“Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.”
— The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
Lembas, also called Elven bread or Waybread, was a special travel food made by the elves, as we learn in Tolkien’s epic fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings”. The bread was very nutritious and used on long journeys, when traveling light was a necessity. It was described as being light brown on the outside, cream-colored on the inside, and baked thin and crisp. It was very special for the elves to gift outsiders with their waybread, as they do with the hobbit Frodo Baggins and his company, to be used on their quest to destroy the One Ring, a very powerful evil artifact.
Lembas does indeed sustain Frodo, and those accompanying him, through terrible dangers on their long journey, giving them the strength to go on. Even a crumb of Lembas has the ability to revive and fortify. The waybread surely contributes greatly to the success of Frodo’s mission, with good triumphing over evil.
In Sunday’s scripture lesson from John 6:32-34, Jesus says, “‘…it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
I sometimes think of the bread we share in Holy Communion as waybread for the journey of life. The blessed bread feeds our spiritual hunger. Its taste reminds us of whose we are and what is important in life—to love and to serve. We are strengthened and sustained to deal with challenges we face that are sometimes as evil as orcs and as seemingly impossible as a trip across desolate wasteland and over snow-clad mountains. It will sustain you when all else fails.
This bread for the journey of life is available to you each Sunday in worship here at Christ Congregational Church this summer. Come and be fed!
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