HOLY HABITS 3: Breaking Bread
Reflecting on the characteristics of the early church as described in Acts 2:42-47
‘…he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread’ Luke 24:36
From its very earliest days the fledgling church was in the habit of gathering on the Lord’s Day to break bread together (Acts 20:7) and by doing so remember Jesus and what he had done for them.
This was a particularly appropriate way to remember him because, not only was he very sociable, always loving the chance to share a meal with friends, but the breaking of bread and pouring of wine served to remind them of the way he was physically broken and his life was ‘poured out’ for them.
In fact, this brilliant practice was instituted and commanded by Jesus himself and by the time Paul was writing to the Corinthians in AD 55 it seems that the ‘Lord’s Supper’ was already a regular part of the meeting in which the story of Jesus' death was told and re-told with thanksgiving;
‘On the night Jesus was betrayed he took bread and after he had blessed it he broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, ‘this is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me’ and so on (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
The first and most common name for this practice is the ‘Eucharist’ or thanksgiving. So the first reason for us to ‘break bread’ together regularly at the communion table then is in obedience to Christ. But there are many other benefits that come with sharing communion together.
It reminds us that Jesus welcomes and invites us to his table and it gives us the chance to welcome and receive him in return.
It brings us to unity both with God and with each other.
It brings us forgiveness for the past, joy in the present and hope for the future knowing that we have a place at his table always.
As we share in the brokenness of Christ it reminds us that he shares and understands our brokenness.
Just as Jesus made himself known to his friends at Emmaus through the ‘breaking of bread’ (Luke 24: 35), so he chooses to make himself known to us in the same way now.
He makes ordinary bread and wine extraordinary because of his presence. Holy Communion is a sacrament – a pledge of God’s love and a gift of God’s life; an outward and visible sign of the gift of an inward and spiritual grace.
To try this month:
· Say a prayer of thanksgiving before you eat – try one of these…
Lord, thank You for the food before us, the family and friends beside us and the love between us. Amen
Thank you, God for this food; for rest and home and all things good; for wind and rain and sun above, but most of all those we love. Amen
Lord, make us truly thankful for these and all other blessings in Jesus' name. Amen
· Come to an extra Communion service in the next month or so.
· Recognize a ‘sacramental’ moment each week this month (in which the spiritual reality of God becomes real to you through something ordinary and causes you to give thanks) record that moment in photograph or words.
‘You are the body of Christ: you are to be taken, blessed, broken and given so that you also may be the ‘means of grace’ to others.’ Augustine
Say a prayer of thanksgiving before you eat
Come to an extra Communion service
Recognize the reality of God through the ordinary