(500-900 C.E.) Byzantium bread stamp was pressed into unbaked loaves to be used for the Eucharist. Jesus Christ Victorious. Metropolitan Museum of Art
At Peace we take turns bringing bread and wine for our weekly celebrations of holy communion. The ELCA manual on our liturgy says, “the bread may be leavenend or unleavened; the wine may be red or white”. Our normal practice is to use pita loaves and white wine. We pour a few glasses of purple grape juice for those who do not drink wine. Our long-standing practice of inviting members of the church to bring in the elements of communion–to prepare them for the sacrament and to carry them to the altar as gifts–says important things about the sacrament and about the nature of our local assembly.
Communion is the weekly reunion and spiritual meal of Christians. There is bread and wine, but these staples of tables around the world are ordinary and unremarkable without God’s word and your faith. The Gospel for Sunday continues the “bread of life” narrative from John 6. In it we understand that bread and a promise go together to make the sacrament: the flesh of human beings and the spirit of God are joined in holy communion. This is the central message of the Christian gospel, made visible and tangible every week in our holy communion.
When it’s your turn to bring the bread and wine on Sunday, and read the lessons, your Christian spirit inspires the rest of us on that day–your history, your hope, your faith. As you prepare the bread and wine, do it with joy and thanksgiving. When we receive it together at the altar, it will be the bread of life for the rest of us, the spirit of life within the gifts of bread and wine.