Breaking Bread

A few days after we moved to our new neighborhood a few weeks ago, we decided to be a bit adventurous and go out to a restaurant down the street from us.  We chose to go to Yaowarat Road, an eatery named for a street in Bangkok’s Chinatown, which specializes in Thai/Chinese cuisine.  When we first arrived and read the menu, I thought about going elsewhere, as there were few dishes I understood or thought we would enjoy.  But we ordered what we comprehended (as well as some Pad Thai, which was not on the menu) and it was all delicious.  It was a wonderful meal that I could have missed if I was unwilling to take a risk.

I was reminded about my supper at Yaowarat Road as I studied about a practice the Bible calls “the breaking of bread”.  This phrase is complex: it is typically a reference to the ordinance of communion (referencing the Lord’s breaking the bread at the Passover table); it could, however, be referring to any meal shared by the people of God (as would be the case of Passover, which involves breaking bread, and the feeding of the five thousand, which also specifically states that the Lord broke the loaves).  It is this more general meaning that I have been reflecting upon.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.  Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people.  He also divided the two fish among them all.   Mark 6:41 (NIV)

One of the most unifying aspects of ministry is dining together, the time when the church comes together to break bread.  A fascinating dynamic is at work when we share a meal, whether it be at a pot-luck or a restaurant.  Our choices of cuisine say something about us: they show our preferences and our tolerances, they reveal our habits and our palates, and they demonstrate our knowledge and our experiences.  When we share a meal with another, we display ourselves on that plate.  Serving up jerk chicken tells us something.  Ordering dessert tells us something else.  Eating off another plate tells us yet something more.

Breaking bread also expresses our acceptance of one another.  When we eat what another person has prepared or ordered, we are saying that your traditions and tastes matter.  We might use more (or less) seasoning or another cut of meat or a different protein, if we were given the choice.  But we allow another person to build the menu and we are given a glimpse of themselves.  If we are lucky, we discover something delectable that we knew nothing about; if not, we might need an antacid for a day or two.  Either way, our culinary knowledge and our fellowship is enlarged.

So, take a risk and break bread with someone – invite them to your home or your local diner and eat a meal with a fellow saint.  If you are hesitant, I invite you to join me for dinner at the church this Wednesday night for one of my favorites.  I hope you’ll have a heaping helping of hospitality.

One response

  1. ​Hi Mike.

    Another interesting article.

    Marie and I have been discussing attending the Yaoarat Road restaurant but haven’y yet the occasion to drop in. Glad to hear that you visited, ate and survived. The menu sure looks like a true Chinatown restaurant. I mean, we’re talking chicken feet here! And pig innards. Yum …

    The mentioned parable brought to mind a long-buried memory.

    As a “Public” I had to attend Monday School as well as Sunday School when in high school. Every Monday after school dismissal at 1400 I had to walk twelve blocks to the Immaculate Conception School. The session lasted two hours. Thankfully, my family’s apartment was only two blocks from the school. My dad was church sexton to also had school cleaning responsibilities; I assisted.

    During one of the session, and I can’t recall the specifics, the parable that you mentioned was discussed. One of the kids was quite skeptical and took issue with the logic. The nun and the kid explored the parable’s meaning for a few minutes when another kid, a tall quiet male I didn’t know opined that the parable was open to interpretation, to wit: the parable does not mention the sizes of the two fish now the sizes of the loaves. He also opined that the numbers mentioned, the “five” and “two”, could be a misinterpretation of the original figures, and perhaps the “five” and “two” could represent amounts differing from today’s common knowledge.

    The nun was flustered so had a hard time responding. I was rapt listening to the exchanges between the two. Then the bell rang … the time to head home was nigh. As the kids left the room many bright, wide-ranging conversations were underway. Best session ever I had at Monday School …

    See you soon.

    Be well in all ways.

    Frank

    ________________________________

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