Lent, Luke, Maundy Thursday

Brown body, brown bread

Dear friends,

In the category of things we take for granted, I never thought much about what kind of bread we used for Communion, only whether it was fresh and tasted good. I grieved over stale bread cubes, grimaced over the flavor of rosemary focaccia dipped in grape juice, and groaned (quietly) over moldy pita grabbed from the church freezer by a deacon when someone else failed to provide. I took offense at being given a slice of bread to break – would you vivisect our Lord, I asked nobody in particular?

When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” (Luke 22:14-16, CEB)

Meanwhile, I earnestly deconstructed our white, Victorian images of Jesus. Yet it took years before I thought about the image being projected by the bread meant to represent his brown body. Whether pita or loaf, ciabatta or challah, it was all the same color. 

It was all white. 

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and looked for bread with my wife, for her service tonight. She wants to fill three baskets without keeping the people who need gluten-free separate from the rest of the congregation, and I thought we could find a multi-grain loaf in the gluten-free section. We stood reading ingredients together. In the tiny print, we found something wrong with every loaf. We will keep trying. We can all keep trying.

Jesus commanded the disciples to love each other, and the same mandate applies to us. We have the power to send a message of love to the church and to the world with each word we speak, each action we take, each loaf we share. When that bread is broken tonight, I’ll be thinking of all of you, tearing pieces of bread, in churches of all descriptions, for people of all descriptions. I will be treasuring this community of the faithful tied by bonds of love, across all kinds of human-made boundaries. I will be thinking of your faces, the ones I know in person, and the ones I know as little pictures on Facebook, and the ones I imagine in the words you write. On this night when we want all to go well, may the bread be flavorful and fresh, and the cup a sweet reminder of the One who lived his life with so much love, Jesus Christ. May the meal convey welcome not just to a collective all but to each one who receives it. And may each and every one of you be blessed, just as you are a blessing to those you serve and a blessing to me.

Faithfully,

Martha


I’m borrowing my own words today from the RevGalBlogPals Weekly e-Reader for Maundy Thursday.

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