There’s something about the breaking of the bread.
In a beautiful and familiar context, we remember the Passover (Last) Supper when Jesus took the bread and broke it, telling his disciple/friends of his upcoming passion and death. The breaking of the bread that night had both literal and figurative meanings; it also had both Old Testament and New Covenant connotations. Rich stuff. Well studied and celebrated.
One day I was reading a familiar post-resurrection story in the book of Luke. Cool story about two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus and talking about Jesus, his life, his crucifixion. A stranger (Jesus) joined them and the conversation continued … and deepened.
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. (The stranger) started to go on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him … (Luke 24, 28-31)
Hmm … “Suddenly their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” That phrase stood out to me. Suddenly. After what? The breaking of the bread! That same ancient and precious act Jesus modeled for us at the Last Supper. Something that is not only spiritual, but cultural … a concept non-Western peoples comprehend and share so seamlessly. The breaking of the bread, the sharing of the table, a living symbol of hospitality and relationship. In this, our eyes are opened and we recognize Jesus.
I’m not sharing this to criticize or ruffle feathers. I’m still digesting it myself. The point isn’t so much the frequency with which we celebrate Communion (although it’s highly worthy of study, discussion and prayer). The point is this: how often in this fast-paced and noisy world are we literally breaking bread? With family at the dinner table. With neighbors across the street. With strangers among us. And with those coming to Salem from all around the globe. Like the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus, do we have a sudden eye-opening ahead? In the breaking of the bread, will we recognize Jesus anew?