He bends low behind the counter, out of sight, breathing over the embers still aglow under the freshly added bits of kindling, urging the coals back to living flame. The breath of life, lighting the fire that will heat the water to draw out the flavor and richness of the dark, dry tea leaves. Boiling water poured over dried leaves, the only way to really release the aroma, making it black and strong and smooth.
Fresh new flame licks up over the wood grain, catching, burning, heating. He straightens, waits patiently, bends low again, slowing stirring, feeding, confidant in the work of the coals. He sets the pot over the freshly ignited flame and watches for the rolling steam to signal the fruit of his labors.
He sets out the tea cups on little white saucers, pours in the syrupy thick sweetened condensed milk, adds a bit more sugar and stands the tiny spoons against the edge, all poised to receive the richness of the tea. The wait does not disappoint. Tea, made to perfection, served with grace and a smile and a piece of sweet bread, just right to dunk into, to soak up the tea.
He does this all on a Monday morning. Every Monday morning and many mornings in between.
And on Sunday morning he stands behind the same tea counter and he serves up a different kind of bread – the Living Bread. True Bread. And Living Water.
Hungry hearts open wide to receive, soaking in the Word. Pages rustle as hands hurry to follow along. They drink deep of the Living Water, feast rich on the Living Word and they bow low in worship and raise holy hands in praise.
He casts Bread upon the Waters, believing the Word when He says that it will not return void. He prays multiplication upon the Bread, upon the Water. He prays for many souls to find the True and Living Bread, to find Water that will quench the everlasting thirst.
He serves tea so he can put bread on the table for hungry children. He grows grain to feed the many dependent on him. And he trusts the Bread-giver for the breath to light the flame in the hearts that beat after Him.
He serves Bread and Water so that hungry souls may eat and drink. He plants Seeds so that later there will be a harvest – a harvest that he may never see. He has faith in what is not yet visible, in what could be and what may well be.
He trusts the Breath of Life to breathe the little flame into a wildfire. He trusts the Miracle Worker to transform his five loaves and two fishes into enough to feed the multitude.
He teaches how to serve the Bread and the Water. The Bread already returning, multiplied.
He lives with hands stretched wide, believing that anything and everything that God places in those hands is a true and beautiful gift, and anything and everything that God chooses to retrieve from those hands is a true and beautiful gift back to the Giver.
He faithfully serves tea. And Bread. He is fruitful. He multiplies. He reaps a Harvest now. And he believes in the Harvest yet to come.