Monthly Archives: August 2019

Setting the Table, The Sweetness of God’s Abundance

We are almost to the end of this sermon series, “Setting the Table.” Focusing on Hospitality and some of the food mentioned in the bible has been both fun for me and informative. This week the focus was on figs.

Now what I know about figs revolves around Fig Newtons. I still love those cookies! Fig trees are mentioned in the Bible often enough to be noticed. The parable of the fig tree in Luke is particularly unsettling. Yet in other examples, the fig tree is a sign of abundance and peace.

In her book, Taste and See, Margaret Feinberg does a marvelous job and describing the culture around fig trees, but also the symbolism of their great harvests and longevity. Fig trees produce tens of thousand of figs each year! What a metaphor for our faith and life! During the time with children they were able to taste both fresh figs and dried and of course there was some left over for the adults after the service.

At the end of the children’s time, I gave the children a fig leaf outline and invited them to either draw or write ways they could provide sweetness to the world and to the lives of others. Following worship, I found this:

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You may find the whole worship service here.

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Setting the Table: Salt of the Covenant

Today in our sermon series we focused on “salt.” The most well known passage is from Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Matthew where he states, “You are the salt of the earth.” Now salt is found else where in scripture, and we used the Leviticus passage that spells out the salt of the covenant (which means all offerings needed salt to make them holy for God.)

The salt of the covenant was many things, not the least of which it pointed to God’s loyalty and faithfulness and ongoiingn attempts to be in relationship with God’s chosen people. In the twenty first century we often overlook how special salt is because it is so readily available.

Margaret Feinberg in her book, Taste and See, point out that not so long ago, salt was not so easily available. In ancient times we was used as currency and for the Roman soldiers as part of their sal—ary.

I have an opportunity to visit briefly the underground salt museum Stratica to film a promo AND to interview a lovely docent named Brianna. This is still an active mine, although not the part in which the museum is housed.

For the children’s time, before we blessed the backpacks I had a chance to have our children try and figure out the different salts I had. It wasn’t until I got to the white sea salt that they figured out it was salt…all of it salt: black, red, pink and white. They got to try them too!

Salt is an amazing gift….and a challenge for us to live out our saltiness.

You can the worship service at here.

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Setting the Table: Host of Heaven, Bread of Life

After two weeks focused on hospitality, this week we move to “food.” In her book, Taste and See, Discovering God Amon Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers, Margaret Feinberg invites the reader into a journey that reflects on six different foods in the Bible. I enjoyed this book and pondered it for several weeks.

The chapter on bread has her visiting Andrew McGowarn, the dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale who specializes in ancient bread making. So in worship, using my phone as a timer, we used the recipe for unleavened bread and I began my sermon, but preparing and baking one piece of unleavened bread while I preached.

I had worked all week to be able to make and knead and bake this bread in the prescribed time. You can read more about the timing and the reason for eighteen minutes in her blog post.

Nothing ever goes according to plan. I had the table all laid out….but unlike other times, instead of two cups of water, one with the right amount of liquid and the other with extra if I needed it, I went with a single cup. I fussed a bit with the toaster oven (as it bakes very differently than my convection oven or the church’s professional ovens.) I practiced and practiced. The oven was hot and ready and I got the timer on the oven set so it wouldn’t go off too early.

When it came time to start, instead of pouring a little liquid into the flour, I dumped it all! Oops! I began with a major mistake, fortunately I had plenty of flour to add, but it threw off my timing. I used local, heritage hard winter Turkey Red wheat from a farmer just a few miles away, who grows it, harvests it and grinds it. I am deeply grateful to Serenity Farms for this flour to use today.

Suffice to say, I was really reflecting on the unleavened bread as the bread of both necessity and affliction. When planning this service I had no way of knowing what a horrible violent week it would be. I thought this could be fun and interesting and yes, what I hoped would be profound.

Since last Sunday there have been 32 people who died and 55 wounded (and perhaps more since this morning.) In less than 24 hours the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have stunned us yet again. And this is not downplaying the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last Sunday. It seemed appropriate we were not using the sweet hawaiian bread for the sacrament of Holy Communion, instead, we ate the bread of affliction and the bread necessity which is the bread of Passover and the bread that Jesus used for that last supper. I baked it all this week, along with gluten free unleavened bread.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the bread came out finished in 18 minutes! You can find the whole worship service here. There sermon begins about 32: 51 (but listening to Cindy Dantic Watson on the violin and Brett Valliant on piano is treat!)

 

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