Scripture: John 6:30-33, 48-51
Key verse: (48) “I am the bread of life.”
Reflection: When I was in seminary we took a class called, “Eucharist and the Mission of the Church.” One of the questions posed concerned the elements of communion. Did it have to be bread and wine? What kind of bread? Should it be unleavened? When did grape juice become ok? Would grape soda be ok? That seemed a little too far astray. What about cultures that don’t eat bread? One of my classmates was the daughter of missionaries who served on a small island in Indonesia. She shared with us that as part of his work, her father translated the New Testament into the local language. On this island they did not have wheat, so there was no flour, no bread, not even a word for “bread.” Their staple good was a root that they ate with every meal, kind of like a sweet potato. So every place in the New Testament that had the word, “bread,” in English, he used the word for this root. We were all fascinated by this cross-cultural contextualization when one of my friends who had a wonderful sense of humor raised his hand and asked, “So Becca, when your Dad celebrated communion, would he hold up the root and say, “I yam what I yam?” (Seminary humor)
That discussion helped me realize what Jesus means when he says, “I am the bread of life.” He means I am the “staple food” of life; I am the sustaining substance of life. In relationship with Jesus we have what we need to know the life that really is life. When you start your day with a devotional centered in Scripture, you take a bite of this bread. Hopefully it will nourish you through the day. Acknowledging Christ’s presence with you, Christ’s presence in those with whom you interact, Christ’s presence in the least of these in our midst, you take a bite of this bread, and it is enough to sustain your spiritual life.
Just as in one culture bread might be the staple good, in another rice, in another a root, so too Christ’s presence in our lives takes different forms. Yet in all circumstances we see Christ in all that truly sustains our lives.
Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].