Rev. George Miller
1 Kings 17:8-16
“Bread from Heaven ”
June 6, 2010
(Sermon is done from the voice of the widow’s son, giving a school presentation.)
Mrs. Crabtree! Mrs. Crabtree! I’ll be right there. Hold on. (Enter, dressed as a kid with backpack.)
Hi. My name is Francis Panera and for my show and tell today I want to talk about this (places Jiffy box and oil on table. Nervous laugh).
(Looking to side)Tommy! Stop making me laugh.
Like I said, I will tell you how this mix and this oil kept me and my Momma alive and taught us about God. Tommy! Mrs. Crabtree, tell Tommy to stop making faces at me!
Ok, so, Momma says that before I was born, her and Daddy used to have a lot of money. Not a lot a lot like Iron Man, but more then Spiderman.
Daddy was from Michigan and he worked for Chry, he worked for Chry, he worked for Chrysler Motor Company. And business was good.
So good he moved down here to open his own dealership, and that’s how he and Momma met. They had a big house and a fancy car they drove all over Sebring.
They had me, and Momma said that for awhile life was good. She told me my favorite thing to do was go with her and Daddy to Mcdonald’s for a Happy Meal.
But then things weren’t so good. People stopped buying Chryslers and instead they were buying something called Hyundais and Toyotas, and Dad lost the business.
Momma said it broke Daddy’s heart and one day he had a heart attack and died, leaving Momma and me alone, in our big house.
Momma said that for awhile things were OK, but soon they weren’t and she had to cut coupons, then she had to stop going to the booty parlor, and then she had to start selling off her jewl, her jewl, her jewelry. Momma used to have a diamond this big on her finger. But she sold it.
The grass in our yard grew long, the windows stayed broke, I couldn’t go to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.
She tried to get a job, but no one would hire her, not even Publix. Momma even had to sell Daddy’s car. Then she got a job picking fruit and she rode there in an old bike she had found. She didn’t like what she was doing, saying it was a job for migrants not debutantes. Whatever that is.
But then this winter got really cold and Momma stopped working. Then it stopped raining.
So there hasn’t been a lot of food or Happy Meals.
One day I asked Momma why we don’t go on welfare; she said that was for lazy people and she ain’t lazy. But that week our electric was shut off.
So I asked Mom how come no one was helping us. She said because no one could know about our situation, and I was to not tell anyone else either, if I knew what was coming to me. Then our food right near ran out.
So I asked Mom how come the church can’t help us. She said “Church! Ha! There is no God!” And because I went to bed hungry, I stopped believing in God too.
That’s why, Mrs. Crabtree, I’ve been so fidgety. I don’t mean to be bad, it’s just that I am so hungry.
For a long time, all Momma and I had to eat was canned food like Spam and hash. But then one day it was all gone and all we had was a box of Jiffy corn-bread and a little bit of oil.
That day I woke up real early, with a big pain in my belly. I heard Mom crying and I when I got up I saw her on her knees and talking to someone who was not there.
She was saying “Please, if you can hear me, help me. All my son and I have left is a bit of oil and a box of mix. After we eat that, we will surely die.”
That scared me. I went back to bed and pretended to be asleep. Momma woke me up for school and she told me to be good and that she was going out to prepare for that night’s dinner.
Because Momma was too proud to let anyone know about our situation she would ride her bike to where Sebring and Lake Placid meet and she’d gather sticks to burn in the fire place, and cook our food in a skillet. (Deep inhale)
I had a real bad day at school, wondering what Momma meant about how we would eat it and die. That was the day I was sent to the principal’s office for not following instructions. Do you remember Mrs. Crabtree?
Anyhow, when I got home, things were different. First of all, Momma was singing. Second, there was a strange man in the living room. He had lots of hair, all over his arms and legs, like a monkey.
And he was eating cornbread. I was real angry at first. That was supposed to be my food. My stomach rumbled like it was 24 Hours at Sebring.
Momma introduced me to him, said his name was Eli, Elij, Elijah. His name was Elijah, and he said “pleased to meatcha” and there were bits of cornbread stuck in his mustache.
I asked Momma what was going on, but she said “Sit down dear” and next thing I knew, she was coming back with a whole pan full of cornbread.
