Karen Matthias-Long

(I posted this on my Lenten devotional blog, but thought it was worth posting here, too – as a way to share a wonderful book,  to share a way to feed the hungry that will make your mouth drop and to share a worship idea.)

“It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

It suddenly occurred to me today that the same part of the body I use for eating is the same part of the body from which I speak. My mouth is a tool used for both things. Not just eating. Not just speaking. Here are a few thoughts that came to mind when I read this passage:

  • One does not live by bread ALONE. God’s word is also food….words that come from a mouth. This picture of the bird and chicks is how I imagine God when I read this passage. God is like a mother bird that feeds her scrawny hatch-lings – their mouths eager for this food that the mother bird offers. I need both earthly food and God’s word to truly live.
  • Eating is spiritual – or at least, should be. How many times have I gulped down a meal without taking time to really reflect on the spiritual nature of this act? I remember a prayer that we did in youth group once. Our instructions were to say a prayer before each bite of food we took. That’s not a bad idea!
This week I was moved to tears when I heard about the food bank at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco. (Click here to see the inspiring video). It began when an atheist, Sara Miles, walked into the church and a stranger handed her a piece of bread (communion), and in her words, “I knew that it was made out of real flour and water and yeast – yet I also knew that God, named Jesus, was alive in my mouth.” Because of that experience, Sara says, “I came to believe that God is revealed not only in bread and wine during church services, but whenever we share food with others – particularly strangers.” She has written a book about this experience in “Take this Bread.”

Sara started a food bank at St. Gregory – and the amazing thing about this is where this food bank takes place – in the sanctuary, around the altar at St. Gregory’s! All are welcomed – really welcomed with words of hospitality – and no one is turned away.

We are hungry for you, God. Feed us!

(Do you know a congregation that is looking for an alternative service? Check this link to see video of the congregation’s Easter Vigil celebration for a different kind of alternative service idea. My favorite part? Dancing around the altar!)