Today, at Sunday church, we broke bread and remembered.
And I remembered the way my bare feet felt against the warm asphalt, swinging my sandals in my left hand, barely nineteen in a floral skirt. We walked to church and wore no shoes simply because we could—because the cooler breeze somehow mixed with the leftover summer humidity making the air feel sweet to our senses. I’d sink my toes—chipped and calloused—into the soft soil of the soccer field, singing with my roommate whose voice was light and soft, like the song our finch friends would sing on the windowsill of our third-floor apartment.
Our church met in a dorm lobby and then an old school building, taken over by the university a few years before. The façade was brown brick with windows that made you feel like it held secrets. And it probably did, considering a boy with thin legs and arms once showed me how to kick the door the right way to get inside. The inside smelled of mothballs and dust, and we met in the room most everyone called The Commons—a room birthed out of the university Student Leadership Council. And there we sank down into age-old couches—the same couches we sat on each Friday when university students would come and share their music. My friends and I would sport shirts—cheering on our musical friends. They’d sing. Cleveland is for lovers. We felt so young and alive.
But Sundays made me come alive in a different way. We made some semblance of a circle—usually picking up where we left off the week before—tackling the history and meaning of each chapter, guided by a wise man who’d spent years studying the Word. And that particular day—we broke bread with doughnuts. Sprinkled, frosted, glazed doughnuts and grape juice. And deep down I wondered if it was somehow sacrilegious for us to break bread with something so sweet and good.
Bowed heads and open hearts, we listened around the room as people shared their burdens and praises and blessings that always come in different forms and shapes and sizes. And I sat around a room with a group of strangers realizing the impact of our devotion to our God, and realizing that somehow—through their quaking, passionate voices, community was being formed.
I hope that one day, as you grow older, you will look back and realize that you became a better person and a better follower of Christ—that you were equipped and able to go out and do what God would have you do—because you attended church here together—because you shared community with one another.
And church began to grow in me and grow out of me, and the shades of my soul were lifted for the first time. I began to realize that church was more than a building or a system or a format. That church was sitting in the school cafeteria and talking about the history of Acts or Bonheoffer or the geometry test I failed the week before. Church was picking up a handful of friends and walking each week into the nursing home to visit a wrinkled old woman named Mrs. Olive and a smart looking man named Mr. Clark. Church was crying on the car ride home because their life was changing ours. And it was sitting in Taco Bell after church and always buying one extra taco because a man we met, homeless, would always come and never have enough to eat.
And breaking bread and remembering the grace bestowed upon us became more than a mere prayer and chew and gulp. It became life and breath and word and act. It became monthly community dinners, with an apartment filled with friends and loud voices. A stained sofa. Bananagrams. Huge bags of ice. And Lord knows how we managed to feed everyone each time. But on mixed-matched plastic plates and an assortment of food, we always did. And breaking bread became the act that we partook in each and every time a body of believers was together. Each meal. Each snack. Each late night run to get coffee or frozen yogurt.
Our lives, if lived to his glory and praise in community with one another, are a sweet aroma. They need not be perfect. There need not be a perfect time or a perfect moment or perfectly spoken words to lead you into communion with God. Each meal, each gathering, and each day, is a time to remember what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We are not forced to wait until a day where communion is offered. We are extended the opportunity to share in communion with one another each and every day.
And let me tell you, my friends, it is the sweetest experience I have known. For the wish of that pastor came true. I am a better person for walking to church barefoot and breaking bread with doughnuts.