I’ll confess this right up front: I’m cheating. My Lenten routine this year has been to choose a photo from my files and write a reflection on that picture. Today, struggling to find the time to follow through on my discipline, I’ve written first and located the picture later.

I am about to lead a Lenten service in my church and the theme of these mid-week worship experiences is the five senses. The pastor has beautifully dealt with touch and sight, and now it falls to me to center on “taste.” With so much going on today, I figured I’d use part of that meditation for my reflection. Thus, bread.

And then there’s the photo. I don’t really have anything in my photo files that fits. In looking through my p100_2133_edited-1.JPGics, look what popped up: pie. On a quilt-like placemat my wife made. Actually, when one uses the term “bread,” one doesn’t necessarily mean a loaf of Wonder Bread. Bread can mean anything that fuels our physical bodies. Or that pleases the palate. Breadwinners are those who make the money to put meals on the table. With pie included at the end.

The Lenten connection would be the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, and the temptation to turn a nearby stone, maybe one that looked an awful lot like bread to begin with, into a real loaf, dough baked golden brown, rich texture, and mouthwatering sustanance.

No, we do not live by bread alone, Jesus, as you pointed out to the tempter. But, we do live by bread most certainly, for without daily bread, for which you taught us to pray, we would die.

And you later in your ministry took the loaves offered by a kid and multiplied them to feed a huge crowd. Sleight of hand? Magic? Generosity-inspired sharing? However that miracle was accomplished, hungry people got full bellies.

There’s a new hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette that sings: “Where is bread?” the call is rising; Millions cry who must be fed. God, your answer seems surprising: “You, my Church, you give them bread.” Bread to fill each hungry spirit, Bread for hungry stomachs, too! Give us bread and help us share it. Richly blest, may we serve You. [©2000 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette]

At his last supper with his friends, he took bread and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you.” And then at that same meal, he dipped some bread into a sauce and identified his betrayer. Bread: food that builds community, and serves as sign and signal that the communion will be broken as the bread was.

From the manna of the desert to the loaf shared in sacrament, we do live by bread. But not by bread alone. For there is the Word, too. And the Word speaks of Jesus as Bread of Life. An old hymn sings, “Break, Thou, the Bread of Life,” but it’s not about Jesus; it’s about the Bible! The Word itself has become the bread. Confusing, isn’t it? These mixed up images?

At the service tonight, Joan has baked a fresh loaf of bread and without making it into a “holy communion,” I will simply ask folks to come forward and taste, savor, appreciate, and thank God for the bread. And remember that every time we break bread together as followers of Jesus, every time we munch, crunch, or lunch our way into fellowship around a table together in a church hall, someone’s dining room, or a local eatery (and church folk never tire of doing all that), we identify with the One of whom it was said, “Behold a man gluttonous and a drunkard.” (Matt. 11:19)

I know some folks still fast during Lent. I would never question someone’s Lenten practices. But daily bread is still on our plate. And, even if we don’t deserve it, there may be that pie, too! A sign of grace, to be sure. We’ll just have to be sure to share!

I close with this quotation from two persons I was privileged to know many years back, Fred and Mary Ann Brussat.“As we eat, we are linked with those who have prepared the food; we are grateful to all the plants and animals who have lived and died for this moment; we remember with love and compassion others throughout the world who hunger and thirst as we do; and we are graced with the presence of the Lord of the Universe at the table with us.”