What is this bread?

On Twitter the other day, Aaron commented that “talk about ‘Real Presence’ in communion is maddening to me … Especially when I’m thinking about it at five thirty in the AM”. In reply, I said “Stop thinking about abstractions like ‘real presence’, and ask instead (as the hymn says), ‘What is this bread?'”

What I had in mind was the following hymn by Frederick Baue (hymn 629 in the Lutheran Service Book), which cuts through all the arguments and hair-splitting about what the term “real presence” means (leading to complaints along the lines of “how dare you say Jesus isn’t really present at our Supper!”), and focuses instead on the promises Jesus makes about the bread and wine in the Supper, that they are truly his body and his blood, given for us to eat and drink:

What is this bread?
Christ’s body risen from the dead:
This bread we break,
This life we take,
Was crushed to pay for our release.
Oh, taste and see – the Lord is peace.

What is this wine?
The blood of Jesus shed for mine;
The cup of grace
brings His embrace
of life and love until I sing!
Oh taste and see – the Lord is King.

So who am I,
that I should live and He should die
under the rod?
My God, my God,
Why have you not forsaken me?
Oh, taste and see – the Lord is free.

Yet is God here?
Oh, yes! By Word and promise clear.
In mouth and soul
He makes us whole –
Christ, truly present in this meal.
Oh, taste and see – the Lord is free.

Is this for me?
I am forgiven and set free!
I do believe
that I receive
His very body and His blood.
Oh taste and see – the Lord is good.

Lovely tune, too: check it out if you have access to a copy of the LSB.

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One Response to What is this bread?

  1. steve martin says:

    If He says, “this is my body…this is my blood…take and eat…”, I guess He means it.

    It sounds like a promise to me. If He makes a promise, He is in it.

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