Last week I received an email from one of the pastors of the church we attend asking me to bake five loaves of bead for communion. Five loaves seemed overwhelming, so I agreed to two.
I hardly felt worthy to bake bread as I was dealing with anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, and confusion as well as forgiveness in the tangled web of my life. I was afraid all of my feelings would transfer to the dough I kneaded and molded.
Baking bread is usually one of the ways I connect with God. I even wrote a day-long retreat called "Praying with Bread."
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-one years ago as a wedding gift. The bowl held hundreds of batches of dough, but today's was the first to become the body of Christ.
The dough quickly doubled in size. I took half from the bowl, powdered a handful of flour on the sticky places, molded a circle and placed in a buttered aluminum pan. I repeated the procedure with the remaining dough.
Before placing the pans in the oven, I studied the loaves. In those mounds of flour I saw the yeast of anger, loneliness, anxiety, resentment and other areas of disconnect in my life, along with forgiveness, blended into bread for God's people day morning. Oh my!!
As I slid the two pans in the over, I prayed that all negative feelings would bake out of me and go right to the heart of Jesus, whose body I formed a few moments ago.
I walked into church the next day, leaving my loaves on the kitchen counter for the hostess to prepare. After greeting a few people, I entered the sanctuary, and found a pew close to the front in sight of two oval forms of bread covered with embroidered white cloths resting in the middle of the altar.
I recalled the sugar, flour, yeast and milk that I plucked from noisy grocery shelves days before now transformed into one of the most meaningful aspects of Christian liturgy in a quiet church on Sunday morning.
Then I recalled my prayer the day before as those loaves entered the oven. Sitting in the pew, I examined my heart and realized that even before receiving communion,I felt peace. That negativity had burned away, my feelings now resting in Jesus' heart.
Mike and I assisted the pastors serving communion along the side aisles. I baked the body of Christ, I offered the body of Christ to those who came through my line and I experienced the peace from the body of Christ completely a holy cycle.
As we approach the fourth Sunday of Lent, I can't help thinking of the bread Jesus served on that first Maundy Thursday to the disciples. Who baked the bread Jesus used that night? Maybe the person was someone like me, filled with anxiety, anger, loneliness and other troubling concerns? Maybe they felt that same sense of release and relief from baking the bread. Someone always prepares the bread to offer God's people - I pray each baker always finds release as they pass along, through the body of Christ, a blessing and peace to all who believe. Amen.