Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:35 NRSVue
When I spent time kicking around Paris as a nineteen year old I was hungry most of the time. Thank God for baguettes, the quintessential French form of bread, which was readily available and inexpensive. For me it was the "staff of life", or at least fuel for a lanky kid from Canada.
Sadly, the baguette is under threat in its homeland with plenty of literally pale imitations which are mass-produced and don't follow the traditional ways of fermentation. This is supposed to be slow bread, lovingingly brought to fruition, but even in France these methods are disappearing. An article in the New York Times addresses the apparently controversial announcement by UNESCO that the French baguette is worthy of heritage status:
PARIS — It is more French than, perhaps, the Eiffel Tower or the Seine. It is carried home by millions each day under arms or strapped to the back of bicycles. It is the baguette, the bread that has set the pace for life in France for decades and has become an essential part of French identity.
On Wednesday, UNESCO, the United Nations heritage agency, named the baguette something worthy of humanity’s preservation, adding it to its exalted “intangible cultural heritage” list.
The decision captured more than the craft knowledge of making bread — it also honored a way of life that the thin crusty loaf has long symbolized and that recent economic upheavals have put under threat. UNESCO’s choice came as boulangeries in rural areas are vanishing, hammered by economic forces like the slow hollowing out of France’s villages, and as the economic crisis gripping Europe has pushed the baguette's price higher than ever.
Christians honour Jesus' description of himself as the Bread of Life and share in the communal meal during which we affirm that the bread broken as part of the eucharist or communion is Christ's body, broken for us in sacrificial love.
In early October we attended the lovely wedding of a couple where the groom was a child when we first arrived.in one of the congregations I served At the reception his younger brother, now working as an engineer, reminisced unprompted and with a sweet look on his face about the flock of kids who after communion services would descend on the leftover bread in the church kitchen and how much he enjoyed it. One of the members of our worship committee was scandalized by this, but Ruth was delighted to nourish these eager sparrows.
Jesus Christ, the Baguette, or Naan, or Tortilla of Life?