February 2016

Dear Friends in Christ,

Many of you know that I bake bread. I learned the basics from my mother when I was a girl — who learned from her mother — who, no doubt, learned from her mother. The art of proofing the yeast and mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise is something that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Every culture, of course, has its ‘bread.’ Lefse, of course, but also tortillas, focaccia, and pita bread are just a few which come to mind. Surely you can name others.

Even in this time when ‘gluten free’ is embraced by many, bread is still recognized as somehow symbolic. We may speak of ‘breaking bread’ together, for instance, even if there is no actual bread on the table. And yes, bread holds a central place throughout the Bible.

Indeed, some of my favorite stories of God working among us have to do with bread. In particular, I have always especially loved Psalm 78:25: “Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance.” Just imagine that: eating the bread of angels. While the Psalmist is probably speaking of God providing manna for the people of Israel when they were in the wilderness, it seems to me that in all those cases where bread is received and shared in the Bible, it is ‘the bread of angels.’ For God has provided it and blessed it.

During our Lenten Midweek Services we will focus in on some of those familiar stories of bread in the Bible. In addition, while I will be here at First for most of our Wednesday nights, we are fortunate that we will be joining with Bethlehem Lutheran Church in DeKalb and Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore in terms of sharing the preaching. This means that we will continue to worship at our own churches, but on a couple of Wednesday nights you will get to hear from our neighboring pastors. (The schedule for Lent is included on page 7 in this newsletter.)

In addition, a number of members of each congregation agreed to write brief reflections on the familiar story of The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) where bread also plays a central role. Thanks to Barbara Henson for recruiting writers from First for this project. We are also grateful to Pastor John Seraphine for pulling these together into a Lenten Devotional Book which will be shared in all three congregations.

There are many ways God’s people ‘break bread’ together. We do it weekly as we share the bread and wine of Holy Communion. We ‘break bread’ over coffee hour after worship. And during Lent this year we will do so on Wednesdays at 5:30 soup suppers and then in worship at 6:30 (please note the change in time from last year) as we are ‘fed’ by the stories of bread in scripture.

And while we will not do so in the same space with our fellow Lutherans in the area, we will be on the same path together, being fed by the same gifts from God’s Word. I’m looking forward to it. I hope you will be able to join us in sharing ‘the bread of angels’ this Lent.

Peace to you and Many Blessings,

Pastor Janet