In worship this week, we’ll be doing a bit of soul searching and we’ll be doing it by taking a bite of…bread. Yep, that common staple that is so important it’s still accessible even to the gluten free among us. Bread has long symbolized something we just can’t live without. Bread is just one of those amazing things you’ll find just about everywhere in our world – because no one can count all the different ways we make it (don’t believe me? Google it!).
But, what kind of bread do we break? That’s really the question Jesus poses to the crowds and in my opinion, even those who have committed to walking with him on this journey to Jerusalem and what lies beyond are asking it.
The reading this week is John 6:25-35 (click here), and it happens just after there’s a miraculous feeding in the wilderness, which for early readers of the gospel, echoes Moses and the people being fed during their wilderness exile in the book of Exodus.
Jesus claims he will break and share the bread that has come down from Heaven to give life to all the world. Jesus’ claim puts even the miracle of wonder bread, even enriched whole grain but tastes like it’s just a slice of white wonder bread, to shame!
What kind of bread do we break…in our pastoral charge?
…in our church?
…in our lives?
I wonder (pun intended).
After the crowd was stuffed by their wilderness feast, Jesus left for the other side of lake. The crowd doesn’t disappear in John’s gospel. Instead, they go searching for Jesus – they just can’t get the taste of this bread out of their mouths and they have to know more.
Jesus sees them coming, and makes a statement that’s typical of John’s gospel – “you didn’t come searching for me because you saw this great miracle as a sign you’ve been waiting for…you REALLY came because you’re had your fill of the loaves.” Jesus is such a know-it-all in John’s gospel.
Perhaps what Jesus means is that even this miraculous wonder bread, that was broken and shared even in the wilderness of their scarcity, isn’t enough to satisfy the rumbling hunger in their souls. People have had their fill of bread. We’re starving for something more, something else.
I think we’ve had our fill of loaves too. In the recent election, that was certainly obvious. Nova Scotians clearly had their fill of a government, fairly or unfairly, that got tarred with the “same ol’ same ol'” brush of cynical politics. We’ve had our fill or racism and abuse, whether it’s headlines about the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, or Garnetta Cromwell having someone in a drive thru tell her about the racial slur that was spray painted across her car. We’ve had our fill stress, anxiety, depression, budgets, bills, fear, uncertainty, despair, hurt, harm and ache – our plates are full!
Our spirit, let alone our stomach, longs for something satisfying, something more, something else.
Something that gives life for all the world.
This week, I wanted to ask a baker about the bread and the gospel. No, I didn’t get to talk to Paul Hollywood of Great American Baking Competition fame. He was busy – go figure. Instead I went one step higher on the baking rack of bread making.
I talked to our very own, Paul Kaiser – a baker whose been getting bread to rise for quite a while at St. John’s United Church.
After he chewed on it a bit, Paul basically offered this: Bread is dead without yeast. Yeast gives life to all the ingredients. Without it, nothing can rise. But it’s not enough to have yeast, to have