The Bread of Life
by Kerrin Smith

In preparation for the bishopʼs visit this fall, Krista asked me if I would be interested in baking bread for communion, as the bishop always prefers to use loaf bread or pita along with a single chalice—”the rubrical intent of the Prayer Book rites. One bread, one cup, one body.” I eagerly accepted, excited by the prospect of spending a little time in my kitchen considering what constitutes good communion bread. With fond memories of the sweet, earthy, whole-wheat loaves used in my childhood church, I began my research.

I came to learn that for a loaf to function properly, it needs to be dense and dust-free, so it can be easily broken without producing crumbs and dipped in wine without turning to mush and creating “wine soup.” I experimented with a collection of recipes I found on the Internet—some leavened, some not—and finally settled on the one below, adapted from a recipe used by All Saints Episcopal Church of Northfield, Minnesota.

At the request of Carrol and [then-Interim Vicar] Peter, I have continued to bake this bread each Sunday and have been happy for the opportunity. Regardless of how crazy my week has been, I find that, as when I come to worship at Trinity, my world calms and comes into focus when I bake this bread. One of the things I like most about this recipe is that it only uses ingredients that would have been available in the Middle East during the time of Christ (albeit in slightly different form).

I love the smell and texture of these ingredients, both individually and collectively. I love the way the dough yields to my rolling pin and how easily it is shaped. I love the acts of cutting a cross in each loaf, of brushing the baking loaves with olive oil, and finally of pulling the risen loaves from the oven, piping hot and golden brown. Most of all, I love seeing a loaf carried forth by a child, consecrated at the altar, and shared amongst us on bended knee.

Baking communion bread is truly a spiritual experience. If you like to bake, or if you would like to learn how, I would encourage you to consider joining me in taking turns baking communion bread. Simply let me or Carrol know when youʼd like to make it, and weʼll put you on the calendar. Whether you make it just once or on a regular basis, Iʼm sure you will find it a rich, worshipful experience.

Peace, Kerrin