Our Church: The Bread for the Body

“...the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

At City Church we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week to “remind us of our weekly hunger and God’s weekly provision.”

So every week, towards the end of the service, we walk toward the front of the church, hands open, ready to receive the elements from our friends.

And every week, before the service, members of our facilities team prepare those elements for us. They fill the communion cups with wine and juice and the plates with bread—bread that’s delivered to them by members who have prepared it with their own hands in their own homes.

"The first time I worshipped with City Church (as a guest preacher) I noticed and appreciated the distinctive and home-made communion bread,” says Erik, our pastor. "I love the fact that hands of church members (and friends) bake the bread we use to remember the Body of Christ. It helps us remember not only Christ’s physical body broken for us, but the local Body of the Church with whom we are united.”

Since City Church’s earliest days (even way back when it was called Franklin Street Community) our communion bread has been provided by volunteers. I attended the meeting to plan City Church’s first-ever service, and at that meeting I remember someone handing me and a few others a half-sheet of paper. She asked if we'd help make sure we had communion bread each week. The paper had this recipe on it:

-1/2 C Olive Oil -1/2 C Water -Approx. 1-2 teaspoons: Salt (nickel size amount in hand)

1. Whisk oil, water, and salt until creamy.

2. Add 2 C of whole wheat flour.

3. Flatten on greased cookie sheet until thin.

4. Bake 350 for 6-7 minutes.

Prayer: "Please bless the making of this bread. I pray that when people taste it, they would taste and see that You are good. Help it to remind us of our Lord's death and resurrection until He should come again. Amen."

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It’s a simple recipe, as you can see—flour, salt, and olive oil—but one that’s part of City Church’s history. Almost nine years later, we use that same recipe. Well, basically. We had about 20 people at our first meeting, and one batch would yield enough bread for more than one service. Now we average around 200 each week. As the church has grown, we’ve doubled…and then re-doubled…and then re-doubled the quantities of each ingredient. But it’s the same bread, made in the same way, covered in the same prayer each week by those—our friends—who make it.

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"The sacraments are a physical representation of an eternal mystery: a chance to be still and dwell on the outrageous truth that is forgiveness and salvation,” explains Caitlin Wise, a City Church member and long-time member of our communion bread team. "Making the bread gives me a chance to dwell in the mystery, contemplate my own forgiveness, and pray for the hearts of the whole congregation to be moved as they accept the simple bread and wine.”

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Thank you to all of you who use your time, talents, and hands to make communion bread for City Church each week. If you’re interested in joining the team that serves City Church in this simple but essential way, please contact Val Catrow at val@citychurchrva.com.

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This post is the first in a series aimed at sharing stories across the broad life of our church, highlighting different ways people are serving--sometimes in the hidden pockets or forgotten corners. You can read more about the idea here.

(Written by Val Catrow)