bread: the food of transformation
“For the Bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
I grew up eating the Lord’s Supper on a monthly basis, frustrated by the extended Sunday service in which we passed around a plate of stale crackers and cups of over sweetened grape juice. I could not partake of the blessed meal until I had prayed to ask Jesus into my heart. And I could not pray to ask Jesus into my heart until I could articulate why I was praying such a prayer. And one day after I prayed the prayer, on the extended Sunday, I could eat the crackers and drink the juice.
I remember the day that, out of curiosity, I snuck the meal. We were meeting in an auditorium, and the darkened lights allowed me to eat without my parents notice. At a mere six-years-old, my conscience had already begun to operate in overdrive (a function it maintains to this day) and just a few hours after the incident I found myself in my parents’ bedroom confessing to them what I had done. They explained to me that I could not eat the meal until I understood what it meant, and I continued on my merry way.
Over the following years, I prayed the believer’s prayer. I was submerged in the tub on the sanctuary stage, declaring my faith to North Highland’s Bible Church and securing my eternal fate. Month after month, I heard the lines “This is my body broken for you,” but I never understood the passing of the plate.
In college, I attended for a short time a small charismatic community church. Each week I would walk through the town of Wheaton with a few friends to the local elementary school where our congregation met. One Sunday, as our group walked through the rain, one of my friends told me it would be her final week with us. We’d been attending for a full semester and had not once taken communion, and she did not want to be a part of a church that failed to administer the Lord’s meal. At that point I still did not understand the importance of the meal, apart from the fact the Jesus gave it the night before His death. But everyone around me seemed to find it vital to the Christian faith, so I asked the Lord to help me to “get it”.
As I’ve voraciously studied the anthropology, history, and science of food, as I’ve read philosophies of food from a variety of centuries, watched YouTube clips and documentaries, pored through cookbooks and gawked over menus, I’ve begun to see the importance of the symbolism of Jesus as the Bread of Life. What started as asking God to help me “get it” has turned in to an overwhelming desire to find deeper and deeper connections knowing that there is more to “get” than can possibly be expressed in a mere analysis of Matthew 26.
I’ve expressed on this blog numerous times my fascination with the Eucharistic meal, and as I continue to discover the beautiful parallels that abound I hope to express them in this format. I hope that I can use my words to share with others the depth of meaning that takes place upon the consumption of the Holy bread and wine.
About a year ago, I found this video that moved me to tears. I watched it again this morning and around minute nine and a half burst into a mixture of laughter and tears. I encourage you to watch it and hope that you find the symbolism of transformation as amazing as I do. The bread of God came down from heaven to give life to the world, and He gave us symbols of His presence even in the very chemistry of dough.
“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”