Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Different Type of Communion - Bread of Christ

(Note - This is part one of a two part series.)

Sitting in church one cool September morning, I glanced at the red cable-knit sweater I grabbed from the stack in my closet and saw the crispy white residue of bread dough on my sleeve.

"Oh, my!" I thought. "I forgot I wore this sweater when I baked biscuits last week. A dollop of dough landed on my arm and dried."

Baking biscuits is a longtime favorite activity - one that I complete prayerfully. Usually I light a candle while I gather the ingredients, reminding me I am always in God's presence. If the biscuits are for someone else, I pray for that person or family.

Earlier in the year, I was asked to bake bread for communion at church. I wrote about my experience:

"I hardly felt worthy to bake bread, because I was dealing with anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness and confusion as well as forgiveness in the tangle web I imagined my life. I was afraid all of my feelings would transfer to the dough as I kneaded."

"Baking bread is usually one of the ways I connect with God. Today, however, I was in a different state of mind. I went through the motions mechanically - not prayerfully or reverently - gathering and combining numerous ingredients, putting the smooth dough in my favorite brown glass bowl for the first rising. The bowl was the last of a nesting set we received forty years ago as a wedding gift. The bowl held thousands of batches of dough, but today's batch was the first to become the body of Christ."

"The dough rose twice. After the second rising, I molded two circles and put each one in a buttered aluminum pan. Before placing the pans in the over, I studied the loaves. In those mounds of flour, I saw all of the discontent in my life. I prayed that all of my negative feelings would bake out of me and go right into the heart of Jesus whose body I formed that day."

"The next day I walked into the sanctuary and found a pew close to the front in sight of the two oval forms of bread covered with embroidered white cloths resting in the middle of the altar. Then I recalled my prayer the day before as those loaves entered the oven. As I sat in the pew and examined my heart, I realized even before receiving communion, I felt peace. The negativity had burned away, my feelings now resting in Jesus' heart."

Although I have different feelings when I bake biscuits or bread, the candle I light reminds me that God takes all of me, however I am in that moment.  God receives my heart, like the oven receives the dough, baking out of me those emotions that challenge. God replaces it all with peace, comfort or love.

Prayer: God thank you for the ways you use common tasks to come closer to you.  All we complete can become a metaphor for life with you.  Our stories are like your parables offering wisdom about the kingdom which we  can experience at our finger tips. For touching you in baking bread, I give you thanks. Amen.

2 comments:

  1. I used to bake bread, before I dealt with these gluten sensitivities, and I loved thinking of the Bread of Life and communion elements. But I never thought of how our emotions work into the dough and the relief that our negative emotions can get burned off in the heat of the oven. What a relief! In the same way I'm washed in the blood of the Lamb, my sins are burned away in heat of His holiness. Kind of reminds me of that scene when Isaiah cries out he's a man of unclean lips and a heavenly creature flies over with a hot coal and presses it to his lips. Then, he was clean...the sin burned away by the coal.

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