Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
During communion, I often mention the elements are intentionally accessible. In choosing household staples—everyday bread and ordinary wine—Jesus invites us to remember his love is always within reach. And that’s what we commemorate every time we come to the table: a radically accepting love that would not flinch, not even in the face of death. No matter how we try to fancify it, the feast still comes down to a piece of bread and a sip of wine.
Jesus talks about bread a lot. He handles it frequently, whether feeding multitudes, enjoying dinner with a few disciples, or having an post-resurrection meal with two friends. Consistently, the Gospels envision him taking bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it. That’s also what happens to Jesus in his 40-day wilderness ordeal. As the bread of life, the Spirit takes him into the desert. He’s blessed with angels and wildlife to look after him. He’s broken in a series of fierce confrontations. Finally, he’s given to the world through the wisdom and passion that grow out of his experience.
As we journey deeper in this Lenten season, it’s wise to consider Henri Nouwen’s belief that we too are “bread for the world” to be taken, blessed, broken, and given. And that leads to a vital question: what’s taking us to places of fasting and prayer? What’s pushing us forward, possibly in directions we’d rather not go? What’s testing our spirit, stamina, and willpower? This discernment may sound lofty. But it’s actually very close to us—as near as the bread on our table.
These questions will ground Thursday’s Fasting and Feasting Lenten series, as we look at Jesus’s experience in the wilderness and hear more from Henri Nouwen’s classic The Life of the Beloved. Join us via Zoom at 7:30pm CST. It will be a joy to plunge more deeply into these ideas!