This past Sunday we gathered for worship in a new way. There were all the traditional elements: gathering, word, meal, and sending…but also something more. We’ve been exploring how worship can also be about action. When we talk about our values (Word of God, Boldness, Simplicity, Equality, Families, and Our City), we have to also embody them. They can not remain abstract, but recognized as actual realities and practices. Our new rhythm for worship this summer is a part of that. Every 4th Sunday we will gather in this way, as Kindred Kitchen, to make something for others. In worship, we gathered with liturgy, prayer, and a psalm, and then we set to the work of making bread. There were four simple ingredients. It was a simple process we shared together. And it was delicious.
But why bread? Why put a cooking class in the middle of worship? Why spend time with a blazing oven in the middle of summer? It’s not just because we thought it would be fun (although, it really really is). It’s not just because it’s an experience that everyone (young and old, housed and not, church-y or not) can contribute to. It’s because there is something profoundly holy in this act. Bread is an integral part of God’s story in the Bible. It speaks to the rhythms of work and prayer throughout the history of the church. It connects us to others in this very human way.
As the grains of wheat, once scattered on the hill were gathered into one to become our bread, so may all God’s people through all the ends of earth be gathered into one. In the beginning God watered the earth that humanity might have food and drink. God gave Sarah bread to strengthen her family on their journey. God called Moses and his people out of bondage and refreshed them with food in the wilderness. God gave Mary and Jesus their daily bread to share. Over and over the Bible tell us of God’s provision through this simple staple. Over and over, we hear of how Jesus sits and breaks bread with the social outcasts in order demonstrate God’s love extending to all, even and especially in common everyday ways. Jesus offers his own body as bread for the world. After the resurrection, Jesus walks along the road to Emmaus without being recognized by the disciples….until they break bread together. And when Jesus speaks of the God’s promise, of the Kingdom of God, he says, “it is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” (Luke 13:21) As we mix three cups of flour with the tiniest sprinkle of yeast, we come to understand this promise in a new way. We get to experience the messiness of hand-mixing and be a part of their transformation.
Surely, ancient cloisters of monks recognized a divine mystery in the comingling physical and spiritual work. In their daily rhythms of devotion and rest was also a rhythm of work and prayer, ora et laobra. As they would tend the monastery garden, they would pray for creation and their community. As they washed the dishes, they would pray for the sick and hungry. The daily ritual would always include both work and prayer, not necessarily at distinct times and settings. The work of the monasteries often varied – some teach, some heal, some make things. They made chocolate, beer, wine, candles….and bread. The money made from the sale of these things helped support the monastery so that they could help others. As we measure and mix, fold and bake, we tap into this ancient heritage of work and prayer, of prayer in action. We pray for our neighbors, our neighborhood, the homes this bread will go to, and the fellowship that each loaf will foster.
Our rustic loaves are made with organic flour, left to rise and rest, then baked up fresh to be sold at the oldest organic co-op in town (the Central City Co-op), which is conveniently located in our fellowship hall. The money earned supports the work of the church in building community and providing good food to those in need, while a portion of our loaves go to fill hungry bellies, to the neighbor who just had a baby, or to those who often go un-thanked. You can pre-order your loaf by Sunday night and pick them up on Wednesday every week. From our table to yours…taste and see that God is good!