Which one would be best for communion? I didn’t know. I’d never had to make this choice.
Our pastor was at a conference for the weekend. I was presiding over the Sunday service for the first time. Before he left, we went over the details of all that had to be prepared.
He reminded me that I needed to buy the bread for communion.
Uh, I hadn’t thought about that. Where do you get it?
“Kroger’s will do just fine.”
So there I was in Kroger‘s, looking over the loaves, wondering which one looked the most, well, communion-y. Maybe that pretty, round Tuscan loaf. Wait, maybe the nice Jewish rye over there. My wry sense of humor kicked in. Jesus would smile over that, right? Being Jewish and all.
No, better not …
I finally picked an Italian loaf. Mainly because it was big and it looked pretty and it was on sale. I put it in my basket and headed for the self-checkout line.
When I scanned the loaf, the automated voice asked: “Do you have any coupons?” No, no communion coupons. Not today.
I swiped my credit card and was reminded that my purchase would earn me a few cents off my next gasoline purchase. How’s that for transubstantiation — bread transformed into bonus points?
As I left the store, it occurred to me that it really didn’t matter which loaf I had picked. Like so many of our daily decisions, it’s more about what we do with whatever we choose.
In this case, it wasn’t about the type of bread, but about the meaning we would attach to it. How it would be used and shared.
There’s a story that says Jesus’ followers recognized him by the way he broke bread. They didn’t see him in the bread itself, but in the radical things he did with the bread.
Yes, radical things.
He broke it and gave it to whoever wanted some. And he did it with a kind, sweet touch. He transformed an ordinary loaf into something extraordinary: A moment of unqualified love for whoever needed love at that moment.
He invited those who were treated as outsiders to join the meal as VIPs. He welcomed all who were hungry. He wanted nothing more than to share something with them: a little bit of his time, a bite of food, a laugh, a hug, a little tenderness, a few moments of healing.
He put a piece of himself into every piece of bread.
And a lot of people didn’t like it. Not then, not now.
In his day, meals were a reflection of the social order. The self-important sat in the favored spots and received the best food — kind of like today. They looked down upon everyone else, deeming them lazy or unworthy. Someone who should be ignored instead of loved.
That’s not how he saw it.
He shared the loaf equally and unconditionally. He challenged the notion that some of us deserve the bread more than others or have earned it in some way. He adamantly opposed those who ignored the needy and judged others as unworthy.
No wonder the self-important wanted to get rid of him.
In a sense, his bread crumbs got him killed. And that initially was quite a shock to his followers. Eventually, they realized that he wasn’t really gone. After all, real love never goes away. It’s always right here, being shared in many forms every day — a heart-felt hug, a welcoming smile, a kind word, a joyous laugh, a shared loaf of bread.
Love insists that we keep breaking bread.
So his followers got a loaf and broke it and shared it, covering themselves with crumbs all over again. Wonderful, subversive, loving crumbs.
Before communion on Sunday, I shared the story about my trip to Kroger’s to pick out a loaf and how I had such a difficult time deciding. One person suggested that next time, I should get sourdough.
OK. The next time, sourdough it is. It’s a delicious bread with a solid crust that makes for lots of crumbs when it’s divided.
Lots of little, loving, subversive crumbs.