Speaking Of Life 3038 | The Comfort and Connection of Bread
During the early days of the pandemic last year, one surprising trend was the number of people who turned to breadmaking—to the point that yeast and flour were in short supply. Some news organizations asked people why they chose breadmaking, and some responded that since they were working from home, not only did they now have the time, but it was also something they always wanted to try. Others said it gave them a sense of control in a seemingly out-of-control situation.
For some people, breaking bread during the pandemic was a way to comfort themselves and others. Research documents how breadmaking offers stress relief and a means of self-expression, and when the final product is shared, it becomes a way to connect with others, even at a distance. Some say that making bread connects them to past generations, and they bake to honor the memory of grandmothers and great-grandmothers who also faced challenges.
Bread has also played an important part in Christianity. Most are familiar with the symbols of the wine and the bread and their connection with Jesus, but Jesus introduced himself as the bread of life before he instituted the Lord’s Supper. Let’s look at what Jesus said in John 6.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.
John 6:51, 53-58 (ESV)
This was a hard saying for some, who initially did not understand the
down-to-earth metaphor Jesus was giving helping us understand our need for him for a sustained life. Just like our need for food and drink to live physically, we need Jesus to live spiritually and in relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. In the same way we consume food, making it part of our body and bones, so we must take and consume Jesus. By “making a meal” of Jesus, we join him in our pathway through the world, knowing we are always in him, just as he is in us. We recognize that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we can live joyously even in the most difficult circumstances. Consuming “living bread” brings us comfort by reminding us of our connection with God and other human beings.
Bread and breadmaking comfort, nourish, and connect us, and Jesus knew this when he said he was the “living bread.” Human activities like breadmaking remind us of our need for a nourishing connection with God and each other.
May you take in the “living bread” and live fully alive, knowing Jesus is always with you.
I’m Michelle Fleming, Speaking of Life.