This morning we took part in Holy Communion at Prestbury Methodist Church, where I've been worshipping for the past year, and I had the privilege of assisting Michael Stone (the resident minister) with the serving of the elements.
At Prestbury we do things a little bit differently, in that instead of using wafers or little pieces of bread, one of the Society Stewards brings a loaf of home-baked bread each time we celebrate Communion. Believe you me, there is nothing quite like walking into church on a Sunday morning and having your nostrils caressed by the incredible aroma of freshly-baked bread.
There is also something incredibly symbolic in the image of Michael ripping this massive loaf of bread in half, while speaking those immortal words ... "Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'this is my body, broken for you ... take, eat...' ".
But is was also, as always, a source of great amusement to me when Michael bent down and engaged in deep conversation with the children, because I knew what he was asking them: "Do you want a little piece (of bread) or a big piece?" Judging by the massive hunk of bread that each child was bearing as they came past me to receive the grape juice, there was no doubt what their request was. In fact, it made me wish I had a similar-sized cup of grape juice for them to wash it down with!
(For those not familiar with Methodist Communion services, it is our practice to have separate little cups for each person to partake of, rather than using a "common cup" from which all drink out of. I'm not sure whether the reasons are theological, hygienic, or both - perhaps this is something I can explore in a later post.)
But this whole "big piece / little piece" got me thinking about this particular question on a deeper level. Jesus speaks in John 6: 35 about being the "bread of life", and in this context Michael's question to the children got me thinking: Do we want a "big piece" of Jesus - one that will fill our lives completely? Or are we content to settle for a "little piece" - just enough for Sunday, but one that is gone, forgotten, "digested" by the time Monday comes around?
The other interesting thing is that it's the younger children who ask for the "big piece", but as they get older, they show preference for a "little piece". Could there be an illustration of child-like faith at work here? Do we lose this faith when we get older? If so, why? And more importantly, how can we get it back?
I'm not sure if anyone has ever developed a theology around the size of a piece of bread, but I sense next week's sermon (which I will be preaching at Prestbury) starting to percolate here...
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