Dear MLEPC Members and Friends,
One of the icebreaker questions in our study guide on the "I Am" statements of Jesus this week asks you to share your favorite type of bread or bread story. Many reading this letter might hear Jesus' words, "I Am the Bread of Life" and say, yes, I could share a story! Jesus is as basic to my life as bread. But as we reflect on this "I Am" statement, it goes much deeper than plain, sliced white bread. Jesus is not only the "bread of life" but within our passage He also says He is the "living bread that came down from heaven." This passage is so appropriate to study on a communion Sunday as we are reminded in the Lord's Supper that Jesus is the Bread of Life.
My favorite bread story? We had some bread that was alive in our house one time - Amish Friendship Bread. The idea behind it is that as you share bread, you share friendship and love. You begin with a starter dough, containing yeast. A good friend gave me a bag of the starter, a loaf of baked bread, and a sheet of instructions. We ate the bread - that was the easy part! The hard thing was to keep up with the bag of dough, because each day for 10 days, you had to either knead the dough or add some ingredient to it. After 10 days, you share the starter with 3 friends, add some ingredients to the remaining starter and bake the bread to give away.
One evening I kneaded the bag and laid it on the dishwasher before I went to bed. When I got up the next morning, I realized this bread was alive and had a mind of its own as it had expanded in the bag to the point where it had walked halfway across the dishwasher and was ready to jump onto the floor. I got there just in time to prevent a mess and perhaps lose several days of work. But here's the point - it was the yeast that made the bread grow. Jesus tells a parable in the gospel of Matthew about yeast - a short one, just one line: "God's kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread - and waits while the dough rises." God's kingdom will grow through Jesus who is the living bread. But for that to happen, we need to have that living bread within us. The bread we physically eat on a daily basis provides us with sustenance and nourishment, the living bread we have through knowing Jesus gives us spiritual nourishment. When we know Jesus, we can reach out to others and share the Gospel with them - just as Amish Friendship Bread is shared among friends. Amish Friendship Bread is a contrast to the world today where bread comes to us prepackaged. We can't prepackage the living Jesus and distribute him to the world. As we share his love, we share it in different ways, depending upon who we are talking with and what their needs are. And it begins by building relationships.
So we invite you to help us to build relationships with neighborhood families and friends on Friday, August 10 as we host a free pool party at Mt. Lebanon Pool. We hope that many of you will join us - whether to swim or simply meet and greet families who come. It's from 8:15-10:15 p.m., and I'll be there as one to simply meet and greet! You might find yourself being yeast, expanding the Kingdom as you build relationships and share your "bread" story with someone who needs to know Jesus, the One who is the Bread of Life.
Love, in Christ