Preparing for Advent: Daily Potatoes

By Emily Bingham

Advent Devotional

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. —John 6:48-51

When reflecting on the semester I spent studying abroad in college, I’m quick to remember the gifts God lavished on me during those few short months. I experienced God’s goodness in real and profound ways during that semester in Scotland.

I also remember the potatoes.

In the grand dining room of University Hall, that castle-like residence I called home in my picturesque town on the North Sea, nary a meal went by that didn’t include some form of potato. Chips, crisps, jacket potatoes, potato cakes, potato scones, potato pies—they served them all. You name it, we ate it. I often joked that every main course was a potato with a side of potato—and everyone knows the funniest jokes are the ones that are true. And the truth is that the humble potato sustained this American during four cold, damp months in Scotland. It was my manna in the wilderness.

Remember the manna?

Recorded for us in Exodus 16 is the remarkable story of God sending bread from heaven to sustain the Israelites as they grumble in the desert. As they wander the space between slavery in Egypt and rest in the Promised Land, wavering between faithfulness and disobedience, God provides. Is this not the story of our lives as well?

We, too, wander in the in-between. Striving for faithfulness and all too often missing the mark, we live our days in the wilderness that is this fallen world. Finding our life in Jesus Christ, we are freed from slavery to sin and death, yet we grumble. All that’s been promised is not yet fulfilled, and we are not satisfied.

As we wait this Advent season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that we await His coming even now. Our souls long for that Second Advent. We yearn for ultimate rest in a different sort of Promised Land, as we await the coming of a new heaven and a new earth—the restoration of all things.

And thanks be to God, we receive more than manna to sustain us in our waiting! Even this miraculous manna from heaven, Jesus points out, ultimately could not sustain God’s people. An entire generation missed out on all the milk and honey, dying without ever stepping foot in the Promised Land. But Jesus, this Bread of Life sent from heaven, offers something better: Himself.

“What is it?” is surpassed with “I Am.”

Emily Bingham ministers to students at Lorain County Community College through a partnership with Avon United Methodist Church. She is also Interim Midwest Area Leader, serving CCO staff in Ohio and Indiana.