Last year for the topic of water I wrote, "As Christians we are People of the Book that begins with waters of the first creation and ends with rivers of the new, a book in which water is a persistent image." In the Hebrew scriptures the journey into the land...into the land...into the land forms an incessant theme; the garden of the first creation ultimately becomes the city of the new creation that begins in the garden of resurrection. From the earliest Pentateuch source we read about God forming the first human from the dirt of the ground and naming him A-dam, after that dirt. Later on the New Testament shows us the new Adam, Jesus of Nazareth, who reveals the divine to us most fully and completely, and like the first Adam is born out of the stuff of the earth.
In the book of Genesis in the Old Covenant scriptures, we read about Joseph's brothers betraying him and selling him into Egypt. After he spends time in prison, Joseph becomes a community leader and sits in authority at the right hand of the Egyptian pharaoh; from that position he helps distribute life-restoring grain to a hungry people. In the gospel accounts in the New Covenant Scriptures, we read about Jesus of Nazareth, who like Joseph is sold and betrayed into the ultimate prison, the ultimate bondage of death and is resurrected to new life before ascending to sovereignty at the "right hand" of God. From there, like Joseph, through his followers he has charged to be his continued presence on earth Jesus distributes life-giving grain to a starving world.
Water was the subject of last year's Blog Action Day and this year it's food! The faith and practice tradition I follow celebrates both water and bread as central to our understanding of God's gracious actions and presence in the world.
Early in the pages of scripture, God gives plants and trees and seeds for food and commands the people to care for and steward the land and the rest of creation. Central to the formation of Israel is the divine promise of deliverance from slavery and that the people would be led to a land "flowing with milk and honey," a place with pomegranates, figs, olives, vineyards, a land they would cultivate and steward in freedom rather than in grueling slavery. Scripture gives human creatures a place within the created order and a call to steward, maintain, treasure and support the rest of creation; the commandments that relate human creatures one to another and to all creation are critical for the planet's survival. The Creator God covenants with all creation, and as creatures in God's image, so do the people of God.
Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 8:6-11The Gospel of Jesus Christ has no national or cultural boundaries; it is "good news" of victory of life over death for all creation, yet the good news must becomes incarnate, embodied and enfleshed within particular local cultures. In the church eating events are commonplace and have achieved close to a level of caricature. Potlucks, Christmas Teas, Ice Cream Socials, Barbecues on the Bay, monthly Friday evening parties or potlucks...
Through its witness, scripture brings humanity a call to help initiate justice and redemption for all creation and an ultimate vision of the eschatological feast in which the entire earth is healthy and restored, living in mutual covenantal dependence. The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist - sometimes simply referred to as "the sacrament" - is the proleptic, preliminary yet full realization of the time of redemption of all creation. It's a vernacular meal and a nutritious one! The eucharist is slow food, it's cooperatively grown and produced food, it is nourishing and it is memorable. Just as waters and rivers become holy water in baptism, in the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, solid earth, terra firma, becomes holy land, tierra santa.
Scripture moves from the waters of the old creation to the rivers of the new; the narrative of scripture moves from the garden of the first creation to the city of the new creation. That "end time" of the no more of cycles of war, violence, famine, hatred, deceit and deprivation will be a time of the fullness of redemption for all creation, not solely human creatures. The eschatological, "final things" feast of the Eucharist is sign, symbol, realization and reality of "will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" When the disciples asked Jesus that question, he told them to wait right there in Jerusalem (the center of the known world at the time) until the Spirit engulfed and engaged them with his power to enact redemption on earth. [Acts 1:6-8] The pre-exilic writer who's sometimes referred to as 1st Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Isaiah of Jerusalem brought a necessary vision for whole food and covenantal living:
In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4Body of Christ, Amen!!!
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