Breaking Bread

Now, where's the butter?

Now, where’s the butter?

Last night, I made a hearty beef stew in our slow cooker. Chock full of lean, formerly free-range beef, barley, green beans, carrots, onions and diced tomatoes, it was pretty tasty.  At least, Jonathon and I thought so.  Zac, eschewing any cooked vegetables in the entire known world save corn, deigned to eat a couple of bites of meat and one bite (required) of vegetables.  Ruby, yin to her brother’s yang, ate the vegetables and the broth but dodged the meat chunks.  Left to her own devices, she’s a natural candidate for vegetarianism.

All of that to say there’s a lot of beef stew left. For today, I reheated a bowl and added a slab of sourdough bread complete with butter.  Mmm!  I love bread. I’m not as much of a bread addict as I used to be, but I do love a crusty loaf, a cheese loaf, an olive loaf…Yeah, hard to go wrong there. I have a friend who makes bread from scratch.  It’s phenomenal, I hear.  Someday, I’d like to tackle that endeavor.  Baking bread seems such a wholesome and loving occupation.  You can quote me on that.

Which brings me to…bread.  I’ve written about it a bit, from the very beginning.  Jesus calls himself the bread of life.  Bread is a staple, unless you’re gluten-free, which I attempted, but you can read about that  here, and other posts shortly after that one.  If you go to the store, a partial list of staples might be:  bread, eggs, milk, cheese, and you fill in the rest. Tapenade?  Oysters?  Gummy bears? Your call.  Most people, I venture to say, have bread in their kitchens right this second.  It’s a handy food.  It can be breakfast, as toast – or my favorite, French toast.  It can present as lunch in sandwiches.  It can even be dinner as, well, breakfast for dinner, or toast along with a side of meat of some kind.

Other cultures have rice as a staple.  It’s at every meal, even breakfast.  Watch Anthony Bourdain‘s travels in Asia.  India has naan, a type of flatbread.  I know the Israelites had their bread, and matzo bread for Passover. Mexicans have tortillas.  Bread, or its derivatives, abound in every nation.

Back to bread.  What made the meal of stew last night for all of us was not the stew.  Don’t get me wrong; it was (boiling lava) hot and nourishing.  The bread, crunchy, light and flavorful, complemented everything else.  Did the kids want seconds on stew?  Did they even fully finish their first helpings?  Nah.  They loved the bread.  All of us had a second piece.  Carbs?  What carbs?!

Since Jesus calls himself the bread of life, it got me thinking.  He’s not really made of dough, of course.  That’s this guy.

I think this means He wants to be around us all the time, like our own bread is omnipresent.  Jesus wants us to feed on His goodness, mercy and love.  He has guidance for us every day.  He has encouragement and wisdom just waiting to be “eaten” by us.  When we run low, we can go to Him to get more. How many times did Jesus “break bread” with his disciples in the New Testament?  Many, many times.  He even instituted communion, calling it His body and His blood at the Last Supper.  Did the disciples fully grasp what He was saying, or were they creeped out  about by thinking of drinking blood, a huge no-no from the Book of the Law? Jesus allowing Himself to be “eaten” in these ways shows us again how very much He loves us.  It’s the ultimate loving endeavor.  Let’s partake.

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