Dear Family of St John’s

Is there anything better than the smell of freshly baked bread? I have a bit of a weakness for it.  Not the ‘sliced white’ variety, but a beautiful ciabatta.  It has a certain chewiness and a very specific smell.  Can you imagine how lovely it smells as you are reading this?

Or, my mom’s homemade wholewheat bread.  I have a vivid memory of coming home from school one winter’s day when we were still living in the Free State, I must have been about 6 years old.  My mom had made soup for lunch, with her homemade bread.  Such a simple meal, and yet it’s a memory that has stuck for 40 years.  

Then, there’s also the ‘farm-style’ loaf. I’m not sure if there is a different term for it, but that’s what it’s called in my family.  Homemade, white bread.  Beautiful crustiness.  We fight for the end crusts, they’re the best! It’s especially delicious served with what we call ‘granny apricot jam’.  Homemade apricot jam that is best bought from a local fete, when you know it’s been made by someone’s gran using a recipe that has been passed down through generations. Yum!

Are you salivating yet?

What is it about bread that is so satisfying?  It’s a staple food, in a variety of forms, in so many cultures around the world.  It’s a fairly basic combination of ingredients, essentially just flour and water.  Google tells me that the earliest bread was made in or around 8000 BC in the Middle East, specifically Egypt.  It looked something like our tortillas of today.  

Apparently, the Egyptians were very good at making beer. It’s believed that this skill, together with the warm climate led to the first sourdough… they added wild yeast from the brewing process to the bread mixture.  My thanks go to those early Egyptians!

Our Acts Bible Study course looked at the subject of ‘Breaking Bread and Prayer’ this week.  We saw how the early church gathered regularly to share in the breaking of bread.  This was an Agape meal – one that was about remembering Jesus and what He had done for them; remembering His teachings.  It was also about offering each other encouragement and support, being accountable to one another, and coming together regularly to praise God.

We are privileged to have the opportunity to take part in the Eucharist every week.  Not all Christian denominations practice a weekly Eucharist.  If we’re not careful, we could easily fall into the ‘habit’ of receiving communion.  We could easily not appreciate, with each sip from the chalice and taking of the bread, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. This is My body, broken for you. This is My blood, shed for you.  These words are part of our weekly services, may they always touch us deeply.  

One of our discussion points centred around this question;

‘Can any meal become a part of our faith experience?’

I’d like you to consider this week how your meals can be part of your faith experience.  Every time you say grace before your meal, it becomes a part of your faith experience.  Every time your conversation around the dinner table or at a coffee shop, with family or friends, mentions Jesus… that meal becomes part of your faith experience.  

Let us consider this week what breaking bread together really means.  May we meet to share meals and fellowship together as the early church did, with the same intention they had – to remember Jesus, to praise God, to learn, and to encourage each other.  

With love

Your friend and rector,