Bread is life.
The writer Elie Wiesel tells how, when he was a child, he and his father were taken to Auschwitz, and then to Buchenwald. They were separated from the rest of their family, but father and son were interned together. Each day, when the guards gave the prisoners their meager ration, Elie’s father would break off half his own bread and give it to his small son. Day by day, that small gift of love kept Elie alive. Day by day, his father thinned, became gaunt, and perished. But the son was left forever with the savor his father’s love.
Give us this day our daily bread, Jesus taught us to pray. The bread that we break each day to keep body and soul together, the bread that we share among family and friends, the bread which becomes entwined in our memories with stories and laughter and the gentle light of candles as we linger for one more slice of cake, one more glass of wine. But also, of course, the other bread: the bread that was given for us upon the Cross, the bread that we break each Sunday when we share in the gift of Eucharist. That bread, like Wiesel’s dried crusts, was bread that came from Jesus’ very flesh. It sustains us each week, brings us grace and forgiveness and strength and comfort, nourishes us to do God’s work in the world.
In this time of unknowns, when so much of our daily life has been suspended, when we are unable to be together as a community or share in the Eucharist which feeds us so deeply, that bread may still point a way forward. An ancient Christian prayer asks, “As this broken bread was once scattered on the mountains, and after it had been brought together became one, so may thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth unto thy kingdom.” It means, of course, that the loaf we share is made of grain which grew in many fields, which became one loaf, to nourish one people. So we, who are now scattered, may still be able to weave ourselves together by sharing the stuff of our faith and life.
That’s what this space is for. We hope, during this time, to post a daily reflection, based on one of the readings appointed by the church for that day’s prayer. The reflections will take those readings in many directions: from scriptural meditations to creative or artistic responses to sharing elements of our daily lives. They will let us hear the voices in our congregation in a new way, offer insights into the humanity of people we sometimes only see at a distance, or, at the most, engage for a few words over coffee.
Each of you is invited to participate, writing in English or in French. Deborah will be coordinating this work. If you wish to become involved, please e-mail her at [email protected] She will assign you a date, and will post your material here once you send it to her. All of you are invited to read: this week, we are scrambling a bit, but by next week, we hope to post each day’s reflection no later than 8:00 a.m.
We are having to let go of so much that we value in these days that it is easy to become mired in the loss. But even
as we acknowledge the grief, we need to open our eyes to what remains. The poet Tennyson writes, “Tho’ much is taken, much abides.” Our building may be closed, our choir suspended, but the church was never that. The church was always the people — you and me — all of us — and we still are. We are the gift Christ gave one another, and by God’s grace, we will sustain one another, even if we need to seek new ways to do it. Perhaps, this Lent, God will use this space to open our eyes to one another anew, to deepen our bonds in love. So let us pray.