God Comes as Bread

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread

Last Wednesday was one of my days to be at the University of Virginia, and I parked on the opposite side of Grounds from where I typically park (it’s Grounds here, not campus. We’re persnickety about these things). My return route to my unusual parking spot meant that I walked past the 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts. In general, Dunkin’ is not an establishment I frequent. On any normal day, I’d stride by without a thought. However, inspiration hit, and I thought I could score dad-of-the-year points by surprising the family with after dinner treats. I popped into the shop and walked out with a bag carrying 2 chocolate covered donuts with sprinkles, 2 blueberry donuts and one reduced fat blueberry muffin.

To review: I parked in a spot I never park on Wednesdays which meant I walked a route I never walk on Wednesdays which meant I strolled past the donut shop that I never enter on a day that I shouldn’t have even been near. Yet there I was holding a bag of donuts that never should have been. Got it?

When I arrived home, I unloaded my gear. As I hung my keys on the hook by the door, I heard Wyatt upstairs talking while Miska prepared dinner. Apparently Wyatt had harangued Miska into letting him tinker with her iphone, and Wyatt was in the middle of a conversation. “Siri,” he said earnestly, “please bring me donuts.”

Can you imagine the shock on his face (and mine) when, seconds later, I walked into the kitchen carrying the bag I was not supposed to have?

I do not care to turn this story hokey by making some appeal to providence. Sometimes, donuts just happen. I will say that I may or may not have grabbed the phone after everyone was in bed and secretively asked Siri for a best-selling novel and for Clemson to win a National Championship.

Dumbfounded by this moment, however, I’ve found myself struck by the gospel reading and the prayer the lectionary offers us this week. John’s gospel reminds us that after his resurrection, Jesus cooked fish over the charcoal fire for his friends. Then, in a reprise of their Last Supper, Jesus broke bread for them and fed them. There are many powerful ways Jesus could have chosen to share himself, and yet, as the prayer says, he chose to reveal himself in the breaking of bread. Jesus gave us bread that nourishes the body and heals the hunger — and this was not bread whole but bread broken.

Then with this broken bread that would sate our ravenous longings, Jesus said, “This is love. Eat and be full.”

I know many people in my sphere who are desperate for love today, desperate to be full, desperate for wholeness and healing. Gandhi said that some people are so hungry that God can only come to them as bread. The good news is that if bread (or love or joy or belonging or hope or friendship – or even donuts, I guess) is what you need, then God in Christ comes to you as exactly that. I pray you will find your bread today, and I pray you will eat to your heart’s and to your belly’s content.

12 Replies to “God Comes as Bread”

  1. Do you supposes Jesus turned stones into bread as a way of again taunting Satan after his resurrection? I like to think so. Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Desperate for love indeed. Trying to figure out what love even is — I can give all the right answers, but it is still bewildering and deeply upsetting. Have I been adequately loved… if so why am I so desperately broken… if not how can I have any hope of loving anyone else adequately… what is the interplay between commitment / action on the one hand and emotion / heart on the other hand. Why do I feel I’m in the same spot, treading water, after many and many years of wrestling with this stuff. Last night I came across a poem-prayer I wrote in 2009 that is just about the same as the one I wrote a few days ago.

    I look to Jesus, but I’m not even really sure what I am looking to him for. What more can he give me that he hasn’t already tried to give over and over again.

    1. Marcy, I’m glad that your’e writing this out. I think there’s a reason why this life we’ve been called into is called ‘a long obedience in the same direction.’ I too wonder why we (I) often seem so stuck, but I hope to remember that there also is a reason our provision is called ‘daily bread.’ We may not have the bread we need for tomorrow’s sorrow or tomorrow’s crisis. But somehow, in grace, we have what we need for this hour, this moment, this day.

      1. Good quotation — I’d forgotten that one. I think our pastor in NY used to use that one a lot. Our priest here often quotes Mounier: “The simplicity of the adult is won by long effort without miracles.” It is oddly odd to think of daily bread as even applying to stuff like progress in obedience / discipleship / loving better…

        Thinking about how the wanderers couldn’t stockpile manna… and their wandering didn’t look much like progress… wondering in what ways the wandering was simultaneously their own fault, God’s punishment (to use a problematic and troublesome word), and God’s mercy…

        Thinking about the nature of spiritual growth / formation… being new to Episcopalianism and an emphasis on apprenticeship to Jesus, the real possibility of growing in obedience and having righteousness become more and more natural… vs. our many years in the PCA (Presbyterian) with the grace alone and plumbing the depths of sin on one hand, and the “be what you are” obedience efforts on the other hand.

        What exactly in my case is the daily bread doing… what is it for… how do I find the path between scrupulosity, fear, and shame on the one hand and licentiousness, indulgence, coddling, and idolatry on the other hand — willfulness either way. I have been feeling hard-pressed on all sides lately, that no matter what angle I take I’m wrong. And in that vein it’s easy to think I’m not making good use of the bread I’m given, or not being content with the portion I get, or some other way of being wrong about it. I can’t even be at peace correctly. Ha!

        Sorry to be so long-winded.

        1. I understand ‘hard pressed,’ but we can surely get focused on ourselves, even as we’re trying to do all the right things. Sometimes, in the midst of the wearisome circles, we need to take a walk on the beach or read a comic. That seems to put me in touch with Joy more than my wranglings.

          1. I have to laugh, because you’re right, and I know it, and I have known it, and it escapes me so easily still, and even in this comment I’m still getting sucked into thinking about how wrong I am about everything. Now I will go make pot roast.

  3. Beautifully put once again Winn. Thanks for the reminder that hope comes exactly as we need it, even in the small things.

    I have to say it brought a big grin to my face that you asked Siri for Clemson to win a National Championship. She promised it’d be coming, right?

  4. I didn’t realize you were in Virginia……….a whole country away from my corner of Canada. I enjoy reading your column but I don’t get to it every day. Thank you for your thoughts. I am thinking today of the people in Boston and praying that they will experience God’s comfort in their time of grief. Wishing blessings on all of you.

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