Thursday, October 6, 2011


Luke 24: 13-20, 28-35
World Communion Sunday

I am the daughter of a baker.  My dad owned several bakeries in St. Louis, Missouri named Warner Noll Bakery.  Now there are many upsides and some downsides to being a baker’s daughter.  One of the downsides is that I never learned how to bake because I never had to.  Daddy always brought home all the baked goods that you can possibly imagine. 

Cream puffs, Danish, Lemon Coconut Cake, Gooey Butter cakes which tasted as good as they sound.  So I can appreciate good baking when I smell it or eat it.  One of the other downsides to always having goodies in the house was that there were always baked goods in our home!  Hence the life-time membership at Weight Watchers.

The upsides of being the daughter of a baker far outweigh (no pun intended) the downside however.  It was great fun to go to the baking plant and goof around in the back with the bakers.  It seemed that the rotary ovens always had something baking in them no matter what time of day or night.  And it was great fun to watch the huge, gigantic mixers that stood on the floor because they were so big.  The paddles of the mixer whirled and whirled round and round mixing the batter into a smooth and creamy concoction that would, wallah, turn into some sweet thing.

I realize now how really lucky and blessed I was because each Monday night Dad brought home a dozen brownies for us to eat, and throughout the week he came home with other coffee cakes and goodies.  Friday night was the BEST though because he would bring home chocolate covered doughnuts just for me so that I could get up on Saturday morning and have chocolate doughnuts while I watched Mighty Mouse cartoons.
The one other good thing…almost every single day Daddy brought home a fresh loaf of bread.  EVERY DAY!  I’m not sure that we ate the entire loaf each day but every night at supper there was a plate with a stack of bakery white bread on it and a plate of butter on the side.  Dad used to claim, “Bread is the staff of life!”
Bread IS the staff of life.  That is, bread is a fundamental staple in people’s diets.  It, in some way, guides us and comforts us, brings us back home again when we’ve been far out on a journey.  There’s nothing like a fresh and hot loaf of bread set out on your table to begin your meal.  Whether it’s slathered in butter or warmed herb infused olive oil, it’s comfort food that fills up your tummy and your soul. 

Each culture and tradition has its own special type of bread that they lovingly prepare.  Mahamri or Swahili Buns from Kenya, Naan and Chapatti from India, Banana and Pineapple Nut bread from the Caribbean, Pita from the Middle East, Tortilla’s from Chile and South America. 
No matter where you are on this earth sitting down at the table with friends or family, with a fresh hot loaf of your favorite bread is a delight, a symphony to your taste buds, a common link to one another in tradition.  Because who doesn’t like bread? 

Today’s passage is all about bread and some friends who sat down at the table to eat.  That night bread, for them, was to never be the same.  From the Gospel of Luke, the 24th chapter,

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This post resurrection story is a defining moment for these followers of Jesus.  A couple of Jesus’ friends, maybe disciples but just didn’t get named as one of the twelve, Cleopas and another were heading to Emmaus, just about a seven mile walk from Jerusalem out west.  It was late in the day and the sun was setting.  As they walked someone appeared.  Now, the Bible lets us in on the secret that it was Jesus, but the disciples didn’t know.  They just thought that this stranger was someone who hadn’t heard about all the recent activities and turmoil in Jerusalem, that is the arrest and execution of Jesus.

Because it was getting near evening the disciples were going to stop for the night and they asked Jesus to join them, his plan was actually to keep heading out.  But instead he stopped with them.  And they sat down at the table for a little supper.
On the table was a loaf of bread.  Jesus picked up the entire loaf and then he blessed it.  And when he broke the loaf of bread to distribute to his friends it was at that very moment that Cleopas and the other man recognized who this man was…it was Jesus.  And then just as suddenly as Jesus appeared to them on the road he vanished from their sight.  All they had left was the broken loaf of bread that Jesus had touched as a remembrance.  But really, they had much more.  They had knowledge and understanding and the promise of Jesus. 

They knew from the moment that they started talking with this stranger that their hearts were burning inside and when Jesus tore the bread into two pieces, and they heard Jesus’ blessing they knew that they were in the presence of the risen Jesus.  They recognized him.  Their old friend was back with them, all was ok.

Today is World Communion Sunday.  That’s why there is so many different things happening in our Sanctuary today; global music, different communion ware, our beautiful children baking the communion bread all show us how connected we are to people, other Christians around the world through the sacrament of communion or the Lord’s Supper.  Even our communion liturgy is different and Bethany will lead us.  Communion is a meal of sacrifice and love, forgiveness and hope for ALL people.

By sharing in the common wheat of the earth and grapes from the vine we share our common humanity with all Christians no matter what size the loaf is or what it tastes like or looks like.  We partake in the bread of heaven together as a sign of our unity and belief that Jesus died, rose, and will come again, simply put. 

But it is more than just that.  When we share in this bread we are recognizing the Christ in each other, the suffering that each of us have endured at some point in our lives and the hope of resurrection for each one of us not only in death but daily in the sun that rises.  Each new day brings expectation and hope. 

When we share in this bread we are saying to one another that I too have hungered in my life for love, for satisfaction, for acceptance, for abundant living.  I, too, want only the best in life which exceeds far beyond material goods.  These are the basic needs that men and women in Botswana and Bridgeport, Algeria and Alabama, Saudi Arabia and South Dakota yearn for…and you might wonder what we have in common with these people.  It’s much more than you think.

When we take this bread we see the other and we strive to love the other because that is what Christ calls us to do.  Each moment, each new day births expectation for a fresh start at becoming who we are and for fulfilling our greatest potential.
The refrain from our final hymn manages to lift me up and reminds me in a very joyful way of what this ‘Christianity thing’ is all about.  “Jesus lives again, earth can breathe again, pass the word around, loaves abound!”


1 comment:


Gooey Butter is the staff of life.