Bread of Life

There was a lot happening at the church this weekend, and Saturday after the new members class, I was surfing through some blog sites that I read regularly, and something jumped out at me.  It was written by Chad Napier of and I think it’s worth sharing with you.

“We had high hopes Covid-19 would be eradicated by all the safety precautions and of a return to our normally scheduled lives. A return to full “normalcy” has yet to happen after over two years for many occupants of our world. We have been disconnected for so long from our families and friends physically and from our churches spiritually.  The virus, through its variant strains, is still present in our society to a degree. Most American churches have returned and opened for business as usual. Unfortunately, many of its members have not and are still resorting to watching services in the comfort of their own homes via streaming. The result is predictable – spiritual coldness.  The side effect of home worship and virtual attendance is a spiritual coldness because of a lack of spiritual connection with the physical church. Man left to his own devices in today’s world becomes disconnected spiritually and socially.”

As hard as that is to read, Napier isn’t wrong. When it comes to religious communities, spiritual coldness is definitely the number one lingering side effect of the pandemic. People still feel unsafe coming to church, although they don’t seem to have a problem going about the rest of their lives in much the same way they did before COVID-19. In fact, there are several who come to drop things off, or attend meetings or events, but still have not returned to worship. Is the reason really of fear of contracting COVID-19, or is it that at some point of the last two years, the decision was made that in person worship is not a necessary component of the Christian faith.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to shame people into returning to church. The truth is, even for those who did return, things were different. At first, it was social distancing, the antithesis of gathered worship.  People were told, “yes were open, you should be here”. But when they arrived, they couldn’t greet one another, they couldn’t sing with one another, and they certainly couldn’t sit by one another.  And most importantly, they couldn’t receive the sacrament of Holy Communion together. Gone were the days of coming forward as the spirit led you. Gone were the gathering at the table, the act of dipping bread into juice, even receiving the blessed elements from the pastor. Instead, you picked up a pre sealed cup of bad juice and stale bread. People didn’t even take the elements at the same time, many just opened them and took them when they felt like it. The experience of corporate worship sharing in the mystery of God’s covenant was shattered.

So it’s no surprise to me that some have said to me that they feel a bit mentally and emotionally disconnected during communion at your church. I think many of us struggle with that sense of detachment during communion; we know something important is happening, but we’re not quite sure what it is. So I think it is important that we find a way to become reconnected, to become part of that mystery again, in some small way.

In the first 15 verses of the 6th chapter of John, there’s a miracle story about how Jesus fed a whole multitude. In a miraculous way, he took a young boy’s barely five loaves and two fish, he blessed and broke them and fed the 5,000. It was the ordinary bread of the day, but the crowd loved it. They had been hungry. He had given them the bread freely. The message, of course, is that some things that appear to be ordinary are not. Sometimes it’s not just bread we’re offered. Sometimes it’s God-given bread, “heaven-made bread” offered by the spirit of Christ himself. Sometimes it’s homemade bread made with nurturing, loving hands.
So I’m announcing the creation of a new ministry: Bread for the Soul. This ministry, quite simply, is about making bread for communion here at Cason. Over the past year or so, I have spoken with several friends who have this ministry at their church, and it is amazing the effect it has had on people.  In many places, it has gone from a simple task of making bread to an entire small group focused on the spiritual aspect of making bread.  Let me explain. Preparing Communion bread can be a spiritual exercise. The hands-on preparation of mixing and kneading, combined with the meditative nature of waiting on bread to rise, offers an opportunity for active contemplation. Those baking the bread are encouraged to mix, knead and bake prayerfully.  

There are 6 steps involved in the process:
  1. Choose a recipe
  2. Prepare through meditation
  3. Gather the ingredients
  4. Lay out the ingredients.
  5. Bake the bread
  6. Present the bread.
Interestingly enough, there are 6 steps in the communion process:
  1. Choose to worship Christ.
  2. Meditate on this bread of Life.
  3. Gather yourself as you did your ingredients.
  4. Lay yourself before Christ as you laid out your ingredients.
  5. Allow Christ to measure and mix and knead and bake.
  6. Present yourself to Christ.
So the truth is that homemade bread made with nurturing, loving hands is also God-given bread offered by the spirit of Christ himself. Starting in October, there will be packets that you can pick up in the office that will include a recipe, and blessed napkin to wrap the finished bread in and some devotionals that you could read while making the bread. It is my hope that by engaging in the process of making the bread for Communion, we can find ourselves again connected to the truth of Communion: That we are created by God’s hands, saved by God’s love and maintained by God’s grace. I hope you will prayerfully consider being a part of this ministry, either by yourself, or with a group of others.

Oh, and by the way, any extra bread we have will be given freely to those who need it.

Pastor David

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