By Todd Handell and Heather Connor
Every Wednesday evening during the season of Lent, the halls of Lexington United Methodist Church were filled with the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread.
Children’s Minister Heather Connor and Youth Pastor Todd Handell co-led a Bible study titled “Baking with the Bible.” Adapted from “Bake with the Bible” by Kendall Vanderslice, this six-week study focused on stories in the Bible that are centered around bread. Each week as the stories were studied, people wondered together while making bread from scratch. From cornmeal cakes to sourdough loaves, this class covered a wide variety of breads all pointing toward the community connection found in breaking bread together.
Baking together wasn’t the only unique component of this study, as it was taught to an intergenerational group ranging in age from 4 to 74. With young children and seasoned members of Lexington UMC, all studied the Scriptures and baked bread together. As they mixed and kneaded doughs, participants not only worked together to bake but also pondered over questions related to each week’s story. Through activities designed to create collaboration, stories were built and shared. Not only did the younger learn from the older, but the grown-ups had the chance to see what valuable things children also bring to the table. It truly was a collaboration of all ages and stages.
From manna in the desert to traveling along the road to Emmaus, each week’s lesson stood independently to allow maximum participation no matter how many weeks a person could attend. But on the weeks where people couldn’t attend, they asked for the Scripture and recipes to have the opportunity to make the bread on their own. Even people who weren’t able to attend the study constantly asked what was being baked when they smelled the scent of the freshly baked bread.
To connect this study with the entire congregation, the recipe of Honey Coriander Crackers from week 1 of the study was baked to be used for communion at the Lexington UMC Maundy Thursday Service. This allowed the congregation to experience a fresh perspective on the unity of the Body of Christ while sharing in this sacred meal.
Some highlights from the study included creating menus with meaning to share a bit of what each participant holds dear in shared dishes; sharing each week’s Scripture lesson from both the Bible and “The Read, Wonder, Listen Storybook Bible”; sharing communion together on the last night of study with sourdough bread made from one of the recipes; and closing each lesson with a shared body prayer, even getting the grown-ups up and jumping.
This study gave us a small glimpse of the beauty that can come from uniting people of all generations through the baking of bread and the study of Scriptures that remind us that Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus shows us the value found in both the young and experienced, listening to the Temple elders as a boy and telling his disciples to let the little children come to him during his ministry.
As we seek new ways to minister to our communities post-COVID, perhaps incorporating all ages and stages is the way forward for a better-connected body of Christ. What better way to bring the kingdom of God here on earth than together?