Bread for Today

bread rolls-webToday we celebrate ‘Lammas’.  It is not something you are going to be overly familiar with unless you have come across it on an old calendar of the seasons.  It marks the beginning of Harvest, traditionally the wheat harvest.  Lammas means Loaf Mass.  At the beginning of the harvest the workers would gather together, bake a loaf of bread with the first cut of the harvest and offer it at the Mass as a thanksgiving for the years growth.
Now the cynic in me might want to suggest that this gathering was contrived to draw the workers together before they were sent out into the fields, and perhaps it was.  It was certainly an offering to God of the first cut of the harvest in recognition of God’s provision of the conditions necessary for good growth.  A good year, and the people must have pleased God.  A bad year and the people clearly had need of repentance.  I dare not look up to the skies with that in mind.  But do we believe now in a God who changes the weather on a whim or perhaps if someone prays hard enough for a fine day?  Is that what our faith comes down to?  For me Faith in God is actually about what we don’t know, for if we knew everything, then there would be no need for faith in the first place.  We surely must continue to question and to re-evaluate what we know and each day we learn a little more.  I’m certainly not so arrogant as to believe that God changes the weather on account of my small needs.  If so we might as well still be offering our loaves of Lammas Bread in thanksgiving that the crop has simply been able to grow.  What then of the faithful people whose crop is washed away due to violent storms or flooding?  Is this some sort of judgement upon their existence?  That doesn’t sound very much like the God of Jesus.  Lammas may have gone out of fashion because theology moved on, though no-one thought to mention this to the complier of the lectionary readings for August!  However we see it, it is still good I feel to bake a loaf and share it among friends giving thanks for Bread for Today.  The Israelites were tested.  Were they willing to put their faith in God?  Would they gather more than a day’s bread?  There are many lessons here about taking our share and leaving the rest for others.  There are also many biblical suggestions for good land management – some of which still make it to at least some of our fields.
There is something more important I feel at Lammas.  That is to take a simple loaf of bread (and this year it is a very simple loaf as I left one ingredient out) and to ask a blessing and to say – today I am okay.  Let tomorrow worry about itself.  The Bread of life for today.  If we are willing to accept it, then in means giving up all of our needs and wants into God’s hands and living a strangely simple life.  Live simply so that others may simply live.  Goes the Christian Aid slogan.  Jesus says that those who follow in his path will never hunger nor thirst.  I believe that means more than hunger for food.  Jesus reprimands those who follow him after eating the loaves and fishes.  This is not what he means at all – no wonder we see Jesus take himself away from the crowds before and after these encounters.  When the people experience God they don’t understand it.  We can have a life abundant if we are willing to refocus ourselves onto the path that Jesus trod.
I have baked for you a small loaf to taste after the service today.  We call it bread for the journey – for today.  When you eat it you can reflect on what is missing –  not the missing ingredient, (because for my taste, it is fine without it) but what is missing from our journey.