By Rev Ruth Frampton
From the Word of Life sprang all creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was at the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people”(Jn 1:1-5).
The Word of God is both sower and seed: “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14), but “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).
The Word of God is like a grain of wheat. When sown into good soil it bears much fruit: “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit”(Mt 13:23).
To flourish, each individual grain must be plucked and harvested, beaten and, in common with others, ground into flour. Just as the Word of God was beaten and killed, hidden in the tomb and tested in the refiner’s fire, so each grain is pounded and kneaded, thrust into the darkness of the oven to be transformed into the Bread of Life.
In the Eucharist, we break this bread again to share life among many, just as Jesus taught us to do when he gave himself out of love to feed his creation. “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body’” (Mt 26:26).
This cycle of life through death to life again, which flows from the dance of love that is the Trinity, is a cycle of loving service and self-giving. Self-giving love challenges us on many levels: we may resent the feeling of obligation it engenders; we may feel unworthy to receive it; we may refuse love’s demand to be returned. We may just fear a love we cannot recognize because we do not know it in our lives and, in our fear, we lash out: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
And so the Bread of Life is broken on the cross of humanity’s fear. The Christ, through whom all things came into being, was subjected to humiliation and death. But death can have no dominion over the Lord of Life and Love, the seed of creation. Death itself is transformed into a gateway to eternal life.
Our lives repeat a similar cycle: a seed is sown and we become flesh. We try, however inadequately, to give ourselves in love only to suffer rejection, pain, and grief.
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn 15:18). But Jesus is our companion on the way and feeds us with the Bread of Life.
We continue to break the Bread that is eternally offered to us. The sacrifice of Love is remembered in every Eucharist. Love bids us welcome if we will but take and eat. “You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat: So I did sit and eat” (George Herbert).
We, unworthy, yet ever beloved, are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb, to the Resurrection Life that is the new creation: “Now the green blade rises from the buried grain…” (J. Crum).
Rev Ruth Frampton is ordained in the Church of England and serves as priest-in-charge of six rural parishes in the southwest of England. She stayed at The Lay Centre in 2014, and used her research into ecumenical community as the basis for a master’s degree in theology. She is married to Giles and they have two children and grandchildren.