I like bread… I think it’s safe to say that I LOVE bread… I have some very wonderful memories of bread growing up… my favorite is about a Saturday tradition that my dad and I shared… Since Sunday was pasta day, on Saturday we would go together to the local Italian butcher for the various kinds of meat that he would want for the sauce. While we were there, we would pick up pastrami and other sandwich goodies for Saturday’s lunch and dinner. Then we would go across the street to the bakery to buy Italian bread for the sandwiches… and we would also get a smaller loaf of bread that he and I would share on the trip home. It was a fun part of our Saturday and one of those things that was ours and ours alone; it was more than getting away with something, it was even more than fresh, warm, delicious Italian bread; it was a way for he and I to be together that put aside the daily drama between parent and child, it gave us a time to pause in a busy world to concentrate on our relationship and what we knew was ultimately important. I knew in those moments that my dad was someone I could depend on and who would always try to be there for me. Those moments over bread were moments of welcome, moments of comfort and moments of connectedness.

Bread is a staple of life… most of us eat it every day in some form or another… I know folks who pick restaurants based on the bread that is served… we give bread for gifts, we make it for our friends and families… it sends a message that we are welcomed; it is a little piece of home in a world where things are disposable and easily forgotten…

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians speaks of peace this morning…he is asking the community there and asking us now “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Peace for us is one of the basics… no matter what gifts of the Spirit we have been given as individuals and as a community, if we don’t have peace in our hearts and in our minds, and even in our bodies… we cannot use our gifts to their fullest potential; we cheat ourselves and those whom we are called to serve with if we cannot somehow come to a place of peace within ourselves… and we all know how hard that is; there is so much that swirls around us, buzzing around in our heads that tries to rob us of the peace we need and should have; Peace can be so elusive, that even those who are involved in the work of peace have a hard time being peaceful people… often they are buried under feelings of fear and self doubt that eats away at them and at the work they are attempting on behalf of others.

Peace is our spiritual bread… it is a basic need and when we have it, we feel comforted and we feel connected. That is not to say, that life is necessarily going all that well, or that things are easy… in fact, things may not be going well at all; yet there is still an ability to have peace, to know that despite the circumstances somehow, I am welcomed, and I am connected…

In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus fed the crowd… today, he tells them that he is the bread of life; that it is in him that life is given and life is lived… our spirits will never be hungry if we allow ourselves to be filled with this bread from heaven.

I wonder how our lives would be different if we believed that… and certainly sometimes we do believe it… I know for myself, it’s easier to believe when things are going well… perhaps not quite as easy when I am struggling… peace is so much easier when circumstances and situations around me are peaceful… but peace is ours even when that is not true; the bond of peace that keeps us together is a gift given to us; it transcends all of the chaos and all of the difficulties we find ourselves in… and as those who have been called into the hope of the Spirit in our baptism, we are also bearers of that peace; bearing one another in love means that we act in love as Christ acts; that like him we feed people; we feed their bodies as he fed the five thousand, and we feed their spirits with his love… there is a huge lack of peace in the world… we who have been baptized and who come to this table to eat this bread and drink this cup are called to be peacemakers…. to bring peace to a world ruled by fear and chaos; to allow people to feel welcomed; to bring them comfort, to help them to be and to feel connected to each other and to God.

So the task for us today is to believe and to live as though we have been fed with bread from heaven… bread that helps us to be part of the family, bread that helps us to put aside the troubles that weigh us down, and helps us to replace those fears with peace; peace that we often cannot understand, but that helps us to get through the good and the bad; peace that endures even when everything around us seems to be anything but peaceful; bread that feeds our souls so that we might feed others in body and spirit… bread that welcomes us, comforts us, connects us to God and each other… bread that makes us whole. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” May we find our life and our peace in this holy bread that we are about to receive and today may we also say to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”