Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bread Enough For All

Luke 24:13-20, 28-35
I am a baker’s daughter.  Now there are many upsides to being a baker’s daughter and there are some downsides too.   The downsides are that I never learned how to bake because I never had to and I’ve had to maintain a lifetime membership at Weight Watchers.

The upsides of being the daughter of a baker far outweighed the downside however.  It was a treat to go to the baking plant and help out the bakers.  It seemed that the rotary ovens always had something in them baking 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 round and round mixing the batter into a smooth and creamy concoction that would, voila! turn in to some sweet treat.

The one other good thing…Daddy brought home a fresh loaf of bread - EVERY DAY!  Every night at supper there was a plate with a stack of bakery white bread on it and a stick of butter on the side.  Dad used to claim, “Bread is the staff of life!”
Bread IS the staff of life.  Bread is a staple in people’s diets and each culture and tradition has its own special type of bread that they savor too.  Swahili Buns from Kenya, Chapati 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 others who are in need of sustenance.

Bread guides us and comforts us, brings us back home again when we’ve been out on a journey. Whether it’s slathered in butter or warmed herb infused olive oil, its comfort food that fills you up, and satisfies the body as well as the soul.  And, above all, it fulfills one of the very basic needs of life, hunger. 

I realize now how lucky and blessed I was because now I know that many children in this world don’t have that luxury and that the bread they eat might be the only food that they will receive that day.

Today’s passage is 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.  Cleopas and another disciple were heading to Emmaus which is 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 who joined them walking 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 he didn’t.  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 as was his custom.  And when he broke the loaf of bread to share it was at that very moment that Cleopas and the other man recognized Jesus.  And then just as suddenly as Jesus appeared to them on the road he vanished from their sight.  All they had left in front of them was a broken loaf of bread. And a memory.

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 remembered, they knew that they were in the presence of the risen Jesus.  Bread for them, at that moment took on a whole new meaning.  
Today is World Communion Sunday.   By sharing in the grains and wheat of the earth and grapes from the vine we share our common humanity with all Christians no matter what the size of 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 I think it’s more.

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 sustainable living.  I, too, just want to be fed.  These are the basic needs that men and women in Botswana and Bridgeport, Algeria and Alabama, Saudi Arabia and South Dakota, Oklahoma and Orange yearn for.

And so how can we fill the needs of people who long for the same elements of life that we do?  What more can we do as a church and as individuals to help those who hunger?  The Confirmands and PFer’s learned about world hunger and sustainable living at Heifer Farm this weekend.  No human being should be hungry On. This. Earth.

Each moment, each new day births expectation for a fresh start at becoming who we are and for fulfilling our greatest potential to help others be fed.  When we take THIS bread we see the other and we strive to love the other and to feed the other because that is what Christ calls us to do.

The refrain from our final hymn manages to lift me up and remind me in a very joyful way of what this ‘Christianity thing’ is all about.  “Jesus lives again, earth can breathe again, pass the bread around, loaves abound.  With the light of Christ LOAVES DO ABOUND, there is bread enough for all.  Let’s put our heads together and figure it out.


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