My mother always baked bread. When I was growing up it was mostly white bread, though cinnamon rolls were part of her repertoire too. Saturday was bread baking day with Saturday supper the opportunity to taste the fresh bread. She usually had a loaf of dinner rolls that were the first eaten. The smell of the bread baking enhanced our appetites tor that warm treat soaked in butter.
We have a bread machine, but the fragrance doesn’t leak out like it did out of the oven. Our bread palate has changed too. My sisters still bake: whole wheat, oatmeal, french, etc. I often find myself eyeing the artisan breads at the grocery store. What a wide variety of this essential food.
For five Sundays we take our gospel readings from John 6. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, the bread that comes down from heaven, the living bread.” The chapter begins with Jesus feeding the bread of 5 barley loaves to 5000 people. They want more, but Jesus points them to spiritual bread–bread from heaven. Yes, God the creator also provides food for a physical life, but God also provides nutrition for the spiritual life as well.
That nutrition is a person–Jesus, who is God’s Son and who communicates the very heart of God. He speaks and embodies God’s concern and care for this world because God loves this world dearly. God offers the promise of eternal life that’s not only in the future but also here and now. God gives eternal life or abundant life not only when we die, but also as we trust God’s promises.
Heady stuff and hard to wrap out minds around it. So we look to Jesus–to his words and the story about him, to enter into this great mystery of God’s love for a broken world. So Jesus provides wine for the wedding, bread for the hungry, healing for the sick, life for the dead, love for the unloved, hope for the hopeless, sight for the blind, power for the powerless. And then incredibly invites those he calls to follow to do the same or at least to witness to God’s continuing and loving work in the world.
We celebrate Jesus, the Bread of life.
Personal notes: We’re spending time with grand kids this summer. We had the family together for a couple days in July, spent a few days in Chicago with a grandson, swam with and babysat granddaughters, and await another grandchildren in Colorado this fall. It’s fun to be a grandparent and be a little more objective about the growth and changes grandchildren go through. As parents we were too close to marvel at that development. Now it’s incredible to watch them grow. I’m glad we get to do it.