When I first showed my colleagues the cover of this issue of Wheaton magazine, someone said, “Is it food?” You may be wondering the same thing.
It is not. It’s a photograph of soap bars that were beautifully crafted by Chelsea Medic, a 2014 graduate of Wheaton College. The soap’s ingredients include fair trade coffee harvested in Tanzania, olive pomace oil, and coconut oil. While there are edible ingredients, it isn’t food.
It’s easy to understand why my colleagues would have mistaken the soap for food. It looks edible. There’s something luxurious, even indulgent about its appearance. “I want to eat it,” they said. Maybe it has something to do with the Christmas season. Visions of sugar plums dance in our heads. We get hungry.
Food isn’t on the cover, but it is inside. You’ll find an article about Wheaton alumni working creatively with food to “nourish the common good.” The piece about the concert hall project, though not about food, considers how the new facility will feed new levels of creativity on campus. There’s plenty more here to savor.
The contents of this issue are tasty, but only morsels, like a young boy's handful of loaves and a couple of fish when confronted with a crowd. It was after Jesus had fed that crowd from the boy’s meager offering, that the people rushed on the supposed miracle-worker or manna-maker for more of what he’d produced. And he named their desire: they came to him because they had eaten their fill of bread. Their stomachs had been satisfied, but this would surely not be enough. True nourishment wouldn’t come from this meal or the next. He said, Don’t work for the food that dies, but for the food that endures to eternal life.
Even in the excesses of our elongated holiday season—a time of presents and joy and carols and coziness and food—we remain hungry for a food that truly nourishes. Yet what we want to consume, like the soap on our cover, is not always edible.
And here, Jesus says, Take, eat; I am the bread of life.
While I hope this issue of the magazine leaves you nourished, may you ever be filled more abundantly with the true food, and with it may your heart be filled with joy and strength.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.
Psalm 104:14–15 ESV