Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Preacher’s Corner
‘If you don’t eat your bread, you’ll grow up skinny’
My grandmother (Daddy’s mother) worried that I did not eat light bread. Slices of plain white bread were always on her table. We did not have bread with every meal at my house. This represented a clear difference between the ways of my two grandmothers, for mother’s mother was part of our household, and it was she who determined what was and was not on our daily table.
Grandmother Winter would solemnly admonish me that, “If you don’t eat some bread, you’ll grow up skinny like your father.” How I wish her prophecy had been correct!
Grandmother had lots of old fashioned things in her kitchen. There was a butter churn (I have it now) and a couple of flatirons, once placed on the wood stove and heated for pressing clothes.
By the time I came along, they had been relegated to doorstops, but Grandmother used to tell me how hard it was to iron clothes by this method. (I wish we had saved those antiques when Grandmother broke up housekeeping.)
Mother’s mother was famous for her rolls. They appeared every Sunday, and Saturday was wonderful because of the yeasty smell that pervaded her kitchen. She would knead her rolls and put the dough in a bowl covered with a towel to rise. This process had to be repeated several times, and I recall how vigorously she used her rolling pin, flour, and a wooden board to make these delightful confections. I do not have her recipe. There was no recipe. Grandmother simply made her famous rolls, and that was that!
One of the few places I eat homemade bread is at communion services in our church.
We do not have homemade bread every Sunday — it is the mark of a special occasion for us. I hope it is not a sin that I enjoy the taste of the bread, as well as its spiritual significance.
John Calvin, the ancestor of our tradition, believed that ordinary, leavened bread ought to be used in the communion service, a symbol of God’s provision of “daily bread,” as mentioned in The Lord’s Prayer.
Other traditions have insisted on unleavened bread, as used by Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper, according to the provisions for celebrating the Passover as set forth in the Hebrew book of Exodus.
Recently I attended a communion service in an Episcopal Church, and lo and behold, here was a loaf of homemade, leavened bread, being used for the sacrament; and by contrast, you can find many a Presbyterian or Methodist Church that uses the unleavened wafers.
So the old shibboleths are passing away! There was a time when variance from received practice would have occasioned frowns, if not outright declarations of heresy.
More than my personal preference, I am happy to see the various churches respecting each other’s differences, and even embracing them.
It is a basic lesson I learned from the ways my two grandmothers arranged their tables.
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