This blog post was written by Shelli Bakken, who often bakes communion bread for Spirit Garage. Thanks for sharing your stories and your bread, Shelli!
Can I do that?
I’ve been honored to be one of the Spirit Garage communion bread bakers for the past 7 years. I was asked to join a crew of rotating volunteers and was surprised that “just any old member” could do something so…sacred. I grew up attending a Lutheran church where communion was a ritual that happened once a month. The body of Christ was a crisp, tiny flavorless wafer that stuck to your tongue. The blood of Christ was grape juice poured into tiny plastic cups inserted into a polished silver tray. Communion Sunday was the best attended Sunday, the one my family tried to make a point to attend.
The sacrament of communion was special in its presentation, but as a kid the sacred nature of it was lost on me.
Remembering the Point
One of the first times I really remember communion at Spirit Garage was a Sunday when a visitor who had come in from the sidewalk, possibly enticed by the buffet of snacks we serve each week, asked me what was going on. At that point I had been organizing the bread bakers and managed the schedule. Some Sundays the main thing on my mind was “did the volunteer bring the bread this week? I don’t see it up there!”. I tried to explain communion to someone who hadn’t heard of it. I don’t remember how I stumbled through explaining the sacrifice made to forgive our sins. What I do remember is my surprise that something I took for granted was a new concept for anyone. It really made me think about the “why” of this sacred event. At that point I tried to stop focusing on the job of providing bread and more of the point of the ritual.
Making the Bread
The recipe for the communion bread at Spirit Garage has evolved a bit over time, but it is basically a whole wheat, slightly sweet, unformed loaf. Most anyone will agree that, when it’s freshly made, it is delicious. It is one of the few things I can actually “bake”, and I enjoy doing it. On the Sunday mornings I’ve volunteered, I have what I guess you’d call a ritual. It involves quiet classical music so as not to wake anyone else, coffee, prayer, and hand washing, of course. I always set aside an extra loaf because, until it gets to church, it’s simply a delicious treat for breakfast.
Communion at Home
On March 22nd, as Spirit Garage was practicing on-line worship in recognition of the need for social distancing related to the new reality of CoViD-19, I was compelled to make communion bread for the at-home experience, as I tend to always have the ingredients handy. I went through my usual routine, boosted with added hand washing, and created a perfect loaf. Communion at home, Church at home, is good for the soul. In a pinch. It gave an added dimension to the experience of worship on line in front of a screen. I will do it again. The sacrament – and the bread – feed me. And I yearn for the next time I can have the honor of doing this task for the people in my community of Spirit Garage. In person. In the flesh.