Welcome to the Sunday Devotional. I’m so happy we can share this time together. For some of us, we are miles apart. For some of us, we haven’t even met yet. But we come together to share this special time, to seek a moment with each other and God. So take a breath, rest your mind and let’s share this time with our companion, Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry…”. (John 6:35) Bread is a universal symbol of food. a food for all humanity. Rich or poor. Kings or homeless. Bread is a staple food in our lives, a food recognized by all, no matter the economic status. Close your eyes for a second and reflect on an image of bread that satisfies you or makes you smile.
Bread was a much sought-after food during the pandemic. It was so hard to find a loaf of bread on the grocery store shelves or even available through online shopping. Many of us turned to making our own bread at home. Then the very essence of most breads – yeast – became a scarce item, hoarded like toilet paper. This demonstrates the value we place on bread as one of the items we absolutely need when we need comfort. I saw many pictures on social media of the wonderful loaves of bread people were baking during the pandemic. Why was making bread such a satisfying accomplishment? I’ve shared weekday evening meals throughout this last year with my daughter and her family. They realized one evening that we had begun to add bread to our shared meals and that bread just seemed to make the meal complete. Having bread at the dinner table was pleasing and satisfying. It symbolized comfort and stability.
In the bible, bread is a shared food. We consider bread a symbol of hospitality and welcome. Guests were received with bread “Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves. “ (Genesis 18:5–6). There is something personal about sharing our meals, our “bread”. In Psalm 49 the psalmist laments that his friend, “the one who shared my bread”, has turned against him. Jesus shared a meal with his disciples, passing bread as a symbol of his body. Only days after Jesus’s resurrection “When they [the disciples] had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.” Baked bread—an act of reconciliation to those who, only days earlier, had failed him (John 21:9). Did you know that “Bethlehem”, Jesus’ place of birth, in the Hebrew language means “House of Bread”? Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Those to whom he spoke would have recognized the power of that statement.
We love bread. If bread or rolls are baking in the oven, it is a special occasion and the aroma is magnetic. It brings a smile to our faces. We take a deep breath to let it seep into our senses. When a fresh loaf of bread is on the dinner table, we can hardly wait to take a bite. If Jesus is the bread of life, we should seek him with the same eagerness and enthusiasm with which we seek our bread at the dinner table.
Let’s welcome Jesus, the Bread of Life, at our table with the same longing for his comfort and that feeling of being made whole. Let’s crave his company, his peace. If everyone does not have bread, let us be the ones who pass the bread to them and share the love and peace of Jesus.
Each time you break open a roll, or tear off a piece of bread from a loaf, or sink your teeth into a muffin or bagel, think of Jesus, and silently say a thank you to God for giving us the Bread of Life.
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.