Before I finish my weekly message, I have to pause and give thanks for the life of one with whom I broke bread and considered one of the finest holy troublemakers of our time, Rev. Dr. Wayne Schwandt. He died on May 5, 2015. His ministry at UCCA, Evolve, continues to bring the message he ardently championed in our community: that you are not original sinners, but originally blessed. Wayne brought joy at the joyful times, quiet and focus and the quiet times, and prayer at the praying times. He helped our wider community heal and love LGBTQ and HIV+ people, questioning stigmas and hate not with strident challenges, but a steadfast love that resembled a bear hug (which he sometimes gave). He challenged my traditional theology to see the world as a gift, and ourselves as stewards of that gift, celebrating "creation spirituality" rather than focusing on human misgivings. Wayne, although you have been gone from us for nearly two years, I continue to be amazed from what I keep learning from you. Chuck (Wayne's husband), you are never far from my prayers.
"You are what you eat," a kid told me. I immediately tried to comprehend how I was a hot dog, relish, bun, and tater tots. It would be weird if we simply morphed into whatever it was that we ate - and it'd be likely that we were fairly conscious of what we ate in that case, lest we wind up as some sort of cross between a cauliflower casserole and lemon meringue. Thankfully, we don't. But perhaps we do represent and carry with us the food that we eat: all the processes of life that have unfolded to bring each tiny morsel into our mouths are forever carried with us. This means that if we eat something that came from harmful farming or human labor practices, perhaps we're carrying that harm with us, too. But, we shouldn't get all wrapped up in guilt about that.
In her book Grace at Table, Donna Schaper, pastor of Judson Memorial Church in New York City, reminds us that the food we eat is a miracle. All food is a miracle! No matter how it got to you or what its history is, it is a miracle. If we start with food as a miracle, we can begin to develop a certain reverence for it. We start to care about the food itself: where it came from, how it got here, and why we cannot let it go to waste. Perhaps just as importantly, we start to also care about the company we share it with: friends, family, co-workers, strangers sitting next to us on the bus as we wolf down a Chalupa.
As we gather on Sunday, we'll reflect on how the Holy Troublemakers - the disciples - regained their spiritual resolve and practice by "breaking bread" and sharing meals together. As they focused on the miracle of breaking bread, I think this simple practice opened them up to the miracle of the world around them. It's not hard for us to do, either. Try it this morning. Or afternoon. Go ahead: see your food as a miracle.
See you Sunday, and feel free to bring a friend. We'll be welcoming over a dozen new members, too.