Friday, June 28, 2019

Sacred Bread

Image result for refugees sharing a meal
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
    happy are those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8 (NRSV)

There was an excellent article by a Bosnian Canadian, Aleksandar Hemon, in the Guardian recently. t It has the title ‘Bread is practically sacred’: how the taste of home sustained my refugee parents and in it he reflects on the essential nature of food for his immigrant family, a source of joy and expression of love. Gathering around a table is more than just consuming a meal:

In Bosnian, the verb that describes such an activity is sjediti, which means to sit, as the whole operation consists of sitting around the table, eating, drinking and being together for the purposes of well-earned pleasure. If I want to invoke an image of my parents being unconditionally happy (not an easy task), I envision them with their friends at a table, roaring with laughter between bites of delicious fare and sips of slivovitz (damson or plum brandy) or grappa.

Hemon has lots to say, all of it thoughtful, and he eventually gets to the importance of bread:

Bread, on the other hand, is practically sacred. In Bosnian, there is an idiom applicable to a saintly good person: “As good as bread.” Although it does take land and hard work to produce wheat and grind it into flour that will become dough to be kneaded and baked into bread, its symbolic value has less to do with all the effort than with the fact that it is the poor people’s most basic staple – if you have bread, you have food, and if you have food, you live. Bread, in another words, equals life.

This all makes me think of Christian communion and how little what we usually do is like an actual meal. We describe it that way, even as a feast. It's supposed to be the table where refugees find a place and are filled, but it tends to be slim pickin's. In the United Church we've made sure there isn't a whiff of alcohol in the already stingy thimble. And the doughy little squares of bread were always microscopic and tasteless.
Image result for loaves of bread

I'm delighted that in retirement we're in a congregation where folk are so happy to have Ruth's tasty bread for communion, something participants comment on every time. She has made it with love for four congregations now, always with generous portions, and always with the same reception. It tastes good and bread is life -- Jesus is the Bread of Life -- thanks be to God.

Read about fluorescence, phosphorescence and God's light show in today's Groundling blog

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