20 April 2021
Breaking bread was such a distinctive part of Jesus’ ministry. He even associated the bread with his body and charged his friends to remember him by breaking bread and drinking wine together. No one who saw this bread breaking would ever forget it.
And yet, not everyone was happy to be included in this ministry of hospitality – the rich young ruler, Judas Iscariot, the farmer who looked back from his ploughing, Pharisees, Sadducees … quite a list! As Charles Causley observes:
He went round to all the people
A paper crown on his head.
Here is some bread from my father.
Take, eat, he said.
Nobody seemed very hungry.
Nobody seemed to care.
Nobody saw the god in himself
Quietly standing there.
The poet’s ‘Ballad of the Bread Man’ picks up on the significance of bread and bread making in the ministry of Jesus. But the line which I love best is the brief description of the Bread Man’s presence as ‘quietly standing there’.
Quietly standing there – and here. You cannot see the Bread Man but you know he is quietly standing beside us, a hidden presence, an unseen guest, longing to feed us with the bread of heaven, the bread of life in this his ministry of hospitality.
His gentle companionship is characterised by two things – his gracious presence and his refreshing absence. The nature of his ministry doesn’t depend on other people knowing that he is there. And in his absence, the past is purified and what is important and what is not is revealed.