Bread is bread…right?

I know that there are many various beliefs on what kind of bread “should” be used for Holy Communion.  Among the various beliefs is the popular notion that it must be unleavened bread.  I know scripture talks about unleavened bread.  I for one have never used it for Holy Communion…not that I am against it, I just haven’t used it.  Here at Salem we have used flat bread, bread machine bread, super market bread, bread bowl bread, wafers, etc.  My main criteria is that I don’t want any sliced bread.  But at our final First Communion class I asked the kids and parents if they wanted to make their own bread or just have me take care of it.  One of the students suggested that they would like cinnamon bread.


…because bread is bread…right?

In Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther poses the question:  How can eating and drinking do all this? He then answers his question by saying “It is not eating and drinking that does this, but the words, ‘given and shed for you for the remission of sins’.  These words, along with eating and drinking, are the main thing in the sacrament.  And whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins.”  That says to me that bread is bread…and what is important is hearing the words of promise.  So…is cinnamon bread OK?

My faith tells me that it is OK…but I can see how some people might be a little put off and maybe even a little offended.  So with that I go back to Paul where he says that if eating meat causes someone to stumble in their faith, then I won’t eat meat (etc…).  Basically…he won’t exercise his Christian freedom in such a way that might cause someone who is weaker in the faith to stumble.  I can respect that.

But then I was thinking that I could explain the cinnamon as representing the “sweetness of Christ”.  I am not sure if that would fly.  So I don’t know.

Would you use cinnamon bread for Holy Communion or any other “usual” bread?

Just something I am pondering…


6 thoughts on “Bread is bread…right?

  1. This is probably in the same category of whether one should use “the” cup (the actual one that Jesus used???) or “a” cup. Cinnamon bread might make a participant think on the taste of the bread instead of thinking about Christ’s sacrifice and grace.

    BTW, I think that wafers and flat bread would be “unleavened.” Leavening is what makes bread rise, ie yeast, sour dough, and salt-rising bread (whatever that is).

  2. In such an instance, I would have to consider two questions: 1-Why am I changing the elements I use? and 2- Can I maintain good order while makig such a change?

    As for the first question, let me offer an example. When a friend of mine presided at her first Nativity service with a new congregation, she chose to use champagne for the wine. She told her congregation that Christmas was a special time, so they would celebrate with a special bottle of wine. Hence the champagne. She is doing the same for Easter next week. Needles to say, she raised a few eyebrows. Is she wrong? Perhaps not…can’t we say wine is wine?

    In my estimation, there cannot be a more holy time than when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper when ever we do it. To me, switching to champagne to make it more of a celebration in such a case is an error in judgement. She even pops the cork at the altar. Again, not for me, but I’m not her.

    That being said, our congregation has a tradition that we use home made flat bread during Lent. Last year, my first with this church, the bread was a challenge at best. Still, I honored their tradition. This year, fresh bread didn’t get mentiond until the Sunday following Ash Wednesday. I expressed my desire to stay with wafers, but they wanted bread. So for Lent, I stopped by the super market each Sunday morning and bought Middle Eastern Nan (flat bread). who knows what we will use next year? I would say either wafers, or the Nan. But we won;t go back to the home made stuff…it crumbles too much and makes a mess.

    which brings up another question…vacuum the crumbs…or pick them up by hand and return them to the earth? I choose to do tha latter.

    • You bring up good points (btw…For me “popping the cork” at the altar is going a little too far for me as well).

      Depending on who is on altar guild for the month we usually either have homemade bread or fresh store bought bread. Wafers are used for those who request them. Wine is normally served but we have grape juice available as well.

      That being said…you are right in asking the question “Why are we changing the elements?” Is using cinnamon bread serving a good purpose while maintaining good order? In the case of my First Communion class it is a case of them just liking cinnamon bread (while still understanding that it would still make Communion valid). At the time of the request we did discuss it and I did mention that it would work but what would the other people in the congregation say? They all agreed that it would probably be better not to use the cinnamon bread. But their request did get me thinking thus promoting the question.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Save the cinnamon bread for the coffee hour after worship.
    Then folks can ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at the delicious bread,
    and not during the distribution.

    We don’t want to draw undo attention to ourselves
    while leading worship; the elements are that also-
    they are the means by which Jesus come to us.
    Ordinary wine/ordinay bread= extraordinary savior.
    We certainly don’t want to confuse people…
    I think.

    Sadly, if the ‘special’ bread becomes the focus,
    then future bread bakers will try to ‘outdo’ one another
    in specialty breads. Not what you want to foster.

    I had a colleague who used champagne for Easter celebrations,
    but he had a tendancy for the dramatic, and didn’t last too
    long in ministry.

    • I hear what you are saying but people trying to out do one another and therefore miss the point of Holy Communion. That is a real possibility. Thank you for that thought.

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