John 6:48 [Jesus said], “I am that bread of life.”
A small lad rolls over from a night of fitfull sleep and melodramaticly streches out his arms and legs as boys are prone to do. His hand knocks over an empty bottle and pushes away yesterday’s newspaper. His leg kicks the dumpster and is pulled back in pain as he sits up and holds his leg. Tears run down his dirty cheeks, and it is then he hears his stomach rumble. Hunger pangs are a familiar feeling. There is no place to wash up, and he had slept in his clothes. He peers around the side of the dumpster and slowly creeps out into the alley. Dirty hands are run through his hair as he walks out onto the street. The sun is shining while business people and store clerks are bustling about preparing for another day.
The lad is mostly ignored as he squints through the morning rays. The grocery is open on the corner, the smell of coffee wafts through the air from the café, and the bank is rolling out the awnings to protect their afluent customers. Ahh… he sighs as someone opens the door of the bakery. Bread… fresh, baked this morning, and still warm. All of this you could tell from just one whiff when the door was opened by the steady line of customers.
The lad makes his way nonchalantly down the busy street until he is just across the street from the bakery. He waits for a time and then… Yes, there she came down the street. Walking with a purpose towards the bakery as if the smell were drawing her like a magnet. As she walked through the door of the bakery, the lad made his dash across the street to lean against the hydrant on the corner. As if orchestrated in a theater, each player knew his role and place. The lad waited, pretending to ignore the drama that was about to play out on this street corner. Without looking he could hear the door creak open several times. He knew the number of customers and he knew which creak was hers. This was not the first time – this was a morning routine.
The lad had his pride, and it forced him to pretend to ignore the approaching steps of the lady as she returned home to prepare breakfast for her family. He heard her pause and ask, “Johnnie, you want a roll this morning?”
As on the previous morning, and for that matter on many previous mornings, the lad turned and was quick to reply as his belly did flip flops at the smell of the bread, “No, thank you, Ma’am. I’m not hungry this morning!”
“Well, Johnnie,” she replied with a knowing smile, “How about your sister? Maybe you could take a few rolls to her for me!”
“I suppose I could do that. She is very hungry and not likely to get much to eat today!” Johnnie reached out his hand and took two rolls from the lady’s basket and moved on down the street. He continued to walk slowly until the lady was out of sight. He ravenously ate the rolls. He has no sister – at least none that he knows of – he just needed bread, but didn’t know how to ask. Bread…
I heard a minister speak at a missionary conference from the title, “The World Needs Bread.” I presume that this is where I first started thinking about being the bread man. My world involves death rooms that stretch across South St. Louis and around Washington, and it includes hospital and emergency rooms in St. Charles. In each of these rooms are hungry people, people that are hungry for the Bread of Life. Many, if not most, don’t realize they are hungry for that Bread, some are too proud to ask for that Bread, and others don’t even know that this Bread exsists. Nevertheless, one thing is certain, they all need the Bread.
That’s where I come in; I’m the Bread man. I’m not the baker, just the delivery boy. Many years ago I met someone who gave me some of that Bread. Almost 40 years have come and gone since that day, and still I am giving away that same Bread. As a child they told me a story about how all this got started. A small child had 5 small loaves of bread and two fishes. A man who called himself the Bread of Life took that bread, blessed it, and began to divide it up among the multitude. Amazingly enough, those 5 small loaves fed 5000 with leftovers, and another time it fed 4000 with leftovers to share.
Throughout the centuries, women and men continue to bless and pass out that Bread of Life. After 2000 years that Bread has not diminished in either size or power. That Bread is just waiting for the Bread man to bless it, break it, and give it out. Again, that is who I am, the Bread man. Each day I step into the lives of sick, afflicted, diseased, and dying. Each without exception need Bread. All are hungry, and some are even starving; each are praying, “Give us this day our daily Bread!” Sometimes I have to explain what this Bread is because they have never seen it before. Other times they know about the Bread, but have never tasted it, and so my job is to entice them by saying, “Taste and see that the Bread is Good.” Some are like the lad above and too proud to admit they need the Bread, and so I have to present the Bread in such a manner that they can save their pride and still eat the Bread.
Finally, there is the good ground; they spent their life eating Bread, and while they may have eaten Bread earlier that same day, there is rejoicing at the arrival of the Bread man. Like little birds, their mouths are open, waiting for more Bread I’ve held their heads and frail bodies in my arms and fed them the Bread, one small broken piece at a time. I held their hands and fed them Bread as I watched their life here on earth slip away and am assured that the Bread of Life takes over on the other side.
Yes, I am the Bread man, breaking Bread from house to house! It’s not uncommon for the phone or pager to ring, and when answered, a nurse that recognizes the need for Bread is calling for the Bread man to come. I have a hungry patient… she is sick… he is dying… a family is greiving… would the Bread man come and feed them Bread? Often the door is shut, and my children are in bed; I don’t want to rise and give them Bread. Not because of friendship do I rise, but because of the importunity of a hungry world crying out for Bread, I rise and give the needed as he needeth. Why, because I am the Bread man.
Word for reflection...
Luke 11:2-11 “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (3) Give us day by day our daily bread. (4) And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (5) And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; (6) For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? (7) And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. (8) I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth… (11) If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”
John 6:48 [Jesus said], “I am that bread of life.”
Acts 2:46 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”