it) loaves of bread and we’d toss it over to the sibling guarding the cart. We were rarely the only family doing this, so competition was pretty fierce. Merilee could hold her own in that mêlée, and because she was small, she could slip under the turnstile and get in good position while the empty cart was brought in. This was especially important during the school year, because with six kids eating 1-2 sandwiches a day, we went through a LOT of bread! We used to make up dozens (seemed like hundreds) of sandwiches all at once – using our day-old bread – and put them in waxed paper sandwich bags, stack’em into shoe boxes, and stuff’em in the freezer. That way, all you had to do was go to the freezer, grab your sandwich(es), get an apple from the bin under the stairs, pick up a few chips, and some of mom’s homemade cookies, and lunch was ready. Of course by the time lunch hour came around, the sandwich had mostly defrosted and it was really soggy with little ice-crystals here and there. We mostly made bologna salad and egg salad as I recall. Even the lettuce – if we had some to put in – defrosted and was pretty wilted and tasteless. BUT, we had a lunch and it filled us up, and that was that.

This memory comes to mind because of the content of the Scripture for this Sunday and last Sunday. Last Sunday, Jesus fed 5,000+ people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. You remember how that turned out, don’t you? Matthew 14:20 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. There certainly was an abundance of food. Last week we commented that God always gives us so much of anything we need that we always have enough for ourselves plus some to share. In today’s key verse, the Psalmist recalls the gift from God to the Israelites in the desert: Manna, the bread of the Mighty Ones. If we take a look at a few of the words in that passage, we can gain some good insights into how the LORD likes to do things:

  1. Bread – לֶ֣חֶם (lechem) { lekh’-em} bread; also connotatively, food – especially satisfying food.
  2. Angels – a אַ֭בִּירִים (’abbîrîm) from אַבִּיר (abbir) {ab-beer’} mighty, valiant, Stallions(!), valiant steeds, the mighty ones, and in this case, Angels.
  3. Abundance – לָשֹֽׂבַע׃ (lā-śō-ḇa‘) from שֹׂ֫בַע (soba) {so’-bah} satiety, abundance, fullness, fully satisfied, enough to have plenty plus leftovers.

Jesus’ miracles of feeding thousands of people with the contents of one single meal resonate with the history of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years (See Exodus 16:35). God supplied them with manna all of that time and there was always enough. Those who gathered much and those who gathered little had enough. You will enjoy reading this passage about the manna in Exodus 16. Each had enough to eat; if there was more than could be finished, they had to discard it. If they tried to save some for the next day, it rotted and got all wormy. They could gather enough for the whole family every day. The was one exception: They could gather two day’s worth before the Sabbath so they would not have to work at gathering on the Sabbath; however it had to be boiled or baked. This “bread from Heaven” never had a chance to become day-old bread because it was consumed as- and when-needed. God also provided meat – quail – which came to them for the evening meal. God had heard enough of their wailing and whining and decided to give them reason to stop grumbling.

Even with the abundance of manna, they complained that they should never have left Egypt. There they had food, and meat, and melons and cucumbers, and certainly much more than just MANNA. This is recalled in the Psalms here: Psalm 105:40 40 They asked, and he brought quails, and gave them food from heaven in abundance. God had a pretty good idea there! He told them, “If you don’t stop grumbling about my provision for you, you’ll be sorry.” He told them they’d have to eat quail for a monthuntil it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.” (See Numbers 11:18-20) It’s a pretty clear reminder that later got translated at family dinner tables as “eat what you’re given or go without!” You know, in a way, God says that to us about Jesus, too.

John 6:32-35 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. That’s prefigured for us in Exodus 16:31, scripture tells us they called it מָ֑ן (man) {mawn} which means “What (is it)?” According to the accounts of their wanderings in the desert, they had it available to them – along with the quail – for 40 years. It could be prepared several ways – baked, boiled, ground into flour and made into cakes/loaves of bread. It was always there, always fresh, and always the same. Jesus is always here, always fresh, always the same FOREVER. Jesus DOESN’T GET OLD. Loving Jesus never gets old. Being loved by Jesus never gets old. We can never take in so much of him that he becomes loathsome to us. His flesh is true (perfect) food and is blood is true (perfect) drink. This means that, as bread becomes fully assimilated – completely incorporated – into our living bodies, it is the same for Christ Jesus who becomes fully assimilated into our souls as part of the Divine presence. The Manna which came down from Heaven into the wilderness sustained the bodies of the Israelites, but not the souls. Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven feeds us the source of all life – God. God is the Father of Life. Jesus is the Deliverer of Life who announces the Salvation of God through the conquest of Death. We literally become what we eat because he says “for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

I think God tells us there is no way we can gather an excess of his Grace, for even though our need for Grace is immense, God’s store of Grace is infinitely larger. Remember what he told Paul: “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” There’s always just enough, never too little and never too much. It’s always just Right for he himself is Righteousness. And what did Jesus say about those of us who want that Righteousness? Matthew 5:6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Fresh Bread from Heaven is yours! Just open up your heart and tell God, “Fill’er up!”

Why is there “day-old” bread? That’s easy to figure out isn’t it? More bread was baked than could be sold. Instead of hoarding it or discarding it, the grocer and/or baker give the buyer a discount. This kind of abundance is not like God’s kind of abundance. God blesses us in great measure with everything we need – so much that we have ways to help meet the needs of others. Jesus tells his Disciples – and us – that he is the true bread sent down from Heaven. I am baffled and saddened when people turn down the Bread from Heaven so they can chew on the sand in the Wilderness. In the passage from Exodus, the Israelites had been on their trek for about six weeks. They were hungry, tired, and pretty cranky. The exultant nation – just starting to get itself together – was already out of patience, and also out of the corn they had brought with them. They began to distrust Moses. Why did Moses come for them? Because God sent him. Why did Jesus come here? Because God sent him. What are the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus accomplishing in you and in me this very moment? What do we believe? We should believe that it was his Father’s will that everyone who looks upon Jesus and believes in him will have eternal life and will be raised up on the last day. (Verse 40) In verse 47 he says, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.” The food that does not perish is the eternal food, the Christ of God! That is why for thousands of years Christians have proclaimed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Believing is how we internalize the power of the Resurrection. Just as we internalize food and beverages by eating and drinking, we internalize the sacrifice of Jesus’ body broken for our sins and Jesus’ blood poured out for our salvation by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Eating and drinking mean believing! How can we find the faith to truly believe?

Jesus himself tells us the answer and then provides the answer in verse 63: Life is spiritual. Your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. They are life! If we try to understand the power of Communion by using worldly parameters, it makes no sense. We walk away grumbling, as did Jesus’ contemporaries and just as the Israelites did in the desert. The Perfect Food that preserved their lives for a whole generation was right outside their door every morning. The perfect food that brings eternal life is right at the door of our hearts every moment. Even after forty years of manna, manna, manna, Israel lived on manna and the word of God through faith, trust, and obedience. Who among us would prefer to chew on sand and sticks and rocks and roots rather have the manna of the Body and Blood of Christ? Don’t settle for day-old bread! Go get your manna!

Do you have manna, manna, manna every day? Then you should be happy, happy, happy every day! Come on, sing along with me! Manna in the morning, manna in the noontime, manna at supper time! The joy of sharing in the Eucharist, Holy Communion, is an even greater joy!! Opening the Word and devouring it every day? Fantabulous!! What do you think? Manna, manna, manna? How about

MA-NA-MA-NAH! Doot-doo-didoo-doot!! ( Music Link)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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