Bread of Life Shouldn’t Make You Choke

Todayís message at worship was entitled ìBread of Lifeî – looking at the passage in John 6:35:

ìJesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, everî (MSG).

We were encouraged to question what is sustaining us – Christ or other things? What does it mean for Christ to be our sustaining bread? How might we be fully dependent on God? Bread was laid out on tables throughout the sanctuary, and we were encouraged to get a piece of bread and eat/consume it as we ponder/meditate/dialogue with the Spirit regarding what sustains us.

This whole topic can be a mildly touchy subject for Quakers who have a tradition of abstaining from traditional bread and wine communion. Some cite that it stems from scripture stated later in John:

ìThe Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-makingî (6:63 MSG)

meaning anything the Spirit matters and the fleshly acts donít. However, Iíve heard a different take: I have a friend who thinks of every meal as an opportunity for communion – to break bread and encounter God in community. He doesn’t feel called to engage in communion once a month/week, but in the breath of everyday life.

Iím reading Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger (only read the first chapter, but so far itís pretty accurate of my experience). When looking at church experiences in the U.S. and U.K., the authors noted:

According to different timetables and different degrees in various traditions, the church removed the symbolic, the mystical, and the experiential to make space for logical and linear ways of thinking and living. . . The church continues to communicate a verbal, linear, and abstract message to a culture whose primary language consists of sound, visual images, and experience, in addition to wordsî (20).

I have a friend who has left the Friends tradition to become Episcopalian: she says, ìThere *needs* to be more ritual and liturgy in our lives!î Sheís not saying that participating in these acts secures her ìsalvationî (she loves space created for open worship), but rather that tradition helps her experience God more fully. Communion might not be meaningful every time, but then again, open worship might not either.

How can the Quaker tradition speak to a generation that ìwhen the mystery, the visual, the ritual, the touch, and the beauty are removed, little is leftî (21). When I hear ìQuakers donít take communion,î it sounds pretty exclusionary of othersí experience – many times it said with a tone of ìweíre above taking communion.î What if itís meaningful to others, and what if our ìpronouncementî impedes others experiencing God? How can we extend the embrace of God in worship whole-heartedly and remain authentic to our identity? Is that an issue?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *