Apr 22, 2016

Communion Bread and Kids

By Alison Andreasen


As we revel in the joy of Christ’s resurrection and await the celebration of His ascension into Heaven, I can still see Lent in the rearview mirror of my mind.

This year, I had the somewhat crazy idea to make communion bread for our Maundy Thursday services.

I found a recipe online and wanted to give it a try with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. I bought the ingredients, decided I would make a trial run at it during nap time one day, and had everything ready on the counter when my husband came home for lunch. As the time approached for him to leave and for me to start baking, the doubts came. Should I have gotten the more expensive kind of flour? Only one child will be napping. What will I do with the other two? Maybe they can help. Should they help? Should I pray while it is baking? I have a very neat kitchen, but is there a cleaning ritual I should be observing before I do this? 

I expressed my concerns to my loving husband, who reassured me that everything would be fine. As he left the house in the whirlwind which are his lunch breaks at home, he said these words: “It is beautiful; a beautiful illustration of the Incarnation.”  

What?!? Okay. Whatever. He’s talking about the Incarnation, the God coming to dwell with His people on Earth, during Holy Week? I usually think of it during Advent or Christmas, and I suppose a little on Good Friday, but not usually during Holy Week. I didn’t think much of his words in the bustle of getting ready to cook.

My oldest asked what I was doing and wondered if she could help. Oh man, I hadn’t decided if that would be sacrilegious or not! And then I said, “Of course you can help.” After all, if children are a part of the body of Christ, they should be included in the life of the church. The task might get done a little more slowly, with a little more cleanup and spontaneous dancing involved, but that is okay.

As I preheated the oven, I reflected on my husband’s words. “Beautiful illustration of Christ’s Incarnation.” Christ experienced life as a baby and as a young child. By doing so and by living perfectly and dying for all, including children, He redeemed my precious helpers. And here they were- excited to offer their time and talents to the activities of the church.

We washed hands, measured the ingredients, spilled a little extra flour on the counter by accident, and stirred everything together. While one daughter was stirring, I got out our Bible to read a few Bible passages while we were baking. I mean, if they were going to be helping, I might as well attempt to make it a time for education as well. After finding the account of the manna in the wilderness in Exodus 16, I read it out loud. They listened, captivated, as they often are when I read Scripture to them.

Then, as we marked a cross on the round circles of bread, we read John 6:41-51. The kids sat open-mouthed at the connection between hearing “I am the bread from Heaven” after just hearing about the manna from Heaven. I, too, was in awe, considering the authority by which Jesus claimed His divinity and the beautiful image that was being fleshed out (pun intended) before our eyes. My oldest replied, “The bread He gives is His flesh--Jesus’ body. You eat Jesus’ body.” Yes dear one! I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for His Spirit working to make these connections for the spiritual growth of my little girl.  

While the bread baked and I wondered how it would turn out, my children decided to draw pictures. As they drew, I read 1 Cor. 10:16-17:, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” This, too is part of what communion is: participating together in the body of Christ, which He gave for the redemption and sustaining of His people, just as the manna sustained God’s people in the wilderness so many years before.  

The children showed me their pictures. One had drawn an illustration of her most recent nightmare featuring an abominable snowman trying to eat her. My other daughter had drawn a picture of herself and her sister surrounded by manna that was red and falling from the sky--her rendition of the whole experience. Pieces of Jesus’ body coming from Heaven just as the manna did for the Israelites.

My mind flashed back to my husband’s words, now understood as God’s words using my husband’s mouth. My feeble attempt to do something in service to the church with less-than-holy baking equipment and ingredients was being made perfect in the blood of Christ. But isn’t that how God has worked all along? Plain old water, bread, and wine made into something beautiful and life-changing by the addition of His word.

That day was a beautiful example of the Incarnation indeed.


Note: At the time of our Maundy Thursday baking experience, I was not aware of the additional beauty of Good Friday also being the celebration of the Annunciation to Mary that she was with child. How fitting!  


***

Alison is a wife of one, mother of three, and teacher of many. She lives in rural South Dakota where she enjoys life on the prairie as a dual parish pastor’s wife. A trained Lutheran school teacher and homeschooling mom, she has a passion for children’s education, especially education in the Christian faith. She is a brainstormer by nature and those who are close to her never know what new idea she will think of next. Recent adventures with her family have included tapping trees to make syrup; creating, expanding, and selling her own granola business; and learning to preserve fresh garden goodness for year-round use.

Image source.

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