Wonder Bread, by John Frye
We ended with the Lord’s Table. I was at a pastors’ and spouses’ retreat of our region of the Evangelical Covenant Church this past Fall. One of our sisters in Christ who is an ordained pastor was leading us at the Table. She was commenting on the bread. She said something to this effect, “Jesus took this bread…well, not this bread [she lifted the plate for us to see]…this is just Wonder Bread. So, he took the bread…”
All of us happily startled responded to her, “Yes, it was indeed ‘wonder bread’.” What she considered a goof actually opened a new window for us all on the sometimes routine observance mind-set we can succumb to around holy things.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body” (Mark 14:22). Wonder. The “this is my body” bread. And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:16b-17). Wonder. This is “we who are many are one body” bread.
As much as the Lord’s Table is a celebration of the redemption that we graciously receive through the Messiah Jesus, it is also always about a body; about creation; about incarnation. There is no gnostic dualism; no spirit is good, flesh is bad; no unseen is good, seen is temporary and bad; no “when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away” theology. Touch the bread. Eat the bread. Smell the wine. Drink the blood. We participate in the tangibility of God. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1). Heard (audible). Seen (visible). Touched (physical). Jesus in his “first” body.
Jesus now lives in his “second” body. The one loaf of which, we many, make a unity. We, too, are heard, seen, and physical. Yet, many lament that the church is becoming way too spiritual, fleeing creation, adopting the age-old, devilish dualism. Too many people seem to suggest, “Let’s hunker down in our Bibles and in our orderly little ghettoes of goodness and ride out the storm.” What does it mean about Jesus when John writes “…and our hands have handled”? How is the incarnated-in-his-church-Jesus handled by the world?
I think both Jesus and the church should be Wonder Bread. What a calling! Incarnate expressions of the very presence of God in the world.