church isn’t a DENOMINATION
Baltimore – where the “Star Spangled Banner” was written is a nice place. That’s about as effusive I wish to be about this small but strangely charming city.
Again though, like Denver and certain parts of Houston, it’s the people that make the place special and I mean extra special.
Wandering the centre city of Baltimore took me a few minutes and after talking to a very nice police man (in a fast pursuit vehicle, all the criminals must be overweight) I made my way towards the meet up point for my lift to #BreakingBread. Thank you Julie, I would never have found it on my own!
So three ministers walked into a church, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian. And that’s not a joke – Jenn, Sara and Jason run Breaking Bread. I don’t know the history or who did what with whom but Breaking Bread is another one of those simple church ideas that are just outstandingly wonderful. It’s not rocket science to do this sort if thing but wow it is very powerful, and those of us who haven’t thought of it before go, “I wish I’d thought of that!”
All it is (and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting it down, I’m not I’m raising it as high as I can and jumping up and down shouting “WE ALL SHOULD DO THIS…”) all it is, in essence, is a simple service, a simple meal and and a simple Bible study. #BreakingBread’s brilliance comes from two things – the atmosphere and the people.
I may not have the order of the next bit quite right but you’ll get the general idea.
The night I went Rev Jason wasn’t there and Rev Jenn was leading and Rev Sara was in charge of the food. You kind of just walk in and do stuff. I was ordered (nicely) to help lay the tables – cutlery and candles were what I did, and they look great.
Being the summer holidays they weren’t expecting a full house only about 20 (I’d love a Bible Study of about 20). Four tables were set up, some food was prepared (mainly asparagus, THE vegetable of Breaking Bread) and things began. It started with a simple service of singing and prayers and a very simple (but amazingly profound) Communion service in which we all stood and served each other the bread. It was a very moving experience and God was there, in the eyes of the homeless guy across the circle from me, in the smile of the person handing me the bread. It was another Holy experience in a borrowed church hall.
The wine was shared around our tables and the act of moving from one place to another between the elements was great. It made me feel like what we were doing was communal (all in the circle together) and yet also individual as we drank from our own cups in our places by the table. Again very simple ideas brilliantly done.
After the service (which was maybe 10 minutes) we went for the food like ravenous beasts, sharing talk and laughs at the various tables. This wasn’t rushed and there was a feeling of community there – hard to describe but there was a ‘freeness’ to the proceedings that can only come from everyone wanting the same outcome. I’m sure that doesn’t do it justice but it’s hard to describe.
After seconds Jenn (the Presbyterian (yay for John Calvin)) led us in a Bible study that I will not describe here as I intend to use the idea at our church (she’ll never know!!). Once again the way it was done was simple yet the content was very thought provoking and the discussions at our table was deep and serious.
It was a wonderful night (everyone helped with the clearing up as well) in which a stranger from a long way away was made to feel very much part of a worshipping community. He was offered food and spiritual comfort, companionship and conversation, teaching and love. It was all very New Testament, early church, true Christian Community in action stuff and I loved it. I’d go every week if I didn’t live 8,500 miles away.
Thank you to the Breaking Bread team, you are the real presence of God at work!!