Homily – Food for thought

August 9th, 2020 by admin-su



On the surface of it, the readings this morning are mostly about food.

Food is high on the agenda and Distributing the ‘community food share’ is something high on our agenda to as part of our support and outreach at the moment. During this time it has been a privilege to get to know complete strangers from our community and chat with them over this increasingly important need for some – food. It has also been a bit educational and fun hearing the different dishes that people can make out of some of the goods.

What came to mind when praying for some of those individuals and then reflecting on the passages for today along with the fact that so many are struggling financially, was the scene in the orphanage in the musical film, Oliver, where it’s meal time and all the orphans sing the well known song Food, Glorious Food.

You may remember to where in the the song they imagine all sorts of exotic dishes when in reality all they get is gruel. One particular line sums it up saying Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food wonderful food, marvellous Food, glorious food. Food is pretty high up on most people’s agenda, but for those who don’t have enough, it’s always on their mind.

I suspect that hunger was a problem in Isaiah’s day and so he writes this, essentially telling the people that they can have all they want for free: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. (Isaiah 55.1-2 NLT) And the people would probably have been familiar with our psalm which proclaims “The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. (Psalm 145.15-16 NLT)

The psalmist claims that God provides; Isaiah seems to confirm that – and yet hunger has been a constant problem both then and now. And our gospel is the account of Jesus feeding over 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And everybody ate their fill and they collected a dozen baskets of leftovers. Food, glorious food, indeed.

But these readings aren’t just about satisfying our physical hunger. They are actually about spiritual food and spiritual health. In The Message version of that Isaiah reading this is brought out more saying “Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.” (Isaiah 55.3)

To my mind the key words are life-nourishing words. We hear something like that early on in the Book of Deuteronomy which Jesus reaffirms telling Satan People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4.4 NLT)

Yes we need bread and all the other physical foods we enjoy, but to experience the full life that Jesus promises we need God’s Word in our lives. Without the one we wither and die physically – without the other we wither and die spiritually. Eventually we will all die physically, so let’s ensure that we stay spiritually alive by consuming healthy portions of God’s Word. Not just reading it as ‘Job done’ for the day and tick the box, but asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what we need to really understand it, understand it that it ‘feeds us’

There are of course alternatives to God’s Word and unfortunately we can become hooked on them. In that reading from Isaiah in The Message we read “Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?” (Isaiah 55.2) We have seen how addicting junk food can be and the spiritual version of junk food can be equally addicting.

What, you may wonder, is spiritual junk food?

There are many varieties including: horoscopes, trashy novels, ‘girlie or adult’ magazines, etc.

But spiritual junk food isn’t just printed matter, it can include TV shows such as Love Island or I’m A Celebrity or Big Brother or some of the trashy so-called comedy shows such as Young Offenders.

I don’t know what the American equivalent is but I’m sure there is one. If we fill our bellies on junk food it changes us and makes us unhealthy – if we fill our minds with spiritual junk food that also changes us in a most unhealthy way. And that can also be the spiritual junk food of focussing on the negative, the critical, all pat of the unhealthy junk food we feed from. Soon Jesus’ command to love goes out the window it becomes all about ME. – we’ve all been there!

We are constantly being reminded about the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet and that can even include the occasional decadent pastry. Our spirits also require a well-balanced diet; that should include Bible reading and prayer but it can also include a good novel or biography. It can include Songs of Praise on the TV as well as a good drama or documentary. Avoid the junk at all costs, both printed or visual, because that can be a slippery slope into unknown territory. But how serious are we about the scriptures, do we go to them each day praying for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us on whatever passage we are reading, or do we know them in a way we can turn to them to feed and strengthen us through our darkest time, Jesus through one of his many challenging times faces the devil himself in the desert he had fasted – gone without any physical sustenance for 40 days and satan tests him, ‘if you are the son of god turn these stones into bread’ Jesus even though hungry replies, ‘it is written man shall not live o bread alone (physical) but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mtt 4:3-4)Jesus knew where to turn to for his sustenance.

A couple of weeks ago we heard the psalmist proclaim “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119-105) In these dark times we need all the illumination we can get to find our way. Let’s keep our path well lit with good spiritual nourishment instead of stumbling around in the dark because we consume spiritual junk food.