Over and over, during Jesus’ public ministry, ministry happens and community is built around the breaking of bread. From the Wedding at Cana to the Feeding of the 5000 and, of course, the Last Supper, one thing seems abundantly clear: when Jesus wanted to convey a particularly important or meaningful lesson, it was often done surrounded by food and in the context of sharing a meal. In fact, after the resurrection, one of the most notable “aha!” moments, in which the disciples recognized the Risen Lord, occurs when Jesus breaks bread at the table.
I think Jesus did this intentionally. Something profound happens when people gather together for a meal. Not only is there the obvious sensory experience of taste and smell, a meal also presents an opportunity for communal relaxation and interaction. From that shared experience comes some of the strongest memories we have. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Jesus used a meal, the sharing of bread and wine, as the means through which his followers would remember his ministry and experience his presence.
Jesus’ practice of ensuring that his followers were spiritually and physically fed is foundational to my faith. I love getting together with friends and family for a meal and so I have, for as long as I can remember, found particular meaning in the practice of sharing Holy Communion as a part of worship. I mean, all theological significance aside, how great is it that we remember our Lord by gathering together around the table? Jesus was definitely speaking to the very depths of my soul with that one! Maybe yours too.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that I am missing Holy Communion in these days of COVID-19. I am missing our shared meals in worship, in Café Koinonia, and in the Fellowship Hall. I am missing getting together for lunch with Pastor Tim and Pastor Pam. I am missing meeting with my Internship Committee at local breweries. I miss the togetherness that meals bring.
In the midst of my grief for all that I am missing, I spent some time this week pondering whether or not it’s possible to feel fed (I mean really fed) in the midst of a public health crisis. In this time when we can’t gather for Holy Communion, when we can’t gather with friends or family to create togetherness and make memories over food, how can we possibly be fed? It is a difficult question, indeed.
For me, I realized the answer comes through the development of a new routine, grounded in time outdoors, intentional weekly Zoom and FaceTime calls with friends and family scattered throughout the country, and yes, food. I realized that just because I can’t experience God’s presence in all the ways I had become accustomed to doesn’t mean God isn’t there. In this time when we are living into a “new normal”, we recognize God’s presence, giving us our daily bread, in new ways.
How is God feeding you in these difficult days?
Garth Englund, Pastoral Intern