United in Bread

Tonight we share a holy meal. The intent here is not to participate in Holy Communion, per se, but to have us consider the element of bread and how it can be a source of unity among all who eat, and among a particular group of people who eat it together.

This practice is designed to be shared in two parts: baking the bread at any time during the day and sharing the bread before, during or after the evening meal.

Both practices are very simple, though the bread baking will take about a half-hour.

The bread recipe is very simple. You will need:
*whole wheat and white flours (or gluten free flours)
*baking powder
*salt
*oil (vegetable, canola, olive - whatever you’ve got)
*very hot water
*honey
*molasses

As you gather the ingredients together, you might share words such as these and reflect as follows:

Let’s take a moment to look at our ingredients and consider where they come from:
~how were they grown or produced?
~what natural elements were needed for them to grow or come into being?
~who planted, tended and harvested them?
~what process did they have to go through to get into a package?
~how many miles did they have to travel to get to the grocery store?
~what kind of vehicle(s) were used - and who drove them?
~who transferred them from vehicle to store room to shelf?
~how many people interacted with this food getting it to a grocery near home?
~who in our family went and purchased these items?
~did they drive a car, ride a bike, walk?
~how much energy was used to get this food from its origins to our home?
~how will it be transformed to make our bread
(consider the processes of stirring, kneading, mixing, blending, etc.)?


When you have considered the origins and journey of each element, bake the bread.
Notice the process of mixing, stirring, kneading, etc.: how do the diversity of elements become something new?

If you are sheltering alone or have a small family, you may want to cut this recipe at least in half. As is, it makes four loaves; these look small but eat like lembas bread (from Lord of the Rings): it’s tasty and hearty!

HOLY COMMUNION BREAD RECIPE
Mix dry ingredients three times:
2 C whole wheat flour
1 C white flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt

Stir in 4 tsp oil.  Set aside.

Mix wet ingredients until dissolved:
¾ C + 2 Tbsp very hot water (min. 180 degrees)
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp molasses

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.
Dough should be slightly sticky.  Do not knead.
Divide into 4 balls and flatten each into ¼ inch thick disk.
With a knife, score the top of each loaf into 8 pie-shaped sections.  Or into a cross.
Lay loaves on baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush with oil.  Bake 5-8 more minutes.
Let cool.
Yield:  4 - 8 oz. loaves which feed 60-70 people each, depending upon the size of bread served.

When your bread has cooled, you may want to freeze a loaf or three, depending upon the size of your family. This is great bread - if you let it thaw overnight - for sharing actual Communion with your congregation, if you’re a part of a congregation and if they are sharing at-home communion. Or, save it to share in-person, when that day finally returns.

During meal time, share the bread with one another as the beginning of the meal, during the meal, or as a final “course”.
You might pass the bread around the table/group, each holding it as they read one or two lines of the following prayer. Or, set the bread in the middle of the group as you pray.
Share the bread in this way:

Let us pray:
Sustainer and Nourisher of all Creation, thank you for this bread:
~for the soil and sunlight, water and wind that sustained it from a seed;
~for the bees and pollinators who helped it flourish;
~for the worms, beetles and subterranean diversity that nurtured its roots;
~for the hands of workers who planted seeds, pulled out weeds, tended soil and 
harvested, at last;
~for the millers and grinders who transformed and preserved it;
~for the baggers, bottlers and canners who safely contained it;
~for the truckers and pilots, drivers and warehouse workers who transport it;
~for the grocers who stock it;
~for the people who go into the world to bring it home;
~for each member of this family who helped to prepare it for this meal:
We are grateful, to you, O God, for providing them all.
Help us to notice, each time we eat:
~that you are providing;
~that through food we are united;
~that we are part of a network and web of enormous diversity
~that in you, through this bread, we are one with creation and other humans; with you 
and one another.
Thank you for connection, for holding us together, for building bonds of friendship and love, for joining us to you.
In gratitude and through the power of your Spirit we pray; AMEN

As you share the bread with one another, you might share these or similar words:

Eat this bread; remember that we are all one.

You could end your bread-sharing time with a moment of silence and then begin or continue your meal; or move into your evening.

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