Bread and Wine. The stuff of an ordinary meal with friends, gathered in a room in a pub. Except for me at least bread and wine isn’t an ordinary meal, bread maybe but wine well that’s for the weekend or the day off or if we have a guest to stay.
Wine is anything but ordinary. Bread is though, we toast it, we make sandwiches, we even pray for it ‘give us this day our daily bread’.
The other day a familiar face called at the Vicarage door looking for food. The nuns were apparently out so I’m obviously the second choice.
I try to be graceful when he calls, after all aside from the inconvenience he goes away thankful if I have filled his bag with a few bits.
So I headed to the cupboard, found some baked beans and a bit of fruit.
I gave them to him and looking rather disappointed he said “have you got any bread?”
Bread is ordinary food. It fills us up.
Wine though isn’t ordinary. We don’t have it every day, at least I don’t.
And so whilst bread and wine may have been commonplace for Jesus and his friends and as symbols they made sense, ‘bread for his body, wine for his blood’ as we sometimes put it.
I’ve been wondering whether something else might be revealed here, something about the ordinary and the extra ordinary. Bread for the ordinary. Wine for the extraordinary.
In that upper room Jesus and his followers were gathered around a table. Jesus talks of bread for his body, they break and share it together. They knew bread, the stuff of daily life.
But then comes the wine, Jesus talks of wine for his blood, they share the cup but wine is not like bread. It has a more extravagant taste, a taste of something other.
Even if you don’t like wine, you get the idea that it isn’t a drink we consume to keep us hydrated, it’s a more than that. Maybe it is to use that famous quote from Benjamin Franklin ‘constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’
The more I have thought more about this, the ordinary and extraordinary, revealed through the bread and the wine, the more interesting it is.
Received together it seems to me that as well as uniting us with that upper room and Jesus invitation to ‘do this in remembrance of him’ there is more, indeed that’s why the Eucharist continues to sustain us through our journey of faith, for through it we are given new insights and encouraged to grow in faith.
One of those insights for me has been how this bread and wine can invite us to think about the God who is with us in the ordinary, through the bread the stuff of daily life. But also the God who through the extraordinary taste of wine lifts our hearts to dream of more, of the kingdom.
I for one need both, food for the journey now, that assurance that Christ is with us and a foretaste of what is to come, a hope of a better future, where there will be no more ‘mourning and crying and pain’ as the Book of Revelation puts it.
So here in this sacred meal we are both sustained for the present but also taste eternity too. At every Eucharist a small bit of bread is placed in our hands, it seems like nothing much. We take a sip of wine. Eating and drinking, it’s what we do every day.
However In this meal though mysteriously and beautifully we meet the Jesus who shared in the ordinariness of our life but invites us too to share an extraordinary life with him.
For me, day by day, week by week this is a meal which is ‘constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’
Thanks be to God.