Bread – Crumbs

February 2, 2015


Readings for Monday, February 2, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 51:17-23; Gal. 4:1-11; Mark 7:24-37; Psalms 56,57,58,64,65

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There once was a coffeecake. And it was delicious. And then someone ate it, someone who came before. And the plate was empty except for a few crumbs from the edges. The somewhat burnt, sugary crumbs of edge which taste really good. And you took your finger, wet it so the crumbs would stick, circled the plate with your finger so that no crumb would go to waste, and tasted the crumbs.

Who reading this would refuse the crumbs left on the plate from the coffeecake, although the substance of the coffeecake is gone? We all know the story of the coffeecake, because once it is eaten, the crumbs are left and many people, perhaps even you, consider the crumbs the best part. They are the pieces with crystalline sugar, unburdened by the cake part. They are the thing which crunch rather than mash. Whereas most people will ignore the crumbs, you who are a connoisseur of coffeecake know that the best parts, the crumbs, have been left behind by those who do not know that the best part is what is left over.

In today’s newspaper, there was an article about the fact that our country has become so rich, that we forget that, relatively recently, even if you had a house you were still poor. More than one pair of shoes was a luxury. Your own telephone line was almost unheard of. We ate everything on our plate because to not do so would cause us to go hungry. Clothes were mended because they had to last. Going out to dinner to a restaurant was something that you did extremely rarely, because who had the money to waste on such frivolity?

When you are filled up with coffeecake, you tend to leave the crumbs. When you have nothing, the crumbs not only look tasty, they are tasty. The person who eats the entire coffeecake is rarely grateful for any portion of it, except maybe to say “thank you” to the cook, if you remember. On the other hand, the person who is left the crumbs is thankful for even that.

In today’s reading from Mark’s gospel, a Gentile has asked Jesus to heal her little daughter from an unclean spirit. Jesus responds, “Let the children [Jews] be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mk. 7:27 Rather than take on an air of righteous indignation at being called a “dog” or not being counted as one of the children, the Gentile woman is more focused on the blessings of the crumbs than on the feast of the cake and says to Him “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mk. 7:28. Jesus responds to this simple act of faith and thanksgiving with a message – “…go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Mk. 7:29

There are many people today who are greatly blessed and who may not appear, from our vantage point, to deserve it. They may be crooks, vagabonds, hard cases, tough negotiators, fighters, and just plain difficult. From our perspective, these people eat the cake and they may be (or only appear to be) favored by God.

The truth is that we may be in position to only get the crumbs of life. We may be the dogs of society, the rejected, the dejected, the lost, the lonely, the suffering, the poor. We may feel put upon and perhaps we actually are.

Perhaps we are in a position where all we will see are the crumbs of life. And, yet, if from a heart of poverty we see the blessings of the crumbs, isn’t each one of them tasty? Isn’t each crumb fallen from the plate of another a piece of gold in our lives if we but have the heart of gratefulness, of gratitude, of love, and of honesty to accept it? Isn’t it really true that, given our rebellious spirit and our fundamental sinfulness and selfishness, that we are fortunate indeed to even get the crumbs?

And yet, ask yourself something from our lesson today …. The woman’s daughter was healed – is this a crumb?

We have been saved by grace. Is this a crumb? We have been blessed with this new day, full of opportunity and life, if we will but seize it. Is this a crumb? We have eaten. Is this a crumb?

Compared to what many people have in this world, what we have eaten today is a crumb. Our opportunities which are realistically open to us may appear to be even less than a crumb.

But are they crumbs or are they great gifts, great blessings?

Or are they both?

We have a choice today. That choice is to take the crumbs of life which have been given to us and to see them in one of two ways. The first way is to see them for what they really are – leftovers — not even first fruits, but leftovers. The second way is to see them for what they really are – blessings — more than first fruits because they are made by God and not by man.

Your choice today is to see the world from either what you don’t have or from what you do have. God’s choice, His gift, is to give to us anyway, in spite of our attitude about it.

Which choice do you think honors God? Which choice do you think brings God glory? It is one thing to make a tasty cake – it is another to take the leftovers and turn them into the best parts.

God is in the business of giving the dogs good things. After all, he took us in our filthy rags as sinners and gave us adoption as sons. If that isn’t taking a crumb and turning it into something special, I don’t know what is. Thanks be to God!

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© 2015 GBF

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