By Revd Vernon Cuthbert
Just before lockdown started we collected our youngest daughter from university. She’s been there for 3 years which had included a year in Canada and one of the things she commented on that she missed the most about being away was our bread. We have been making it for 15 years. I say making but it’s more a case of throwing ingredients of water, oil, salt, sugar, flour and yeast into a machine and setting it to come on overnight so that we awake to the smell of fresh bread.
And then in Holy week the flour ran out. We were unable to make our own bread, just as, we were unable to meet and to share Communion together as a church. Companionship, literally meaning to share bread together was stretched as we needed to be physically distant, staying in our own households.
In our reading of today, Jesus is asked about the bread that came from heaven, the Manna in the Exodus story. He points out that it came not from Moses but from God and that he himself has came from God. If you think back to Christmas when so many of us hear the prologue from John’s Gospel, the Word becoming life and living amongst us. Jesus identifies himself as the Bread of Life, the bread that is needed for us to be sustained and to live the life that God wants of us.
He is trying to encourage his listeners to move away from a ritual based religion into one that is based on relationships. Relationships amongst one another and particularly with God. He is encouraging us to call God, father. At this time when we are unable to receive the bread that is broken, recognising that in the Communion service we take bread, we thank God for it, we break it and we share it. With the Church unable to celebrate Communion in its fullness we can recognise that we, as the Body of Christ, the Church, are broken, just as the body of Christ we share in bread is broken for us. Our Communion is impaired at this time and we don’t know when we shall be able to gather again to celebrate again. This will pass. We just don’t know when.
And so it gives us a new challenge in how we receive Jesus as the Bread of Life. How do we gain sustenance from Him, from the relationship we have with God through Him.