It began two years ago after I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat for a local church. After a wonderful weekend, the retreat ended with a time of communion. One of the retreat leaders, Sharon Souza read an essay written by a professor at Biola University about communion bread. (Essay found at the end of this post) It was one of those life changing moments. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and love for the Lord as she read the vivid description of a childhood memory of communion. I also realized that we in the church have often made communion a dry, tasteless and stiff experience and that has all too often been the way we live our Christian lives as well.
I came home from that retreat determined to have a divine communion experience on a regular basis with my family and create meaningful memories for my children to look back on. I simply got out my calendar and wrote “Family Communion” on the last Sunday of each month in a bold pen. I shared my passion with my dear darling husband and he agreed that having family communion once a month was a great idea. As the first date on the calendar approached, I got on the Internet and searched for communion bread recipees that fit the description of the essay I had heard…something mouthwatering, tasty and delicious.
We have tried several communion bread recipes and have varied the content of the evening – sometimes reading the traditional communion scriptures, other times taking the time to “right” relationships among family members, and often times just sharing the goodness of God, praise reports and prayer concerns.It is always such a meaningful evening and the girls look forward to it with great anticipation! We even have friends who make an effort to join us for this time of communion because it is so special. This last Sunday was our communion time and we think we have finally found our family’s communion bread recipe! (I’ll include that after the essay) It was GREAT! This time, during communion we shared the many answers to prayer that the Lord has recently shown us –
- Dan Howen’s cancerous tumors shrinking! Praise the Lord!
- Michelle’s insulin arriving safely and on time into Australia.
- Diane Harper being surrounded by the body of Christ during her time of loss.
- Little baby Ali Jones great MRI report & stabilized in the hospital.
- Gods protection & provision for our family.
God is good…..all the time! We ended our time with worship…singing several of the great hymns of our faith that I have recently become more determined that my children know. (we attend a church with more contemporary worship that I love, but many hymns have awesome theology & doctrine that I want burned into our hearts and minds) I decided to order 2nd Chapter of Acts hymns CD so that they can learn some of these wonderful hymns!
I am so glad we began this family communion tradition, even though when we began my eldest child was already 16 and only got to be a part for two years, it is never too late to be purposeful about training them in the ways of the Lord. (and since I have children whose ages are 18, 14, 13, 12, 8, 4 & 5 months…what I may have missed with the older ones, I can still incorporate with the rest. As I am always telling them – “I just keep getting better at this Mom thing!”) 🙂 I encourage you to start this practice whether you are at the tale end of your parenting job, just in the beginning stages or somewhere in the middle. All it takes is writing it on the calendar with a bold pen & then doing it!
Here is the Essay that inspired me in the first place along with our favorite communion bread recipe.
by Rosalie De Rosset:
(Professor at Biola University)
“When I was young, communion bread in certain Baptist churches was made from a special recipe. Either the pastor’s wife or the deacon’s wife did the baking. In my case, coming from a family of pastors…my grandmother, mother or aunts made communion bread regularly. Communion bread was sensual. As a child I waited for it eagerly, not so intent then on what it symbolized as on its sensuality… The confection, for it was more than bread, was a cross between the finest sweet pie crust you’ve ever eaten, and baked filo, crusty, flaky and layered golden brown, like baklava without honey.
Not as heavy as short bread or as plain as pie crust, it melted in your mouth. You savored it, sucking out the sweetness, swallowing the lightness, a delight that lasted ‘til the cup came around. The rich grape juice never quite undid its lingering epiphany…
I sat motionless, anticipating the first sight of the sacrament as the deacons came around with the plate of bread, with what held the promise of a taste like nothing else I’d ever eaten. The preacher reminded us that this was the symbol of the body of Jesus Christ broken for us. As the deacon reached my pew I raised my head, peering past the adults, to the server’s extended arm. The silver platter shone, mirroring the hands, passing it along. The slightly raised squares lay tawny and seductive. My mouth watered. I could taste the light richness in my memory. Then the plate was held out to my small hands. I always studied the dish, measuring the squares, and picking the biggest one I could find. Sometimes my mother had to hurry me along.
I took the bread and put it on my palm, softly folding my fingers over it, restless for the moment when we would all be allowed to place it in our mouths. When everyone had been served, my grandfather or father said, now take and eat this in memory of Christ who died for us. I lifted the bread to my mouth and put it on my tongue, circling the fragrance, sucking out the buttery sweetness, finally chewing it slowly, and swallowing it reluctantly. I then licked the buttery crumbs from my fingers.
In Peru, my mother followed the tradition, refusing to surrender to crackers. Perhaps believing that the sensuality of that bread, both in its making and its consumption, was a fitting metaphor for a faith experience too often rendered dry, yeastless and tasteless. As the baking bread oozed into the air on the Saturday night before Communion Sunday, my mouth watered with expectancy. For some reason my siblings and I were allowed to wash up the tiny cups and pack away what was left of the bread and juice. That meant consuming it. We raced to the back room. There we ate those golden wafers, relishing the taste again, never rushing, sucking out the essence, letting it soak into our tongues until the dough had disintegrated, a second ritual.
The tradition of baking communion bread is long gone. No one has time for such things. Religion has become efficient. Deacons retreat to church kitchens on the appointed Sunday…and open a package of tiny, dried up squares that look like Chicklets, and dump them into a dish. There’s no color, no fragrance, no texture and no taste. The symbol for the Christ the children are to learn to love and know will be tasteless, almost intangible, certainly uninviting, all materiality thinned, leaving his humanity untouched, while demanding respect for divinity.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good, the Psalmist says, inviting his readers to know Christ. His mother, I’m sure, baked communion bread.”
Communion Bread Recipe
This communion bread was taken from a recipe that was first made in 1847
3 cups flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
orange rind (optional)
Roll or pat out in pan 1/4 inch thick. Use 11×17 inch pan. Score with knife dipped with flour clear through.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. After it cools cut along scored lines.