Sermon, August 5: Bread

From earliest times, wheat been considered sacred because it is understood as bearing the mystery of living and dying and rising to new life.As long ago as the worship of the Egyptian god Osiris –  around 6000 to 3150 BCE – wheat kernels were placed in graves to symbolize the future well-being of the departed.

We just heard the story of God sending manna from heaven. The New Testament will go on to name the town where Jesus was born, Bethlehem: which is “beth” – which means house of, and “lechem:, which is bread.  Beth -lechem – the house of bread. The Bible is set up from the beginning to associate Jesus with the life giving characteristics of bread. But the symbol evolves when Jesus claims it for his own and bread becomes the sign of the essence of the quintessential gift from God to humankind – the body of Christ.

The key biblical passages that pass on the church’s understanding of bread and cup are the words Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. They’re essence of it all, no matter what words we use in a particular moment , because their meaning is deeper than words. “For I received from the Lord,” Paul told the Corinthians, “what I pass on to you:

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord until he comes.”

Four things: take, thank, break and share. It’s about doing, and – in the doing – memories and hope are joined together. Why do we “do this”? We do it to remember Jesus. And the heart of this remembering has to do with what it is that we remember about Jesus.

It was common for a time in the church’s history of Holy Communion to to understand the sacrament only in terms of the crucifixion. But central to remembering the crucifixion is the vital awareness that the cross would be long forgotten if it weren’t visible always and only in the light of Easter morning. This is crucial: if Jesus is Christ, then crucifixion and resurrection can never be separated.

Trust the story, Jesus said. Break the bread. Do this. Do it so we might recognize him as the One whose presence creates a space where all can come together and join in a moment in time when sharing the gifts of the earth becomes the way toward sharing the love of the eternal God.   Amen.

Posted by Rev. Barbara Ewton

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