By Rev. Jenny Phillips | Minister for Environmental Stewardship and Advocacy
“I can’t make bread–it’s too scary.” This is what a colleague said to me recently when I was teaching some folks how to make bread at a retreat. She said that whenever she tried to make it, it never turned out quite right, so she would become frustrated and not try again for a long time.
Like many good things in life, making good bread takes some practice. Starting with simple recipes helps. Making it over and over again helps even more.
And like many good things in life, bread tastes better when it is made and eaten in community. Many (well-washed) hands make better bread, and the process of making bread in community enhances our experiences of eating it during communion.
When we use our hands to mix and knead dough, and when we witness firsthand the transformation from dough to bread, we simultaneously demystify the breadmaking process and draw closer to the mystery and miracle that is a loaf of bread. In doing so, we become less focused on the mystery of how bread can be the body of Christ and more focused on the miracle of the God who animates grain and yeast and Christ and us.
Still, there is something that scares me about bread. Something that might resonate with those who are deeply mindful of their place in God’s creation, and with those who labor for hunger and justice for all people in all places, and with those who take seriously the notion that communion is a global enterprise.[pull_quote_right]There is something that scares me about bread. Something that might resonate with those who take seriously the notion that communion is a global enterprise.[/pull_quote_right]
What scares me about bread is its increasing scarcity.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is about to release the second part of its Fifth Assessment Report. The IPCC is the leading international body on the assessment of climate change. It is made up of respected scientists from around the world who are tracking and reporting on climate change and its impacts. One of those scientists happens to live next door to me in North Seattle, and he’s particularly concerned with making sure that people like us hear about the work they’re doing.
The report says that climate change is going to mean less food for more people. Median crop yields could drop by as much as two percent every decade for the rest of the century, even as demand soars 14 percent every decade through 2050.
Food scarcity is scary. Particularly for those who are already food insecure due to geography, politics, and economics. Threats to sources of basic staples like grain threaten the health of the whole body of Christ.
When we pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” we are praying not only on behalf of our individual selves or our families or our churches, but also on behalf of all people everywhere. And to truly live this prayer, we must work for the flourishing of God’s creation, that daily bread might indeed be a reality for all.