It’s been a long stretch for those of us who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, all about bread, in August.
And coincidentally, I decided, for the month of August, to follow the Whole30, which is an eating plan that excludes, among other things, BREAD.
If you read it and said, “She’s CRAZY,” you’re mostly right. However, I’ve had some health issues in the past few years, including my thyroid surgery and everything leading up to it, that led me to change my diet a few years ago to exclude gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains.
My new doctor suggested, gently, that I might want to also exclude dairy to see if I could get rid of persistent headaches. And getting rid of sugar for a time? That just makes sense. And is WAY harder than I ever thought. Did you know there’s added sugar in MUSTARD?
Anyway, I have preached and heard a LOT about bread this whole month, while not eating any of it. It’s changed my preaching and my hearing about these basic texts, and so I wanted to address this new (old) way of eating from a theological perspective.
All these texts are from John’s gospel, and as Jesus often does in John, he is speaking METAPHORICALLY. He is not saying that he is ACTUAL BREAD. This comes out most strongly when the people follow him around wanting more bread after he feeds the 30,000, and he tells them that they’re only running after him because their bellies were full. When they insist on MORE BREAD, he flat out tells them (without producing any), “I AM the bread of life!”
My sermon title that day was “It’s not about the bread,” because for Jesus, it wasn’t about the bread, it was that he was the “food” that would truly satisfy them. He was, as I said, speaking metaphorically.
Yes, we eat this bread in communion. I’ve been eating the gluten free wafers for two years, and I don’t plan on changing that. But we know, and we teach, that no matter what we eat at communion, bread, wine, wafers, grape juice, even Coke or water in an emergency situation, that when we ask Jesus to be present in our meal and remember him in community, he IS present.
So I continue to eat food that feeds me and my crazy life, to exclude food that is not of the earth that God created for us, and I keep learning about what being fed truly means. And what I’m learning is, whether there’s bread or no bread, that that’s not what it’s all about, because for us Jesus followers, HE is our bread of life that will satisfy us like no other food.