Flour. Oil. Water. Salt.
Four ingredients. That’s all it takes to make matzah.
Matzah can be made quickly. It is the food of the Passover, the final meal before leaving Egypt (Mitzrayim: the narrow place), in haste. Matzah reminds us of God’s provision to go forth from the place of enslavement we thought we would be stuck in forever.
Matzah is a bread without extras. It is a word rooted in matsas, meaning to drain out. It doesn’t have yeast or nuts or sugar- it contains only the simplest of nourishment. Matzah separates our wants from our needs- and gives us what we need.
Matzah is a reminder of what is essential. It invites us to think about the bread what kind of bread we are hungry for.
In Hebrew, the word for bread is lechem, rooted in lacham- to battle or go to war.
How often does our hunger lead us to the bread of war? To the scarcity mindset that says we have to fight for our provision? That there are only so many pieces of the pie? That there isn’t enough to go around? That our wants are our needs? That we need more, and have to take up arms or push for control in order to have it?
Matzah is a different kind of bread.
“You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat matzah, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.” - Deuteronomy 16:3
Matzah is not the bread of war- it is the bread of anah- affliction, humility, or poverty. Matzah is a bread that tells us we don’t have to join the powers that fight for more- we can join those that leave in faith that the bread we have is enough.
Matzah asks us to examine the cost of living in the narrow places of oppression- and to remember that there is another way. That God is inviting us to freedom. That we can trust that we will be given what we need. That humans do not need to be treated as commodities or barriers. That there is enough provision to go around.
When the Messiah comes, Luke tells us he is born in Bethlehem- the house of bread. But he is born into poverty. His life, even from the very beginning, challenges us with a question: what kind of bread will I build my house upon?
The day before his death, that same Messiah eats a Passover meal...
“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’” - Mark 14:22
Jesus holds up matzah, the bread of humility, and says, “This is me. Eat this bread.” Join me in remembering what is essential. Be fed from my example. Ingest a way of being that refuses to treat humans as anything other than beloved. Don’t fight for bread with the oppressors. Take this bread and walk out with me as we liberate the oppressed.
As we continue to celebrate Easter, may we honor Jesus by chewing on the bread he offers. Let’s continue to celebrate with the delicious food around our table. But instead of being numbed by the excess, let’s let the flavors of freedom fill our mouths. Let’s offer generosity. Let’s risk walking away from power. Let’s wonder how we can all take another step towards freedom and flourishing for all.