We offered this bread today as part of our first Lent Lunch to take place in the new Parish Room. Nobody minded that we're still using Christmas napkins (and our beautiful new Christmas tablecloth lovingly embroidered by....somebody).
The church has a noble tradition of offering lunches over Lent to which anyone is invited - the ingredients being gratitude that we have so much and remembering to eat simply so that other can simply eat. Our lives are generally not simple. We consume too much of everything because we can.
We are fortunate to be able to serve the lunches this year in a room on the High Street. The street and the church have too long been separated. So church and community come together in that delightful blurring of boundaries you tend to get in rural and semi rural ministry. We need those blurred edges so that the welcome is endlessly wide to those who do not profess a recognised Christian faith but who are nonetheless entirely at ease with the idea that we come together to eat, give and be grateful.
Simply bread. But its symbolic status in the Christian faith, and in modern consciousness ('our daily bread') make it a potent representation for Lent (even when it is accompanied by two home made soups and three different cheeses).
Do you have to be a Christian to give and be grateful? Of course not, but Christian theology allows the church to draw on more than just the physical - in the breaking of bread we perceive Jesus, the bread of life 'in which all our hungers are satisfied (Common Worship Liturgy for Holy Communion).
Lent is a deep stream that feeds the life of the church for six weeks: Jesus in the desert, what really counts in life ('Man shall not live by bread alone...') the need to act justly on behalf of others.
A basket of bread. A Lent lunch. A hungry world. Gratitude, giving and penance. That's a lot of food for thought.