Thursday, March 26, 2009
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, they will live forever. The bread which I give is my flesh. I will give this for the life of the whole world." John 6:51
There is nothing more dangerous or inviting to me than the smell of a bakery, the smell of fresh baked bread. When I was a child, my mother used to make bread, sometimes dozens of loaves at a time for a church function. There was nothing like diving into a still warm loaf and slathering each gobbled piece with butter. I love to bake bread and our daughter, Emily (her birthday is today!) loves to bake bread too. There is something about the texture and the kneading, moving something into a silky smooth ball which will erupt with life that is inspiring and challenging. There have been times when a particular loaf or recipe didn't work out so well, or that the process got rushed and the result was disappointing. We still ate the results, mind you. Emily even gave me a bread machine this year, which makes the process simple and easy - the house smell heavenly and the clean up is quick. However one make bread though, the process reminds us of how elemental bread is to life, how it fascinates and draws us in, no matter what kind of diet or regimen we are on.
Jesus says that I am the bread of life and that he is the bread for the world - Living bread for all people. An incredible image for those who bake bread, and those who don't. The image of Christ's willingness to be kneaded and formed, to expand with warmth and yeast, to be baked, broken and consumed - all of these images are incredibly rich for the baker as well as those who eat. And to the hungry, this is no romantic image but the solid promise of God who would be food to those who ache to be fed. God who knows the desperation of our need.
I pray that we can all be willing to be formed and kneaded in this Lenten season. I pray that we can understand the needs of the stranger and friend around us. I pray that we can offer what Christ has given us -living bread for the whole world -to the people we encounter today. May we remember the hungry in our midst and do all we can to provide for them. In these anxious times, it is easy to keep what we have to ourselves, but Jesus reminds us today that what we have received is living bread for the whole world. May we remember that as we share the bread, our blessings increase.