“Eat up dear” she said. I asked what about her and she said there was more left over. I looked at her funny like.
But I was so hungry I ate real, real fast, not caring who this strange man was. He laughed and Momma came back with another pan of corn bread, and this time everyone had a piece.
And you know what? It was really nice. Sitting there with Momma, Elijah and warm bread.
We sat and talked and he told us that he was a prophet of God, and that he was on the run from some people because and it was because of their actions that it was not raining.
As Elijah talked I thought how cool it was to have a man in the house, and that night I went to sleep with a full belly and a feeling that things were going to be alright.
I woke up the next day and guess what? Guess what? I said guess what? Elijah and Momma were at the table, smiling, and there was more cornbread. I asked where it came from and all Elijah said was “God provides.”
I went to school and for the first time got a gold star, do you remember Mrs. Crabtree?
So, even though it still hadn’t rained, and Momma had no job, we kept having food to eat.
But not just that: Elijah began fixing things around the house, like the leaky roof and the broken window and he mowed the lawn.
At night he told tell me and Momma about God and the amazing things God had done like create the world out of nothing and give the Israelites bread from heaven.
“Just like us!” I said.
Elijah said “Just like you.”
Know what the best part was? One day I came home and Elijah had a football and asked me if I knew how to play. I said no, so he showed me how to throw, and catch and how to run.
One day I got real sick, like really really sick; that’s when I missed a whole week Mrs. Crabtree. But Elijah prayed over me and did not leave my side until I got better. I thought “This must be what it’s like to have a daddy.”
Well, day after day that one box of corn-bread mix and that little bit of oil seemed to feed us, and I don’t know how, but I didn’t mind, because for the first time in a long time my belly was full, Momma was happy and neither of us were alone.
God, through Elijah, was giving us a vacation from our poverty, and in that vacation we found hope, and in hope we found new possa, new possa, new possibilities.
Our neighbors began talking with us, and people would drop things off, like casseroles and cookies and people began offering us rides to church.
I think once people stopped seeing Momma as an outsider they felt more comfortable talking with her, and I think the more people talked with her the less ashamed she felt about needing help.
One day I came back from school and Elijah was gone. I asked Momma were he went and she said his time with us was over and he had other people to visit, but, just as he had promised us, God would make sure our food would not run out.
I was real sad for awhile, wondering why he left. But then one day it began to rain, and rain, and rain, and rain and rain, and Momma was so happy, and we went out and danced in the raindrops.
Then she got a phone call from her old boss: the rain meant the blueberries would soon be ready for picking and they needed her help.
Even though it was hard work, Momma was so happy to have a job again. She’d come home tired and her hands all purple, and she’d pull some fresh berries out of her pocket.
She even planted a garden and began to grow her own vegetables. One day she dug up a carrot, bit into it and said “As God is my witness I will never go hungry again.”
And she has followed through on her promise. Not only is Momma working now, but we have something called a social worker who makes sure we are OK, we have food and our bills are paid.
Momma is still friends with the neighbors and they bring us casseroles filled with meat and fish and cheese, and sometimes they’ll drive us to the local pantry or to appointments.
I can’t tell you how that box of Jiffy corn bread mix and that little bit of oil lasted. From time to time ask Momma, but she just winks at me and says “God finds ways to provide.”
You can say it was a miracle and God had the mix and oil magically refill itself. But do you wanna know what I think happened? Do you really wanna know?
I think that perhaps Elijah found ways to bring food into our house. Or that once the neighbors saw us as a family they felt more inclined to open their hearts. Or that Elijah helped Momma realize that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.
Or maybe it was all those things, or it was none of those things.
All I know is that once we were hungry and about to die, and because of Elijah and his promise from God we never went without our daily bread.
And what I learned and why I brought this in today for show and tell is to say that not only do I believe in God, but I believe that God is a God of life.
That God cares about the outsiders, the poor, those without a Daddy and those without a husband.
And I believe that in God there is enough. Maybe not a McDonald’s Happy Meal every single day, like I would want, but enough to give you what you need, when you need it.
Thank you for letting me share with you my story during show and tell, and I give thanks to the Spirit that falls like rain, to Jesus who was poor just like me and to God who gives us bread from heaven.
Amen and amen.