#1: Bread and wine—a familiar way to start out dinner. You order your meal, the waiter brings you some bread and then brings your wine.
#2: Bread and wine—a simple meal at the end of the day when you’re just a little peckish and want to relax.
#3: Bread and wine—what we eat and drink in the sacrament of Communion.
Why did Jesus choose bread and wine? He could have easily chosen figs and goat milk or apricots and lettuce. Or olives—there were plenty of them around! But imagine being in church, going forward and plucking an olive from a bowl, “Body of Christ.” Then what about the pit? Is it the bones of Jesus? Where do we put it? Okay, bad idea.
We know bread and wine were already established in the Old Testament as symbols, but is it possible that Jesus contemplated something else?
On that day before the night of betrayal and desertion, did he think, “I know Judas is going to betray me. Should I talk about that? Hmm, no, keep that quiet. Shall I tell them to remember me? And how should they to do that?”
Perhaps he was still undecided as he ate his Last Supper and time was running out and then he impulsively picked up his second piece of bread and said, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And maybe the disciples were confused and said, “What are you talking about? Of course the bread is broken! What are you going to do—pick up the loaf with both hands and bite into it? You say it’s your body? Huh? And how could we ever forget you?”
Or maybe there was an immediate sense of sacredness and all conversation stopped so when he offered the cup of wine and said, “This my blood poured out for you,” they were utterly silent. They knew.
Let us cut to 2024. It had been a rough couple of weeks: respiratory illnesses, Wes snowed with referrals in the hospital (why are all these patients getting infections?); caring for a dog I’ll call Cujo, who provided no joy only vomiting, snarling and barking. I was home alone with Cujo and Wes still in the hospital charting. It was way past Last Supper time. I was no longer hungry so I chose door number #2: a slice of bread and glass of wine.
And here is what I discovered: partaking of bread and wine all by yourself can be just as powerful as Communion in church. For one thing, I wasn’t thinking about the usher coming to my pew, or adjusting my pants, standing up straight and figuring out which Communion server I choose.
None of that; just sipping wine, eating bread and thinking about Jesus; about grapes smashed and fermented; about grain harvested, milled and kneaded. Surely he knew how wine and bread came to be. Maybe he thought about it too. No deep theological thoughts here, just eating, drinking and remembering him.
I know not everyone drinks wine or eats bread for that matter. But it is possible to eat and drink and commune with Jesus with whatever you have before you. It’s all about the remembering.