John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
1 Corinthians 12:27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Many of us may remember, as a child, watching a parent or a relative making bread. As a child, and even now, I think the smell of freshly-baked bread is one of the most wonderful aromas. Of course, breadmakers have made the art of making bread a lot easier. In fact, you can put all the ingredients together the night before, program the machine so that you can wake up to the freshly baked loaf of bread. Does it get any better than that?
Recently I attended a retreat here in town where the theme of the day was breadmaking. Before I went on the retreat, the only image that I could think of was the process of kneading, and how sometimes God has to pound us down (and I didn't particularly like that image at all). However, while I was at the retreat, many powerful images were explored. The one image I would like to share with you is an image for those of us who are in ministry (but not necessarily as the minister!). For anyone who is actively involved in a church or even in the community, is involved in ministry!
While Jesus was here on earth, he identified himself as the bread of life. Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth, reminded them and us that we are the body of Christ, so, as members of the body of Christ, we are to be bread for our world. As bread, we are blessed and broken, to be given to our world. Every word, every action, is like a piece of the bread of life.
The word that really stuck out in my mind was "broken". I realized that the times in ministry that I have felt "broken" were times that I also felt like a failure, but this sense of being broken and given to our world has put a whole new twist to it. Sometimes in ministry, I feel that I have given so much of myself, that there is nothing else to give, and it is at those times that I feel like all that is left of my loaf is the heel. When all I have left is the heel, it's then that I feel like such a failure … but that's not true. If our purpose is to be bread, broken and given to our world, then when I feel like the heel, it's then that I have been a success! The important thing to remember at this point is to be baking another loaf. Just as God provided the Israelites with manna on a daily basis when they were in the wilderness, so we must learn to be filled again by God's Spirit as our loaf continues to be given away.
Prayer: Bread of heaven, feed us now and evermore. Bless us, Lord, today, and help us to be broken and to be given to those around us. Remind us that every word we say, every action we do, is like a piece of the bread of life given in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.