The moment I stepped out of my car, I recognised the smell that greeted my nose. Indeed, nothing beats the sweet fragrance of freshly baked bread!
It jolted a childhood memory of how my parents would stop by a traditional bread shop each week to pick up a loaf of bread. This was not done early in the morning, mind you, but late at night, on our way home. Sometimes, I would already be asleep in the back seat. But when the car pulled up and the door opened, I was promptly awakened by the smell of fresh bread. Sadly, many of these traditional bakeries have closed, replaced by industrialised versions of bread. How refreshing it was when I stumbled upon this little bread shop that day!
This episode got me thinking. As a preacher and teacher of the Word, am I serving fresh bread? As an itinerant minister, it is not uncommon that I may preach the same message more than a few times across different congregations. Am I serving recycled or fresh bread? Having been a preacher in a local church, where I address the same congregation on a regular basis, have I been guilty of peddling the same phrase or idea over and over again?
Today, the internet is like a supermarket, hypermart more accurately, for Christians. Just google and there are thousands of messages to pick from. You don’t just get bread, but bread of all kinds of shapes, colour and variety! With added multi-vitamins and supplements no less; not to mention loads of artificial colouring and preservatives that prolong shelf life. For sure, there is choice – and consumers love choice – but is this really the same as the good ol’ fresh bread that is fast vanishing from our community?
I can’t speak for others. All I know is that I have an awesome responsibility when I take to the pulpit to deliver the Word of God. Firstly, my relationship with Jesus must always be alive and fresh. After all, He is the Bread of Heaven and of Life. When I proclaim the Word, it is Jesus that I proclaim! Secondly, my intake and revelation of the Word must also be current and fresh. It’s one thing to share a recipe for bread; and yet totally another to serve fresh bread straight out from the oven. Yes, the truth of God when allowed to bake in the furnace of life’s experiences takes on a different dimension. Thirdly, I have to be conscious of certain pet topics and passages that are obviously my favourite. The Word of God is more than that! How convenient it is to camp on these than to engage in expository preaching where every issue must be approached, examined and presented afresh! Fourthly, when I state certain truths or convictions more than once for effect, I must learn to present these in fresh ways and not simply draw upon a ready menu. Otherwise, what may have been fresh before would quickly become recycled and stale. And that is definitely not how I would like Jesus and His Word to be perceived and received!
This is my desire: that when the Word of God is preached, it will be as the serving of fresh bread, where the aroma of Christ the living Word will awaken every saint who may be fast asleep in the back seat! And so, to all who have the opportunity and privilege to proclaim the Word of God: “Fresh bread please!”