Thursday, December 20, 2012

the house of bread

It has been raining all day, with the promise of snow forecast. A little while ago, snow appeared for some minutes, but now it is dry. Nothing comes down from the sky and darkness has fully veiled the city on the eve of the year’s longest night.

Within a week a menacing shadow has seemed to grow. Senseless shootings dominate the news from west in Portland to east in Connecticut. Two nights ago, two friends told of touches with suicide and another told of a friend suffering from sudden fits of uncontrollable anxiety.

For many years at Easter now, we have celebrated the breaking of the “lechem onee”, a Hebrew phrase meaning “the bread of affliction.” The story is told that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took this bread and when he broke it (as in the midst of affliction), he gave thanks and offered it to his disciples to share with him.

I have found myself wanting Jesus to share this same bread with me this Christmastime but have wondered, “Where is he? Why does he not offer to eat it with us now? Must we wait for another time?”

And the answer is “no”. He shares it with us now. For Bethlehem, the place of his birth, declares this by its very name. Literally translated, Bethlehem is “the house of bread.”  

This is the Christian answer to suffering:  solidarity. Better still: compassion—which, in Latin, means “with bread”.

“Where is God in such terrible times?”

Christianity says that God is sharing our suffering with us, like one who comes with bread, the bread of affliction. We believe that this house of bread called Bethlehem is here now, and we are all but forgotten--for God is with us.

I will worship this hidden God who comes in solidarity, with compassion. Will you please join me?  None of us wishes to be alone.

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