Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Challah and Grape Juice

At our church, we do communion every other week. We do it standing in a circle with broken loaves of white bread and little plastic cups of grape juice that end up littered all over the building on Sunday afternoons. A couple years back, we used to use challah bread. If you've never had challah, it's a traditional Jewish bread that is woven together in a braid-like design, brushed with egg, and baked in the oven until the top is a shiny and golden brown and perfectly beautiful. I know because bread-baking happens to be one of my husbands many talents, but all you really need to know is that the inside comes out unbelievably soft and sweet and delicious.

The thing about communion at out church is that it comes right at the end of the service, a little before 1:00 pm, when you are starting to get hungry and maybe even a little bit crabby. So then the challah comes out and it is looking so good right now. But this is communion. Christ died, you know? So get it together. Usually, when we used the challah, I would try my hardest to think about the bread being Christ's body and all, broken for me, and I would try to get it down without tasting the sweet goodness of it softening on my tongue.

But then a few things happened. Our church went from renting out a middle school cafeteria, to using an abandoned church, and at the same time I began a difficult season of intense doubting that made communion really really hard, and sometimes impossible, for several months. It was also during this time that we stopped using challah for communion. I don't know why. I actually didn't even really notice until last week, when we gathered around in a circle for communion and bam, there was the challah on the table, like it had never left.

And maybe it was the season of doubting from which I have yet to recover, or maybe it was the surprise of seeing it there, but this time, I let myself think about that bread. I let myself think about how good it tasted back in that middle school cafeteria and I let myself long for it. And as the bread was coming around, I decided for the first time ever, to let myself enjoy it. And as I savored that bread in my mouth, I realized that there was a reason Jesus chose this absurd metaphor, of his broken body being bread and his blood being wine, and I think part of that has to do with the goodness of it. I think we are meant to savor it, to touch and taste and smell it. I think it is okay, good even, to enjoy and revel in it. As a human, Jesus knew that food tastes good, and Jesus knew that giving up his body and blood would be something sweet to us too. So when the juice came around, I tasted it too, let the richness linger a moment in my mouth and quench my thirst as it washed down the last crumbs of golden sweetness.


  1. yes! i agree with your realization. great post.

    ~ zena

  2. i love, love, love this post... as a former anorexic it is SO good to be reminded that food is good, that it is a gift, and that communion tells us this. bless you girl. thanks for linking to imperfect prose. e.