The subversive nature of bread

Community. What does it mean? I’ve been thinking about the word – the concept – a lot recently. Today A and I received an email saying we have been accepted into a new loft community designed for those involved in the arts. While the arts are another discussion, I wonder what it is to design a community. I get these great ideas of having people over for dinner on a regular basis, of learning things from my neighbors, of being connected to others.

I read stories from the ancient world and from my New Testament professor, Dr. David May, that tell of the early Christ followers living differently – of slaves and rich landowners sharing the same meal. And while that might sound quaint and lovely, it is subversive in a culture where everyone has a particular place – and that particular place dictates the bread you eat. It was a sign that something new was occurring – that the narratives given by the empire and by the prevalent culture were false. The new age wasn’t fully realized, but it was starting. And so they ate, remembering the One who said that the wine and bread were his blood and body.

Community is subversive. And I’m not entirely sure what that means in present-day America.  I’m not sure what it means for my home in St. Louis. I’ve asked my friend Joshua (for whatever reason, it doesn’t feel right to call you Josh…) to make me a communion set. Joshua and his wife, Alyssa (who is on the BWIMMO Advisory Board), are started an intentional community in Liberty, MO. I’ve watched over the last several months as the idea has been revised again and again, as new people have been brought in. A and I have talked about using it as a centerpiece on our table, as a visible reminder that every time we gather folks together – whatever their background, purpose or religion – it is sacred. That by meeting together, forging community, admitting that we need others, we are doing something holy. And we pray that somehow, we can be signs of the New Age. Hopefully subversive.

(photo credit)



Filed under reflection

6 responses to “The subversive nature of bread

  1. Amen.

    I think community is most boldly embodied, scripturally, in Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom. These stories were so subversive! Especially the parable of the leaven, which this blog reminded me of. In this parable, it’s almost like Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God is like a virus, working its way throughout all creation; traditional understandings of leaven in scripture held that yeast is a bad thing. Certainly not anything a good Jew would be putting in their bread…But Jesus turns the metaphor on its head!

    Same, too, with the mustard seed–mustard was forbidden from being grown in Jewish gardens, as it was an invasive species that tended to completely overtake everything else in its path.

    Like the Kingdom of God, authentic community works its way in slowly, transforming all who come into contact with it, providing a place of refuge for the broken and rejected.

    I’d like to hear more about your arts community. Sounds fascinating!

    PS–I NEVER refer to myself as “Josh.” As long as I can remember, I’ve introduced myself as Joshua. Other people just like to take liberties. Not that it’s a big deal. But thanks for the shout out. 😛

    • Ah ha! Then Joshua it remains. On the arts community, there is a building of lofts opening at the end of the summer. It is income-restricted housing geared toward arts and those who do cultural work (since A is a choir director and I have a background in writing, we fit). You’d love it, because there will actually be a pottery studio in the building. We were interviewed the other day, and questions about how we could contribute to both our neighbors and the surrounding neighborhood came up.

  2. Fascinating. For me, community is both compelling and little repelling. I want greater intimacy and fellowship, yet a part of me draws back in knowing and being known so well. I feel it both draws the humanity in me while some of the flesh protests. Hope to hear more from you on this subject. 🙂

  3. LKSeat

    Jennifer, thanks for your thoughtful blog posting. And, as usual, I appreciate the suitable picture you used with it. — Shalom!

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