[Newsletter article for July 31, 2020 - Faith Lutheran Church in Staples, Minnesota]
…When the tempter came to him, he said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But Jesus answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:3-4 (KJV)
For years, the church has been connected to the agricultural life of the country. Never mind the many rural churches that used to dot the landscape of America’s heartland, or the creation of the church harvest festival by the Reverend Robert Hawker in Morwenstow, England. This essence of agriculture and church mixed into one has a tinge of a melding of life growing together. One feeds the body, the other feeds the soul. One keeps us going day after day, the other reminds us of the One in which we live, and move, and have our being.
August 1st marks the holiday of “Lammas,” the Old English contraction for “Loaf-mass.” It was customary for the faithful to parade to the church on this day bringing loaves of bread and asking for blessing as the beginnings of the wheat harvest were underway. Previously, the church would have blessed the ploughs in January as they began the work of farming in England, and May would have marked Rogation Day in which prayers and blessings were said over the growing fields and the “demons” would have been swept out of the parish by broom-wielding believers.
For us, August 1st marks extraordinarily little uniqueness. Unless it is your birthday, it is just a day. Much of what occupied us in realizing our dependence on the goodness of God given to us in simple things like bread has been lost. We would need to be in a rather rural congregation with a dedicated prayer life that sees fit to do a tractor blessing in the spring and a combine blessing in the fall. But I wonder, as pastor, do we miss something in having removed prayer and blessing from our agricultural life? Is it actually a curse we have brought to our lives by not making known our regular need of what God offers to us? Is not prayer to be this mental decision of our own will to place ourselves before God in need of his abundance? What might change for us if August 1st again became a day to give thanks to God for all the blessings he has given us and to ask him to bring to fruitfulness all our hands have planted, but his creative will has grown?
My prayers for you in these weeks ahead, O Church, is that we might seek the Lord for all we need. That we might see in God our daily bread and the very Word of God we need for the sustenance of our souls. I pray God may offer to you, from his bounty, a daily life of renewal and dependence that places God in the position as being our very life and breath.