The smell of baking bread graced the house yesterday. I say ‘graced’ since its promise is of something wholesome, with authentic taste, something to get the juices going in anticipation of the feast to come.
It was my custom in parish ministry to bake a bread-loaf for the first Sunday of the month, when all our churches met together as one, to celebrate Holy Communion together. (That is, those whose duty and joy it was to attend, and not those who said ‘the service is not in our village this morning- I’ll have a day off’). I loved, and still do, the symbolism of one bread, broken in many pieces; something fresh, wholeness, authentic, promising a feast to come.
Which is why I shall, from time to time in retirement, provide a fresh loaf when I celebrate Communion here, as I shall do today. Yes, it takes time to make; yes, it’s messy on the altar as crumbs tend to be made- small wafers don’t leave this problem; yes, it’s different, and goodness knows, there are plenty in the church who don’t like change. But for those who are prepared to go with it, it offers, I believe, new insights into what Jesus means when he says ‘I am the bread of life’.
After all, as Christians, we are ‘companions on the way’, and the heart of ‘companion’ is com –‘with’, panis- ‘bread’; someone I eat bread, a meal, with; share something filling, satisfying, tasty. I think of Jesus, in the Easter readings making himself known to two disciples at Emmaus as they recognised his actions and intention as he blessed bread, eating with them.
Be known to us in breaking bread, and do not then depart; Saviour, abide with us, and set, thy table in our hearts.- as the old hymn has it.
(no blog next Sunday; normal service resumes on Sunday 22nd)