April 20, 2020
The Bread of Life

by Dr. Oliver Wagner, Senior Pastor

Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
 and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35
When the shelter in place order was given, we all know there was a run on bathroom tissue and meat. Shelves were empty, not just here, but all over the country. The other interesting thing that disappeared was flour. Apparently, people were baking bread nationwide. Some of you are bakers and so you know the wonderful smell and taste of crusty, homemade bread. Others of you don’t bake, but you know where to find the best breads. As my grandmother used to say, “I leave the baking to the bakers.”

Navigating through the challenges of sheltering in place, we miss gathering and fellowshipping in person. And while we can watch a sermon or join in a pre-recorded prayer, I think we’d all agree that it isn’t quite the same as being together in person. One of the things I already miss most in this time of separation is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Our session voted to suspend Holy Communion until we can gather together in person.

“As a deer longs for flowing streams”….so our souls thirst for Jesus, the bread of life. And just as a homemade soup or a fresh-baked bread can warm your insides, so Christ dwelling within us satisfies our deepest needs and longing. We may suffer many hardships, deprivations and losses in this life, but when we receive Christ, when we “taste and see the Lord is good”, we know we have all we need. Our faith is life-giving. Never again shall we hunger or thirst, and never again will we be isolated or alone. Christ is within and among us, his pierced and powerful hands loving and caring for us.

My Aunt Jeanne is in failing health. She hasn’t seen her son Scott or daughter Kelly, her husband Jack or her four siblings in a month. Her memory has rapidly declined and she is now receiving palliative care in her isolated facility. Not only have I loved her all of my life, we share a love of baking bread. She gave me this recipe when I was in high school and it remains my favorite, the only recipe I have that mentions “the palm of your hands” and “a cross.” I hope you enjoy it at home…until we can gather again to break and pass bread at the Lord’s Table.

Irish Soda Bread
1 tbsp butter
4 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sifted baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 cups buttermilk

Put the butter into the flour. Add the salt and sifted baking soda. Mix all together by running ingredients through your fingers. Add buttermilk and stir into a soft dough with a wooden spoon. With your floured hands kneed lightly into a ball and turn onto a lightly floured baking sheet.
Flatten the dough into a circle 1 ½” deep with the palm of your hands. Make a cross in the center with a knife. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Good toasted with honey!
Thank you, God with us, for every person who has shared with us the bread of life. May ours be an ever-extending table of your abounding grace. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com