Each month this year, I am inviting a dear friend to guest post and share their wisdom and words with you. Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my favorite writers on the internet- Ronne Rock. Below, Ronne shares how her simple tradition of Sunday night meals at CasaRock holds the love and power of Christ. Don’t miss her #kitchentherapy recipe at the very end for homemade Italian Bread- it is as delicious as it sounds!!
On Sunday nights at the home I call CasaRock, we gather, we yield, we receive at the table with good food and drink shared with precious friends. We call it family dinner, and we’ve been gathering for 12 years now. Honestly, it may look more like the first communion than anything I know.
You see, all are welcome at the table.
As a kid, the kitchen was the only truly safe place in our house. It was the place where parents didn’t argue as much, where dads didn’t store the liquor and moms didn’t cry and doors didn’t slam. It was the place where stories were told about grandmothers who could cook for a small army back in the day when families were big and took in wayfaring strangers. It was the place where folks felt welcomed and seen and heard and healed. Amazing fragrances came from the kitchen, and there was always something to sample on the stove. The breakfast nook table was the place for homework in the afternoons and deep conversations served with sweet potato fried pies late at night. The formal dining table welcomed preachers and prostitutes. All were welcome; none were excluded. There was a cup for everyone.
What I learned in the kitchen of my youth remains true today—having a safe place to gather is good for the soul. There’s comfort, there’s discovery, there’s story to be told. A loaf of bread with salt and olive oil, a chunk of cheese and a bit of fruit—that’s all that’s needed on a plate that’s offered with love. There’s a cup for everyone, and we all gather and pour.
That, friends, is Eucharist. That is communion.
Communion means “common union.” It was the communion that Jesus shared with His disciples. This first communion wasn’t wasn’t formal, and it wasn’t preceded by a sermon or followed by a hymn. The bread He used wasn’t baked for the purpose of being memorialized, and the wine they drank was wine that was going to be enjoyed that night anyway. They were celebrating Passover together with a feast that marked liberty and life. They had been through much together, strangers made God-crafted family. There’s no liturgy in their conversation. They’re simply sharing stories when Jesus picks up a piece of bread, breaks it, and says, “This is for you.” They eat the bread, each one pondering the depth of the words, “Let’s thank God the Father right now for this life and our lives together. Let’s do this to remember why we exist.”
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best. (Passover reading from Psalm 113)
The feast continues, the conversations return, sacred writings are read aloud. Liberty and life are celebrated again. When the last morsel has been eaten and the last psalm read, Jesus raises a cup. “I’d like to make a toast.” They all smile and raise their cups. Four glasses of wine during the dinner – that’s the tradition. This is the last cup. It has meaning. It represents the freedom that will come with Messiah, a promise of restoration by God Himself. They are ready to recite words, say a prayer, and toast to a future of peace. But Jesus lifts His cup and toasts to a new promise – of a life bigger than life and a Kingdom that can’t be destroyed and a peace that won’t be shattered or explained away. He says they’ll celebrate again. And He toasts to His own life, a life poured out to give life. The wine takes on new meaning. Created with promise, crushed to be given greater purpose. Quietly, they drink, every day of ministry and every word He’s spoken in the time they’ve known Him quick-stepping now through their minds. “Everything I do, you’ll do too. And more. We are in this together.”
At the table were doubters, questioners, lovers, haters. At the table were loyalists and skeptics. At the table were those who did it all right and those who did everything wrong. All were welcomed by the One who washed feet and opened blind eyes. And there, they were kept in a common place. A safe place.
Yes, friends, that is Eucharist. That is communion.
Each Sunday night, as meals are served at CasaRock, I see Jesus. I see communion. We come to the table and lay our burdens down. We come to the table wondering and wandering, and He meets us with bread and wine. He says, “Let’s remember why we are here.”
I pray that you will see your table as a place of communion—a safe place, a common place, a healing place. I pray that you will set places of honor and welcome all with a cup and a toast and a “we are in this together.” We truly are, you know.
For that is Eucharist. That is communion.
“We sometimes forget that Jesus was born in a barn, not a church, and that the God of the Incarnation is as much about kitchen tables as ecclesial altars. God is as much domestic as monastic. This is important to keep in mind as we try to understand the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the body of Christ, a continuation of the Incarnation, and, like Jesus’ birth, is meant to bring the divine into concrete, everyday life.
“Hence, among its other attributes, the Eucharist is meant simply to be a family meal, a community celebration, a place, like our kitchen tables and living rooms, where we come together to be with each other, to share ordinary life, to celebrate special events with each other, to console and cry with each other when life is full of heartaches, and to be together simply for the sake of being together.” Ronald Rolheiser
One of the things I love about family dinner at CasaRock is #kitchentherapy. It’s the beautiful ritual of preparing the meal and serving it to those who will savor both it and the time together. #kitchentherapy is honestly good for the soul, and it doesn’t need to be a complicated thing at all. Here’s a lovely Italian bread recipe that makes beautiful loaves with perfectly crisp crust. It’s perfect for communion, slathered with some butter and sprinkled with salt, or dipped in olive oil. And the best thing of all is just how easy it is to make. It’s a staple at CasaRock now.
Lovely Italian Bread (makes two loaves)
1 package active dry yeast (make sure it’s fresh and high-quality)
2 cups warm water (110 to 115), though you can actually use cool water if you have more time to proof your dough – it will make for an even more flavorful end product
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 to 5-1/2 bread flour (also known as strong flour, it provides a better texture—though you can also use all-purpose flour with success)
In a large mixing bowl, add sugar and dissolve. Then add yeast and stir until dissolved. Slowly mix in 3 cups of flour and the salt and beat on medium speed for about three minutes. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough (it will be a bit sticky – that’s OK). If you’ve got a dough hook attachment on your mixer, use it. It makes things even easier!
Turn out your dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (adding a bit more flour if necessary, to create a workable dough). This kneading process could take anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes. That’s totally OK. What you want is a dough that springs back like the Pillsbury Doughboy’s belly when you poke it. Be patient. It’s worth it.
Place that beautifully kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap that has also been lightly greased, and set the bowl in a warm, draft-free area. Let the dough rise until at least doubled in size (1 to 2 hours on average). Step away. Relax. Do other things. Take a nap.
Remove the plastic wrap, punch the dough down, and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf, set on a greased baking sheet or on a baking stone. Cover with a tea towel and let rise again – though your bread can be baked after around 30 minutes, I recommend you let it rise until those loaves have at least doubled in size (1 to 2 hours). Again, step away. Do other things. Read. Write. Dance.
Preheat oven to 400. Before baking, make slits in the top of your loaves and sprinkle with a little water. Bake until golden brown (anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes on average) and confirm that the loaves are done by tapping the bottom of each – if they sound hollow, you’re there! Savor the bread with butter or a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Eat more than you should.
Ronne finds joy in telling stories that change stories. She shares more than 30 years of insight and wisdom with emerging leaders and ministries that long to make a true impact. Ronne gathers words and images that inspire others to action with Orphan Outreach. She’s also a writer, blogger, and speaker – sharing battle-tested wisdom about leadership, advocacy marketing, and finding God in the most beautiful and painful of circumstances. You’ll find her words at RonneRock.com, and even more encouragement in her For You Love prayer journals and in Everbloom, a collection of stories from the Redbud Writers Guild. Ronne is currently writing One Woman Can Change the World, set to publish late spring 2020 (Revell).
Are you in?
Want to hear more on this powerful practice of communion and fellowship? We will be studying “Community” in just a few months, as a part of our Faithful Hearts Study. You can join in now and receive all of our studies directly in your inbox by filling out the form below. Can’t wait to see you there!