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Communion Meditations (2015)

Why Unleavened Bread?

Originally scheduled for April 26

Have you ever asked yourself why Christ unleavened bread to participate in his meal of all meals? The choice of this lowly form of bread was not accidental, and carries with it meaning for the Christian today.

The most obvious point is that it is a part of the Passover meal. It retains its symbolism from the Old Testament, from which we may note two things:

·         The reason it’s unleavened bread is that there is no time for the yeast to rise before the Israelites leave Egypt. They are in a hurry.

·         As Moses makes clear later on, (or what we would call yeast) is the symbol of evil within the people. Unleavened bread therefore is a symbol of the people purging themselves of their sins.

The Christian application this is fairly simple. The question is a pilgrim in this world; “just passing through.” We not to make ourselves at home in this world, but always be prepared for the journey ahead — even the journey through the grave.

Unleavened bread is also a symbol of poverty. Baking regular bread costs more, takes longer and (in the technology of the time) is easier to burn. You might make a simple comparison between homemade bread and pancakes. In our time we associate homemade bread with do-it-yourself gourmet cooks. Pancakes are associated with fundraising meals run by men who are much better at barbecue and pancakes. The Christian application for this is also quite simple; the Christian should accept what he has. If it has pleased the Lord God Almighty to make you a rich man with a taste for gourmet bread, so be it. The rest of us can just eat pancakes.

Perhaps the most unused symbolism of unleavened bread comes with its physical characteristics. If you take the unleavened bread of the type normally served for Passover you will find that it brings literal meaning to the phrase, “breaking bread.” You don’t slice it; you don’t cut it up you break it. When you break it, it breaks with a snap — just like breaking a bone. The symbol of your Savior’s body should be very clear in this.

Breaking bread has one other characteristic: the only way to share unleavened bread is to break it. Communion is a shared meal; if you going to share that bread, you have to break it. By taking that shared bread you announce your brotherhood with all Christians of all times. As you hear that bread snapped between your fingers, you should hear your Lord’s body — and you should feel the brotherhood that he established. So it is that he prayed that we might all be one, just as he and the Father are one. Remember that fellowship as you partake. Without the breaking of bread, there is no sharing; without the breaking of our Lord’s body, there is no fellowship.

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