John 6:49, 51a. “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died….
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”
Manna and living bread are both necessary, because they feed two different aspects of our lives, together offering a full range of necessary spiritually nutritional requirements. To live on manna only is to be bound to the physical world – declaring that our physical senses define the limits of our world and what is real. And yet we all have physical needs – food, water, clothing, shelter, security, rest, affection, recreation, education, health care – that are fed by manna.
Living bread feeds and nourishes our interior life, the transcendental and mystical aspects of ourselves. To eat only living bread, however, is often an attempt to escape, to idealize and spiritualize, and live in the clouds. When this happens, we are “of no earthly value.” That surely is not way of Jesus. Let us not allow it be our way either.
*Originally written for and published by Forward Day by Day.
Father, I am a former Roman Catholic who is attempting to find the path that God wants me to take. My husband is considering the Episcopal Church. When you speak of the Living Bread, does your church believe in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? Please be assured, this is not a “gotcha” question, this is very important to me and I would appreciate some input in my spiritual journey.
Cindy, like most things in the Episcopal Church there is a broad range of belief. In general, though, we would talk about “real presence.” The real presence of Jesus is in the bread and wine. That does not mean that the bread (or wine) turns into the body (or blood) to the exclusion of being bread (or wine). They are both at the same time. It is bread and wine that contain the real presence Jesus. We do not try to pinpoint or define when or how that happens. We do say, however, that by the time we get to the Great Amen of the eucharistic prayer, the body and blood are present in the bread and wine.
I hope this helps. If you choose to attend an Episcopal Church you are welcome to receive communion. It is offered to all baptized Christians regardless of denomination. Please let me know if you have other questions.
God’s blessing and guidance be with you on this journey.