Pass the… Bread

I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Common English Bible).

This is part 15 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

I read the story some time ago of Mike Ferretti. Mike is the CEO of the Great Harvest Bread Company. One of his favorite sayings is, “We don’t give samples, we give ‘amples'” and he’s talking about the think slices of freshly baked bread, topped with rich honey he gives away to his customers when they walk into his stores.

The way Mike believes, you don’t eat bread, you experience bread. When you walk into one of his stores, the aroma is what hits you first. Follow your nose and look behind the counter and the chalkboard menu and you’ll see the racks of bread of every variety you can imagine, freshly baked, ready to go home.

Another thing you might notice in one of Mike’s stores is the eclectic mix of people crowded into the little shop – business people in suits, high school students on lunch break, a mom with a baby in her arms, a bike messenger, people from every racial background. They are lined up waiting their turn. Some are waiting to buy a loaf of homemade bread for the dinner table, but all seem to be there for that free slice. No purchase necessary.*

At least when I was a kid, Mike’s stores might have been my dad’s kind of place. Well, maybe not. When I was growing up we couldn’t sit down to eat dinner without their being a few slices of bread, white and thin sliced to be specific, sitting on the table. My dad had to have at least one slice of bread with his dinner every night. It wasn’t that way the last several years of his life. I’m not sure what changed but my mom hasn’t kept white bread in the house for a long time without a specific reason for doing so.

Still, for big meals, meals when we are all together, there is almost always some kind of bread on the table. Garlic bread or rolls, maybe biscuits, some kind of bread will be part of the meal.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, of course, are very much a part of that kind of tradition. I know it isn’t just with my family either. Cindy’s family is much the same way. I would imagine the same would be true for most of you.

Bread is an important part of an important meal. When I have attended dinners related to ministry and other things, bread is part of the meal. You just don’t go to a dinner event and there not be some kind of bread that is part of the meal.

That is nothing new. People have been making some kind of bread during all recorded history. The first mention of bread in the Bible is in the 14th chapter of Genesis which says, “Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High.” That is after the flood, but still pretty early in recorded history.

For those earliest generations of humanity, however, bread was much more important than it is for most of us today. In fact, many of us could stand to pass by the bread at dinner time for a few to several weeks. For those who first populated the earth, as well so for some today, bread was the whole meal. But, for everyone in that period and perhaps for some in the developing world today, bread was not just food for the meal, it was also the utensil. One would use the bread to help them eat their meal.

As time went along, utensils were developed but bread remained an important staple fo the table. For Biblical folks, that was, at least in part, due to tradition. The tradition they followed here, of course, was the tradition of Passover. God commanded the people, through Moses, to make unleavened bread as a part of the Passover meal. The whole meal was intended to be eaten as one ready to leave on a journey quickly. Unleavened bread was called for so the time would not be taken waiting for the bread to rise.

The importance of bread is no less important in the New Testament. Jesus either speaks of bread or does something with bread more than 50 times in the four Gospels and the first couple of chapters of Acts.

When the disciples were in the Upper Room with Jesus celebrating Passover, most of the words would have been familiar, until Jesus picked up the bread, broke it and gave it to them saying, “Take, eat, this is my body broken for you.” Those were strange sounding words to the twelve. Still, a review of the recent past would have told them, “I am the bread of life.” They had heard it before.

In the passage above, Paul is giving instructions to the Corinthian Church, and to us, regarding Holy Communion. Paul’s words remind us that each time we come to the table, we renew our covenant with the risen Christ. When we receive the bread and the wine, the body and blood of Jesus, we proclaim His death once again, as we away His return. When we pass the bread we are making ourselves on with Christ, one with each other and one with the world around us.

When I pass the bread at the table during a special meal like Thanksgiving, I always pause for a second or two. It reminds me of the bread at a different table, the most important table, Jesus’ table. There I remember, again and again, the way my Lord died for me.

I need bread, the bread of life. Will someone please pass the bread?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 *  “The Artisan BreadChurch” August 24, 2003


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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