Bread is a staple food in many parts of the world. Today we are less aware of this because we have access to so many foods from all around the world. My experience of staple foods goes back to my childhood and more recently to working in Lebanon at the end of the civil war. At the school for the deaf where I was staying you knew that the lunch meal and the evening meal was always rice. You could have as much rice as you wanted so you wouldn’t be hungry but then a few vegetables and a little meat was added. Take away the rice or limit the rice then many of us would be hungry. If Christ had been with us in Beirut he would have said, “I am the rice of life”.
Jesus is saying to us, ‘without me you will be hungry’. You can only live a full life if you take me within you. Here at the Eucharist we have the chance to receive the bread which has been set aside for us by being blessed and consecrated by God and which becomes the body of Christ. Jesus, at the last supper, took the bread gave thanks to God saying, “take eat this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” That is precisely what we are doing at St Peter’s this morning.
At the invitation to Communion it says, “ Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he gave for you . . . in remembrance that he died for you and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.” During the pandemic this has not always been a physical reality but has had to take place within our hearts as we have not always been able to be with one another in person in our church building. Whether we are together physically or in spirit we join together in heart and mind and become the body of Christ, the Church. In heart and mind we are also connected to other churches and christians wherever they may be.
To use some ancient words we are also connected both to the church militant and the church Triumphant, and therefore to all Christians who have gone before us, to those alive now and to those who will follow in our footsteps.
As our Gospel tells us if we receive Christ, the bread of life we will live for ever, death is no longer the end but the beginning of a new life with God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Reverend Father Andrew Lane, Society of St Luke.