Blessed Bread

I had been thinking about bread and its blessing during the Eucharist, came across a rubric from a Roman Mass which said (after the Hebrew Prayer, Blessed are you Lord God of all creation etc) “Now the Priest takes the Bread, which is now Christ’s Body”  Interesting, so the Hebrew prayer is enough words, that got me thinking….

Yesterday I came up with this, baked a roll, and shared it with our chapter.

bread

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation

Blessed indeed is God, Lord of all that is.  We cannot add or take away from you.
You stand in, above and below all that is made, before and behind us, the source of life itself, the breath in all that lives.
We greet you Lord God, and gather in your light and grace.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation
Through your goodness we have this bread to set before you

Such order, manifest in creation, such careful design, the Goodness of your earth, bound up in wheat, the sun and rain in divine proportion gives unto us this golden grain to be ground to the finest flour.
Mineral salt given up from the earth and sea to flavour and colour.
Yeast, the natural leaven the living breath of the bread, the smallest of life creates through decay, new life of goodness and nutrition.
Water, a gift for life, nourishment for parched bodies, enlivens and binds the dough on a path to perfection.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation
Through your goodness we have this bread to set before you
Which earth has given and human hands have made

Hands you have crafted O Lord, work and knead, skilled in the ancient art; knowledge gained from your natural processes put to use for our benefit, earth has given up her best. We craft and create with it our daily bread.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation
Through your goodness we have this bread to set before you
Which earth has given and human hands have made
It will become for us the Bread of Life.

So in recognition of all of this we set aside a portion, enough to taste the goodness throughout which you have created, been creating, intrinsically involved from the very first seed.   In the knowledge that all bread is blessed, a hurried loaf on a Monday morn, a sliced white in a lunch box, fluffy and regularly square, wholegrain and seed bread in careful plait, sourdough, soda, spelt, paskha, rye, olive, rolls and bloomer, split top, French loaf or cob; because it all comes from you, yet in and through this bread, this gift, this offering of your gift back in recognition of all your work,  we ask for a blessing once again, blessing on what has been created and set aside, blessing on those who gather to draw nourishment from it.
Because we do this, we acknowledge all that has gone before and as Christ broke bread and ate with his friends so many times, so we too follow his example and share this blessed bread with all who come to table.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation
Through your goodness we have this bread to set before you
Which earth has given and human hands have made
It will become for us the Bread of Life.

Blessed be God forever.

Relations

I am becoming increasingly concerned, as we near the climax of the consumerist year, about relationships between all sorts of things.  Reading the latest Resurgence reminded me of our relationship to food which can be as much about how we deal with others as it is with fueling our bodies.  This is intrinsically linked to the relationship to the land on which the food is grown or reared.  Satish Kumar writes “We have to transform our relationship with food…”  Unless we can move from merely fueling, our bodies there will be no change in the relationship.  Fuel / Food is a requirement of our society, as much for our means of transports as for ourselves.  Food has become yet another commodity in which to deal, like the great oil debate, how good it is for us or what benefit it can bring us has moved to how cheap can we get it.  I cannot remember (not that I watch a great deal of adverts on television) the last time I saw an advert for food which did not mention how cheap it was, ignoring the possible nutritional value by focusing on price.
The whole slow food movement, (which is growing fast, if that is not an oxymoron) the farmers markets, market gardens, local, organic, sustainable and Fairtrade culture is to be applauded, but it won’t sustain the majority of people.  Some have taken up the mantle of growing, rearing and preparing better foods, but it is too expensive for many.  It is the relationship with food which must be healed, before those who produce the bulk of our nations food will begin to change their selling habits.
A friend said last night, ‘there isn’t much I do that doesn’t have food involved’.  What a wonderful sentiment.  To elevate the nourishment of our bodies and souls to the centre of everything;  it becomes, if you like, a peg to hang our life upon.  If we meet and share a meal, we feed not only our bodies, but each others minds.  If we eat in isolation, we are just visiting the fuel pumps for our bodies.

Again, in Resurgence, Thomas Moore writes about food for the soul, “Food makes community and at a profound spiritual level eating together is communion, a commingling of souls.”

It is no wonder, perhaps, that so many of the writings about Jesus are set around a meal table or where food is central to the discussion.  I wonder perhaps that sometimes in our Eucharist, we have focused in on the heart of the matter, but forgotten to take the time to prepare the meal with those around us thereby cutting them off from the source of the food.  It is true, (for me at least) that if you grow your own food, it tastes better.  If I involve my children in the growing of the food, in the process of planting, looking after and harvesting the food, preparing and cooking it, will it taste better for them?  I am ashamed to say I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.  I have a hunch, call it an incling, that this is the key to changing our relationship with food.  Getting involved in the whole process.  Of course, it not only provides food, but also conversation, a shared task, food for the mind and soul before a pea is podded or a potato uprooted!

And if I use that same process regarding the Eucharist…

Eucharist

I was at St Luke’s yesterday morning. It is quite an Anglo-catholic church and so I was part of the altar party being a sub-deacon or something wearing more robes than I ever thought possible!

Anyway, that is not the important part. At the distribution of the elements, I was to give out the bread to half the congregation, while the priest did the other half. It was while giving blessing to those who did not receive and giving the bread to those who did, that I was struck with a sense of not being myself. It was as if I was almost watching myself do this, listening to the words I was saying. As I sat down at the end I felt the full effect of what had happened, the immense privilege it had been to be the one who poured out the grace of God for these people. I realised that it was not in the bread, or in anything to do with me, but in the eyes of those I was giving to, in the reception of something they believed and trusted me capable of giving, something without the grace of God I would not be capable to give and something which had been bestowed to them.
It doesn’t matter who it is doing the giving of bread / blessing, just that they understand the privilege they are given and that God will work through whoever is present and receptive to the nature of that giving. It was only in the response of the people that I saw this because they were able to bless me in the reception of the gift of God’s grace.
I hope that makes sense!