When You Need To Open Your Eyes
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took the bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way, after supper, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23–29 A main cause of the French Revolution was the price of food. Everyday essentials such as bread, wine and salt were taxed at higher and higher rates until ordinary people could no longer afford to eat and began to starve.
The lack of bread caused such a national trauma, that to this day bread is required to be permanently present in the French capital. By law, Parisian bakers must stagger their holidays during the summer months so that people have access to bread at all times.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
We take communion every week at my church. At some point during the service, we are invited to go to a table at the back of the room, break of a piece of bread from the loaf and take a tiny tumbler of juice. We go back to our seats and eat the bread and drink the juice together.
Remembering Jesus is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives: the necessity of eating and drinking reminding us of our need for him. It’s a great leveller. You don’t need to be rich or qualified or important to take part. Communion is our reminder that the Bread of Life is readily available, permanently present to satisfy those who are hungry and thirsty. We eat and drink the signs and symbols of the upside down kingdom, where the commonplace is transformed into the sacred; the most basic elements becoming a means of God’s grace to us.
Every time we take communion, we taste our own history.We taste the loaves that Sarah made for Abraham’s guests and the holy bread from the temple. We taste the manna in the wilderness and the unleavened bread of the Passover. We sit on the ground at the feeding of the five thousand and take a seat at the last supper table. We take our place with the disciples in Emmaus, having our eyes opened as we eat a meal with the resurrected Christ.
Whenever I approach the communion table, I realise again that there’s space for me here. The same Jesus who made space at his supper table for Peter, who would abandon him, and Judas, who would betray him and John, who loved him; the same Jesus who made room for the disciples whose names we never remember, also makes room for me. I’m invited to take my place, to participate, to belong.
And if there is room for me, there is room for you, too. I don’t have to worry that my place will be high-jacked, or that I’ll be overlooked or ignored. I can move up and make space for you because I know that Jesus is in the business of building longer tables, not higher fences.
At the communion table we are invited into God’s economy, where everyone is included and there is always enough. We are invited to leave behind our scarcity thinking where ‘more for you means less for me,’ and step into the generosity and hospitality of God. We have the opportunity to recognise and be grateful for the earth that produced grain and grapes; the hands that turned them into bread and wine; the provision that means there is enough to go around.
Each time I pull a piece of bread from the loaf I’m reminded that we’re all made from the same stuff. We’re all stardust and Spirit-breath; we’re all hungry and thirsty; we’re all broken and being made whole. There’s diversity and unity; you are the other me, I am the other you, each one of us together reflecting the image of the Creator.
Here, in a small chunk of bread and a sip of wine, is the whole world. Here is the Gospel, the Good News, in a form we can taste and touch and swallow right down into ourselves. Here is transformation from the inside out.
Thanks be to God.