Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NRSV)
What does that mean? There are so many images and metaphors in scripture that it’s easy to see why people become confused. In worship, we also use a lot of symbols or symbolic language.
I remember serving communion one Sunday when a four year old boy came up and decided he didn’t want to dip his bread in the “blood.” His mother told me about it later, and I was reminded once again that our language can exclude people who might come to church for the first time, such as this young boy.
There are people who have been attending church since they were children to probably don’t really understand the full meaning of communion. As a pastor, I find it a privilege to serve communion with the bread and juice. A variety of faces come before me: young, old, mothers, fathers, grandparents, children – all ages and backgrounds. It’s a privilege to be part of the community of faith.
Yet, it’s also important to remember that we aren’t a closed community, and new people do visit, some who have never been at a worship service – or maybe haven’t been in a long time. There are those who come hurt and wounded; those who come seeking forgiveness from God (often for things they could never admit to anyone else); those who are indifferent and only see communion as a ritual; and any variety of reasons.
Our ways of informing them and trying to explain to them what it means can help them move into the deeper meaning of taking communion. We can receive the love of God in Christ Jesus in so many ways, but the one that draws us together is communion. The image of the Body of Christ, broken for us is a hard one to understand.
It’s sometimes helpful to explain that Jesus’ brokenness is reassembled in the church that is build in his name. We, as members of Christ’s church receive the broken body of Christ and then re-member as the Body of Christ, sent into the world to make a difference, to share God’s love, to reach out to those who are in need (physical or emotional).
The bread of life is Christ, offered for us and given to us as a reminder that we are called to share God’s love wherever we are. We have life because of Christ. We share God’s love and grace through the way we live those lives.
How have you approached communion?
In what ways might you see more deeply into the ritual and the meaning behind it?
How do you offer the “Bread of Life” to others?