Breaking Bread

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S (Scripture): Luke 24:30 When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 24:31 At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight.

O (Observation): No matter how much you look at this text, either in English or in its original language of Greek, we really have no idea HOW the hearts of these folks were opened to allow them to see Jesus for who he really was. Up until this point they just figured he was another follower of Jesus.

Somehow, in the mystery of the breaking and the blessing of the bread, Jesus reveals himself. (Check out Luke 22:14-20, where Jesus establishes the gift of The Lord’s Supper.)

A (Application): My first thought is about Holy Communion. Being raised in the Lutheran denomination (and the same goes for my wife), and now serving as a pastor in a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have been and will always be shaped by the gift of this meal. My children, ages 2 through 11, all receive the life-giving gift of Holy Communion. I am delighted by the fact that they will NOT know a time of being in the church WITHOUT receiving Holy Communion. Is this effective for my children? What if they don’t understand? Well, I’m pretty sure they don’t understand, but perhaps God’s grace is being revealed to them one wafer or piece of bread and one swig of wine or grape juice at a time.

The fact that my children commune might rub some people the wrong way, because the tradition has been to set age limits at which one can begin to receive Holy Communion. The official stance of the ELCA is that the age limit is a matter of discernment between the pastor and the people. Another wrinkle, and perhaps a somewhat more controversial issue is whether one must be baptized before receiving the Meal.

As the pastor, I believe this life-giving gift of Holy Communion does a work in those who are part of the faith community, or are at least becoming familiar with the Christian faith. If my hunch serves correctly, the question that the ELCA will deal with in the next several years is this: Who is welcome at the table?

For now, let it suffice that Jesus is the gift. Jesus welcomes sinners to dine with him. Jesus welcomes his followers who doubt. Jesus comes into our places of worship and our homes and becomes the Host, who provides life-giving body and blood to those who wish to receive it (and maybe even to those who don’t know they need/want it).

P (Prayer): Lord, as we doubt, bring us a gift, a sign of your never-ending grace and mercy. Give us your presence in the Meal, as you become the Host. Amen.

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One thought on “Breaking Bread

  1. Someone posted this on my blog today, thought it fit here as well:

    “Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper for us. First of all, the elements are physical. We as humans relate very well, perhaps the best, to the physical. Second, as with Jesus, the elements are distributed in the community of believers — at the church rail. We as humans are dependent on one another, on Jesus, and on our Father — belonging is in our DNA. At the communion rail, at this moment and under these social conditions, we are united with one another and with God spiritually, as well as perhaps at any other time or circumstance. Under these circumstances, in this experience, we may be the closest to Our Lord and Saviour and thereby as close as we can be with God. At prayer – at the dinner table – in our homes, we have a similar experience. The Lord’s Supper suggests our dependence on the physical elements is the means to experience the spiritual.” – OZ

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