Faith: Holy Communion: Noshing the bread of life

It was the middle of an extreme famine.

A widow had just enough flour for a last meal for her and her son — she knew death would soon follow for both of them.

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But then a hungry man shows up, saying, “Make me something to eat.”

What would you do?

Bread is a staple in most cultures in the world. We even use it in the West as a slang expression for money. When we share a meal, an old expression is “Let us break bread together.”

And, by “bread,” we mean food of all kinds.

Bread is a theme running through our lives and also throughout the Bible.

The story in the first paragraph is a reference to the prophet Elijah and a poor widow at the very end of her rope. He asks her to give everything she has and trust him that a miracle will happen.

Elijah says to her, “Don’t be afraid … first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Some people fear becoming a Christian because they may risk all that they know and have. God asks people to trust Him and that unlimited blessings will follow.

Jesus says, in the Sermon on the Mount, “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands — all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.” 

In the book of Malachi, God challenges people to test his generosity by donating freely to the needs of the church. “ … see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

Psalm 78 says, “ … he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.”

You simply cannot out-give God.

The story of the widow is not the first story of miraculous provision of bread. After Pharaoh’s army was destroyed, the entire host of the Israelites faced starvation in the Sinai desert. They complained to Moses that at least they had plenty to eat when they were slaves in Egypt.

So God said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.” That “bread” was called “manna,” which, ironically, is a Hebrew word meaning “what is it?”

The sweet flakes formed on the branches of ground shrubs and could be easily gathered by hungry Israelites. The Lord promised that manna would be provided as a daily staple until the day they entered the promised land (40 years later) — and it was.

A young boy had five barley loaves — a small lunch packed by his mother — when the boy went to hear Jesus speak. More than 5,000 people were there and they were hungry. No one else had thought to bring food along and, moreover, there was nowhere nearby to buy any.

Jesus took the loaves, prayed over them, then asked the disciples to distribute the food to the gathered listeners.

After everyone was full, they collected 12 baskets of leftover food. It was a miraculous provision of bread.

In the sixth chapter of the book of John, Jesus declares plainly that he is “the bread of life.”

Jesus said, “It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world … I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

This is the incredible mystery of Jesus, who promised he would be with us always.

He asks us to remember him, by partaking in the holy bread of the communion table. When we eat God’s bread, he becomes one with us.

Thus, Jesus is the spiritual manna which miraculously sustains us in our holy walk with God.

KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to editor@kamloopsthisweek.com. Please include a very short bio and a photo.

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