"He told His disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost'" (John 6:12).
The Society of St. Andrew estimates that, as of this week, over 77 billion pounds of food have been wasted in our country since January 1. The Small Catechism makes it personal by instructing us to ask the question, "Have I wasted anything?" (see under Confession).
The Feeding of the Five Thousand is recorded by all Four Evangelists. On the one hand, we learn a lesson about trusting God to provide. On the other hand, we learn a lesson about not being wasteful. And these two hands should be folded together in prayer.
Luther preached, "Our Lord desires waste as little as He wants despair and worry, desiring that we opt for the middle course, that is, trust Him and carefully husband what is left over. The well-known proverb still obtains: Waste not, want not!"
It applies to other things too, such as money, mind, talent, time, and God's Word (most of all). Gifts of God not to be wasted!
But focus, as does our Lord, on food. I asked my mother and sister to write down some fun tips on how to waste not. Let me give three of them to get us thinking:
Don't throw that Hershey's chocolate sauce bottle away. Fill it halfway up with milk, shake, and pour yourself a nice glass of chocolate milk.
Old bread or crusts? Toss it in a bag and put in the freezer. Take it to the park to feed the ducks.
Buffet night. Before your weekly grocery shopping trip, pull out the bowls of leftovers from the fridge, that last apple, the box of crackers that's almost gone, and get creative. Top it off with a special, not leftover, dessert!
And I would add that children should be taught to clean their plates, and to throw nothing away from their school lunches.
In so doing, we learn to remember that our heavenly Father feeds us out of love, and not to take that for granted but to thank Him for it from all our hearts.