This First Sunday in Lent we will focus on the experience of offering first fruits of the harvest and sharing food with the widow, orphan and sojourner as prescribed in Deuteronomy 26: 1-11. We will focus on the sense of TASTE. There will be opportunity following worship to take pictures with a large poster of Kalvin Michael Smith calling for justice in his case. (Information will be provided in the service.) We will share in Holy Communion at the close of worship.
Certainly the Bible is filled with references to the sweetness of God’s Word, the sweetness of the Holy One’s goodness. Manna in the wilderness is described as having the taste of coriander seed with honey. John of Patmos is instructed to put down his pen and rip into the Word with tooth and tongue, a taste sweet to the mouth but bitter to the stomach.
I ponder a life of seeking to follow Jesus of Nazareth — in all his gracious up-ending attention to unity and inclusivity — as perhaps the taste of umami. Umami can be overwhelming, but it is sort of the leavening taste, bringing color and interest to other flavors. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent fall crocking kraut and cucumbers. Or loving the sprinkle of nutritional yeast on popcorn. Maybe it’s because I’m enjoying the latest gift of homemade kimchi from one of our community members. But it strikes me we are called to be the umami of the earth: humble, tenacious, texturing servants of love. Perhaps a counter-palate to the saccharinizing of so much of what is sold as spiritual.
Something about umami takes me to the backyard of my childhood and the irresistible pica urge to taste fertile loam. Perhaps there is something deep inside us, covered over by so many other flavors, calling us home. Perhaps it calls us back to be the earth-creatures we are created to be. With a pop of glutamate to zap us to attention, we turn toward our connection to all the sweaty essentials of life.