This past Saturday we hosted a Youth Faith Formation retreat for confirmation students from across the state. One of the topics for the weekend was communion and as an activity the students put together the ingredients for bread dough and then we tried to bake the bread over an open camp fire. I need to use the word ‘tried’ because some would argue that we might not have been successful. The bread dough was placed in clay flower pots for cooking and then the pots were wrapped in aluminum foil. It was rather windy on Saturday and as a result our fire had plenty of oxygen and burned rather aggressively. Heat was not in short supply. 45 minutes of baking yielded bread that was looking good on the outside, but it was rather doughy on the inside. After 90 minutes of baking we removed our bread from the oven. Most of the clay pots had disintegrated into a pile of shards and six of the eight loaves of bread were charred beyond recognition. Two of the loaves had a very charred outer shell enclosing a rather moist bread-like center.
One of the beauties of Outdoor Ministry is that we are able to try all sorts of things that people might be hesitant to try in a traditional church setting. Some of these things turn out amazing and spectacular, and some of them are exceedingly hilarious flops. I really think our bread making needs to be classified as a success, I just wished I would have had more time to explore the outcomes with the students.
So we ended up with 2 out of 8 loaves of communion bread that had gritty, charred, rough, outer coatings surrounding moist, warm centers. This is communion bread, “the body of Christ”. In some respects, I can see how it might be appropriate for the body of Christ to be a little rough around the edges. I contrast this imagery with what we typically see on World Communion Sunday when all of our churches create these amazingly gorgeous displays of beautiful bread from around the world. Maybe when we are participating in communion and consuming the body of Christ, maybe it would be a good idea if it was a little gritty along with being soft and chewy. Sometimes our Christianity calls us to be a little gritty. I am looking forward to seeing how our baking will turn out again this next Saturday. I wonder how the “body of Christ” will turn out this time.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp