Often overlooked, Thanksgiving is passed on for more money-making holidays like Christmas and Halloween when stores rake in the dollars. On this Thanksgiving, I think of the man known as The Gingerbread Man.
Born in Germany in 1720, Christopher Ludwick grew up in a bakery. He learned the trade and for a time served as a soldier in the German army. Christopher returned to baking after fighting the Turks only to discover that while serving as a soldier his father had passed away.
His father left him a silver medallion. An engraving on one side showed John baptizing Jesus and these words: The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from all sin (1 John1:7). On the other side, Ezekiel 16 said: I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, live. Ludwick kept the coin with him on his travels. In 1754, he set up a bakery in America specializing in Gingerbread. At the time of the Revolutionary War, Ludwick and his wife “had some wealth.” He joined the fight for freedom, elected to the delegation of Pennsylvania between 1774-1776. Ludwick paid 200 pounds to buy guns for the troops. This spurred others on the delegation to pass the resolution to buy the guns.
Ludwick told stories of his oppression in Germany in comparison to the freedoms he enjoyed in America. He served as a spy and later congress appointed him superintendent of bakers (baker general) for the army. The army suffered shortages in food. They ate one pound a bread a day and often inedible bread. A philanthroper and generous to a fault, Ludwick died on June 17, 1801. His charities continue today through the University of Pennsylvania, several churches, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and Guardians of the Poor. The Christopher Ludwick foundation, “continues to educate the poor children from any nation or background.”
Whether it’s washing dishes for church, setting up, tearing down, serving communion, or mowing the lawn, the small things we do in secret will be rewarded openly and give us the most joy. Baking served Ludwick well, heightening the spirits of the soldiers even during the winter of Valley Forge.
So when you pass the bread today think of what small things your contributions can do to encourage the bigger things. Not all of us can shine in the spotlight; some of us are meant to serve in the background and their service encourages those of us who have witnessed their so-called meager sacrifice. There’s no glory in saying, “I mow the lawn for church.” It sounds so much better to say, “I feed the poor.” There’s no glory in saying, “I made a plate of cookies for my neighbor.” More glory goes to those who serve causes that, while noteworthy and meaningful, seem to diminish other also good causes that desperately need volunteers. We all have different gifts and baking bread was Christopher Ludwick’s legacy.
Whatever service you serve at church, please write a prayer for that ministry here.