The Lammas Loaf (07-08-23)
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.’ (Leviticus 23. 9 – 10)
This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6. 9 – 11)
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6. 35)
A Thought Lammas is an ancient festival, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. In Medieval England, tenant farmers were required to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords. In early summer, grain ran low, while fresh crops were still growing, but Lammas heralded the beginning of a season of plenty, reward for hard work in a spirit of celebration. It always falls on 1 August and is thought to be derived from an old English word for loaf followed by mass, suggesting a service in which the Eucharist was celebrated. Traditionally the first fruits of the harvest belonged to God and were offered to God in an attitude of thanksgiving, based on the imperative in Leviticus 23. This festival pre-dates Harvest festivals, which tend to come after the harvest has been safely gathered in during September or early October.
The Bible teaches us to be thankful, but it also teaches us to pray for what we need day by day. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray ‘Give us today our daily bread’. Bread is a staple. Staple foods are principal raw ingredients grown in a region, the basic dietary items, which we eat every day. Too often we take the basic things for granted, forgetting to recognize God’s faithfulness, provision and generosity.
Bread is a significant food around the world in its different forms. What is more, it’s no longer just basic white or brown. We have our pick of artisan bakes too – ciabattas, pittas, paninis, brioche, baguettes and so the list goes on. And be honest, there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly cooked bread straight from the oven to make us feel hungry! The supermarkets know it, tickling our taste buds with their onsite bakeries. The smell entices us to buy!
So far so good. We are taught to come with thankfulness for God’s provision of bread. We are taught to pray for that provision daily, and then Jesus takes it a whole stage further. Jesus knows the importance of bread as a staple food, and he goes on to describe himself as the Bread of Life. Alongside potatoes, rice and pasta, bread is a hole-filler, an energy giver, a daily foundation for healthy living. Jesus is saying come to me to be fed regularly in your spiritual life too – through daily Bible reading and daily prayer, spending time in Jesus’ presence and listening to him.
I wonder how hungry are you today for the Bread of Life? And how thankful are you for his provision and nourishment?
A Prayer (by Revd Robin Gamble) Lord Jesus, if you are the Bread of Life, then I am one of the hungry ones. As I live I get hungry, when I serve you I get hungry, no matter how much I eat, I keep getting hungry. So may you be may daily bread, may daily bread of life. Amen.
For further reflection on physical bread and Jesus, the Bread of Life:
A Poem: ‘Bread’ by Freda Elton Young
Be gentle when you touch Bread. Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted. So often Bread is taken for granted. There is such beauty in Bread. Beauty of sun and soil, beauty of patient toil. Wind and rain have caressed it. Christ often blessed it. Be gentle when you touch Bread.