Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for Communion - Perhaps

The church I attend prepares food once a month to take to a Sunday lunch ministry at Roberts Park United Methodist Church in downtown Indianapolis. Anyone who needs a meal is invited.

I volunteered to make thirty-six peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Three large, long loaves of white bread, two jumbo jars of peanut butter and jelly nestled in my grocery cart awakening memories of preparing lunch for my oldest daughter, Sarah. Every day in elementary school, she ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on crumbly, homemade bread. She never varied except when the school served pizza and she purchased lunch.

Arriving home, I put the ingredients on the kitchen table beginning an assembly line with six slices of bread. First, I spread the peanut butter then dropped a dollop of jelly in the middle. Spreading jelly on the peanut butter kept the bread together. Capping the sandwich with another piece of bread sealed the meal.

Blessing each sandwich, and slipping into a baggie, I sent my love to whomever ate nourishment  from my kitchen to eager hands. Wondering if distributing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hungry people would be considered a form of communion crossed my mind as I piled the filled baggies into a grocery bag to take to church.

Here are a few definitions of the word "communion" -

- intimate communication
- the act of sharing or holding in common participation
- fellowship

Although I did not go to Roberts Park to serve lunch, I feel sure that the communion I shared with God while I prepared the sandwiches was absorbed by each one and carried to the recipient. I felt like I held God when the bread was in my hands, because Jesus is bread for all starving souls. The person who received my sandwiches experienced God whether he or she acknowledged or was aware of what they held.

Eating bread is shown throughout the Old Testament, sustaining people traveling and in daily life. Jesus referred to himself as the bread of life. At the Last Supper, he told the disciples to remember him by eating bread and drinking wine.

Bread is still a staple today. I remember going to the grocery store one day last winter just before a major snow was predicted. Walking by the bread aisle, no loaves of bread remained. I was so astonished looking at five rows of bare shelves I took a picture with my cell phone to send to my daughters, Sarah and Anna.

The sandwiches I made for those who are poor and hungry addressed their immediate need, satisfying their hunger for a few hours, sustaining their lives temporarily. I, too, was nourished, prayerfully preparing food for God's people. In my sharing, I received communion as I offered communion.

Prayer:  Thank you God for opportunities to experience your presence in simple tasks.  Let all we do include you for you are all in all. Amen.

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