“Jesus broke bread and blessed it and gave it to them…”
It was too early for dinner, but late for lunch and I was hungry. As it turned out, the only restaurant in the area was Cracker Barrel so I went there. The familiar rustic building with its rocking chair charm and comfort food drew up fond memories of childhood.
We mostly ate ham sandwiches on white bread on family road trips, stopping at public parks in small towns along Route 66. Yet once in a while, when it was too hot for a picnic, we ate at a real restaurant. Dad would never let us order fried chicken, as he said it would take too long to make. He always seemed eager to get on down the road.
The same oil lamp graced my lunch table, alongside the same wooden peg board game, handmade with golf tees just like those I played with my uncle long ago. So much seemed familiar, the chicken pot pie and pot roast. But one thing clearly changed. The menu informed me that every familiar comfort food had enough calories for the entire day, not counting the biscuit.
I ordered the vegetable soup, and to my surprise, it tasted just like the soup my mother made in the pressure cooker when I was a child. A family favorite, it was the only way mom could get my brother to eat anything from the garden. In fact, when I asked the waitress if the soup was good, she said, “People love it, but I don’t eat vegetables.” There you go.
Leaving the place seemed tougher than arriving. In my haste to provision up, I whizzed by the candies that once graced my grandmother’s table, and the funny cards that cracked up my brother, who always had a better sense of humor than me. I’d like to say I made it out without buying a pound of sugar, but the cashier was having a contest, and I went home with chocolate covered orange jellies despite my good intentions.
The Cracker Barrel stays pretty busy these days, filled with local families, fifteen adults and kids gathered for weekly conversation, and roadside travelers like my family so long ago, on our way to somewhere else. The whole experience felt so satisfying that I half expected to see Jesus on the porch, laughing hard at some fish story, greeting the worn and weary who dropped into one of the rockers to rest. As it turns out, Jesus was exactly where I thought he’d be. Walking out into the sunshine, I glanced aside looking for him, and there he stood in an extended family circle, holding hands, heads bowed in prayer. Right there in front of God and everybody, he blessed the bread and cup and fed everybody the feast of life until they were satisfied.
This Sunday at our Community Church, like so many others around the country, we’ll share prayers and offer the bread of life at communion to all who hunger. We too will leave satisfied and grateful. In case you get hungry for a little Jesus between Sabbaths, you may want to stop by the Cracker Barrel and break bread in his name. Let all who hunger eat, let all who thirst, come, for all things are ready.
Prayer: Thank you God for satisfying my deepest hunger. Remind me today that wherever two or more are gathered, you are in our midst. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Senior Minister, Community Church of Vero Beach