Recognizing that Food is Sacred
October 21, 2018 Sermon by Gloria Christian – World Food Day
“Recognizing that Food is Sacred”
Recognizing food as sacred is not something uppermost in my mind, I must say. I see the bread and juice as sacred during communion, but my everyday lunches and dinners are just gobbled to fill hunger. We as a community of faith, as a denomination, and as earth creatures are called to understand seeds as sacred.
We have been celebrating God’s creation for some weeks now and this is the last Sunday of the time for creation. We have been celebrating God’s creation of a self-sustaining web of life in which plants, animals, land, water, air and us as interwoven.
Many traditions affirm that food is an element in spiritual celebrations. Maybe we can adopt the practice of affirming that eating is a sacred spiritual practice which celebrates the delicate connectedness we have with the seeds that make our food we eat possible.
So, I ask, what should we do to be more mindful of the sacredness of food while dining? Living alone, eating doesn’t feel very sacred. I think, when we are eating, eating might be all we think about; the only thing we are honouring with our attention. No phone or iPad within reach, no TV or radio on in the background. Preferably not even speaking to others for a few minutes; just eat with our full attention to the food. Just maybe, each bite might be approached with reverence, with full appreciation of where the food came from and the effort that went into preparing it. Maybe we would pay attention to subtle flavours, textures, how each bite makes us feel, or the subtle differences that exist depending on the morsels that come together with each fork-full making each dish as appetizing for all the senses as possible and imagine the nutrients flowing through our bodies, nourishing every cell. Would we then recognize food as sacred? All we have to di is look at a malnourished child or adult to understand their pain and sorrow. Perhaps then we would recognize food as sacred.
The following reflections of how and why seeds are sacred are given by two United Church folk:
Adrian Jacobs says Aboriginal people have a ceremony in spring to bless the seeds before the planting season. They also called corn, beans, and squash their ‘three sisters.’ This is in keeping with our view of creation as relatives, says Adrian e.g., elder brother sun, grandmother moon, grandfather thunder, and mother earth. The sustenance provided by food makes Haudenosaunee people happy. This is how they celebrate seeds as sacred.
From my other readings for this World Food Day, a seed contains in itself all the DNA necessary to produce a full-grown plant and fruit containing seeds for the future. In essence, in a seed is a universe of plants that expresses the wisdom and miracle of the Creator. Adrian Jacobs is Cayuga First Nation of the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. Jacobs is the Keeper of the Circle/Principal at the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, in Beausejour, Manitoba.
Patricia Vickers another member of our church says, “Where I come from, our soil is comprised of rock, sand, silt, and peat. There was no cultivation of medicinal plants in the past or present. The seeds must thrive without the assistance of our intervention. Plant medicine knowledge is passed on through the mother’s line. For females, one is shown by an aunty how to gather the plants that were once seeds. She must search for where the seeds have grown into cedar, devil’s club, and spruce to assist others or self with purification.
“All life is sacred. A seed, in particular, is significant because a seed needs to be connected, in contact with all elements to grow, to become. We speak of thought as a seed, says Patricia, and the heart as the place where the seed grows. When one’s heart is not clean, it will not produce good thoughts, good seeds. The seed is the beginning; it is already the nature, the essence of what it will become. May our hearts hold good seeds.” Patricia Vickers’ heritage weaves ancestry from the United Kingdom and the Eagle Clan from the village of Gitxaala, British Columbia.
I’m not a gardener, although my father-in-law tried many years ago to help me with a garden; but you gardeners know of the sacredness of a seed and the miracle of its produce. Going back to Patricia’s faith and belief that thought is a seed and the heart is the place the seed grows fits with our gospel reading this morning.
Jesus has something crucial to say in the Parable of the Sower. The parable is about different types of soil that receive the seed. The seed is the word of God. The point of the story is that the sower, sowing the seed, obtains different results from different soil.
Whenever God’s Word is communicated the results depend on the fertility, the soil, of the hearer’s heart.
There were two methods of sowing seed in Jesus’ day. One was to balance a bag of seed on the back of a donkey, cut holes in either side of the bag and let the seed run out as the donkey walked over the ground. The other method was to throw the seed by hand. This latter method seems to be the picture Jesus had in mind.
The reason some seed “fell by the wayside” was that farmers left paths for travelers through their fields. This ground naturally would be hard-packed by the traffic. So, birds would quickly eat the seed which fell there.
The hearts of some folks have become so hardened by the world’s traffic that the seed of the Word cannot penetrate and the young plants, being rooted only in shallow soil, had no subsoil supply of water to draw upon. Therefore, the hot, midday sun dried up and killed those fragile sprouts.
it. They have heard too many false advertisements, bought too many lemons from fast-talking used car salesmen, been jilted by too many fickle lovers. Having been burned in the past, they are bitter and cynical and say People are no good; they are all liars and hypocrites. The preacher’s sermon is just one more sales pitch and the preacher just another con artist.
With such people the message goes in one ear and out the other. Nothing can get through the protective shell they have built around themselves.
Shallow hearers quickly drop out. Galilee is underlaid with limestone rock. In some places this rock is covered only by a thin layer of soil. The early spring sun would warm this rock, which in turn kept the soil warm. Seed which feel on this soil would germinate quickly. But this warm soil contained little moisture Jesus remarked that God’s Word cannot take root in shallow hearts. Their unchurched friends mocked their newfound faith. It became a chore to get up on Sunday mornings. Suddenly these easily-won converts dropped out of sight as though they were in the FBI’s witness protection program! As Jesus said, “they are offended” when they find out it isn’t all a bed of roses; there are a few thorns too.
Even in the good soil the harvest varied, depending on how good it was. A hundredfold may seem like a bumper crop but ancient records show that in some cases such was possible.
Not all Christians have the same gifts, abilities or potential. Some produce more fruit than others, though all believers are commanded to bear some fruit. The point is that we are to bear as much fruit as we can with our individual talents. This happens as we move from being merely hearers of the Word to doers of it as well. For that is the mark of a responsive hearer. As Jesus cautioned, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”
Today as we think of World Food and the countless here and abroad who starve, might we think about the seed as sacred and how we sow our seeds, our faith and our generosity, are small ways we can help in the community to feed the hungry with Mission and Service dollars and with monies for outreach into the community from the Thrift Shop. Amen.