“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” ~ Jesus
Some of my most memorable experiences of going to church centered around meeting and munching during fellowship hour …chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, macaroons, fruit cakes and cupcakes, hot cross buns, homemade breads, rhubarb crumbles, strudels, and many more irresistible delicacies. Every congregation always seemed to have a couple of master chefs.
Somewhere I read that the reason restaurants give away bread before eating is to slow down kitchen orders and stop the chef from being inundated with orders.
At church bread is a staple; homemade breads and yeast rolls show up at potluck dinners; garlic bread accompanies every spaghetti dinner fundraiser; scrumptious loaves of bread show up on the altar for communion.
Jesus knew about bread. It seems that every time he turned around, the disciples were hungry or they were worried about crowds that were hungry.
So, Jesus sends them to town for food, while he teaches a foreign woman about the living water that always quenches thirsty souls. Or, he has them gather up a few leftover loaves of bread and fish so that he can create a feast for many.
Jesus trusted in the bread. But sometimes, his disciples didn’t seem to understand the deep significance of what he meant. Maybe they were thinking it was about the potluck dinner, the hungry crowd getting a good meal, or their Jewish ancestors receiving a good breakfast each morning as they wandered in the wilderness.
Jesus corrects the disciples who are only focused on the bread that perishes, the bread that goes stale, the bread that falls if not properly leavened, and the bread that never seems to go far enough to feed the hungry world.
Jesus spells it out when he tells the disciples what he told that foreign woman beside a well in Samaria: “God gives you the true bread from heaven. ... I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Unlike restaurants, we share the bread not to keep from being inundated with orders but to invite all. Jesus trusted the bread—not of this earth, but of heaven, the nourishment of God. This is the bread that feeds and nourishes our hungry souls, the bread that never goes stale, the bread that always satisfies and never disappoints. For this is the bread of life, the bread of God’s love, the reminder of Christ’s presence on this earth and the Holy Spirit’s ongoing presence in our lives.
When we allow Christ’s love to flow freely through us, Christ unites with us in ministry and mission, nourishing us and others so that we can be the body of Christ, the arms and legs, hands and feet, head and heart of God’s presence here on earth.
~ Adapted from Mary Scifres Ministries