Being one of six kids, when I was growing up, breakfast was quite a production. I can still vividly picture my mother and grandmother scrambling to get us all fed. In our kitchen on 24th Avenue, we had an L-shaped restaurant booth that we would all squeeze into which I thought was pretty cool. Weekdays we would compete with one another to see who would score the most coveted cereal: Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs were def favorites. Then on Saturdays and Sundays, the menu for breakfast got a little fancier: scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast, and scrapple. I learned much later in life what scrapple is made of but I still love it to this day. Pancakes with oodles of butter and Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup were also a favorite. Breakfast was and is my favorite meal and supposedly the most important one. Sometimes, especially in the summer, we would have this most important meal of the day twice – for breakfast and for dinner.
I very fondly remember jockeying for position with my siblings at the breakfast table. People often come to the table for more than food.
Scientists tell us that eating together is just about the best way to build relationships with one another. That is why archaeologists, to help them understand ancient peoples, dig through trash cans to discover their dining habits. The petrified leftovers of undigested food reveal more about their relationships than a million shards of pottery or pots.
On the flip side of Easter, how wonderful it is to hear today in the Gospel that Jesus, just as alive as you and me, is hungry. How wonderful that he grills up a little bread and fish for his friends on the beach.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So, Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.John 21:9-14
When you have breakfast with Jesus, you might be surprised to see who is sitting at the table next to you. Jesus – was the biggest people person who has ever lived in the whole wide world, so, absolutely EVERYONE was welcome. When you break bread with Jesus that’s Holy Communion, a little taste of heaven. Just like in the story of the Loaves & the Fishes no one is left hungry.
The early church had a ritual meal of bread and fish. Paintings in the catacombs up until the year 200 CE show Christians gathered around a shared feast of five loaves and two fishes. These early Christians were slaves, women, and the poor. People who struggled for their daily bread. People who cleaned other peoples’ houses and mowed other people’s lawns. People who collected taxes and picked up the trash. Fisher folk, wood workers, candlemakers, and cloth weavers. And rich people too. With Jesus at the head of the table, the tables were turned. And there were a WHOLE LOT of chairs at the table where everyone was served.
Down these 20 centuries, the down to earth nature of this meal has changed, and the church has set up new rules. The unbaptized had to leave after the scriptures were read. Only baptized Christians could partake of the bread and the wine. No longer celebrated at home, but in a church, the presider dressed in colorful silk and stood alone at the table – now called an altar. Some of the prayers were even said in secret by the priest alone.
The family feast had turned into a bit of a fast and was a much more formal affair than it was before.
Today we are in a church and not at home. But like those early meals of fish and bread, absolutely everyone is welcome here. You may need a little imagination to see communion wafers as a loaf of bread – but it is the living Body of Christ that we celebrate here.
So, turn to one another in the pews and get a little glimpse of the kingdom. We are a motley crew. Some are in our Sunday finest and some in jeans, shorts, maybe even sweats!. We are young and old. Straight and gay. Democrats and Republicans. Sinners and saints. The elastic edges of this communion circle flexibly stretch and there is always room for more.
Every single Sunday morning at 8 & 10 o’clock.
And after the service, all are welcome to coffee hour, where with caffeine and cookies, holy communion continues in the Parish Hall.
Hope to see you there!
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog