Is it just me, or does your mind also make interesting associations, and often in a split second?
Whenever I can smell the smell of licoriche in a candy store or a quickie mart, my mind immediately takes flight from the Miami airport, across the blue Carribean waters, to the northern coast of the Domincian Republc. A nanosecond later, I am no longer in a checkout line paying for gas but am in a block-stacked sanctuary belonging to the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana. A smiling friend is handing me bread; in Spanish she says aloud what I can safely assume is something like, "The body of Jesus, broken for you." And as a hunk of that torn bread nears my mouth, my nose is filled with the potent aroma of Anise -- a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. The Dominicans always serve anise bread at communion, one of a hundred little traditions of worship that localize the good news for their little corner of the world's increible neighborhood.
So in my mind, at least, the smell of licoriche (so similar to anise) is forever welded to the sacrament of communion, to the taste of a Caribbean Jesus in my mouth.
World Communion Sunday, which we celebrate this week, is for us an annual joyful reminder that the living body of Jesus is infinitely larger than our own ecclesiastical square footage tucked in along Wimbish Road. Of course we know this in our minds; a drive up and down said Wimbish makes it clear that Jesus' people, although one, gather in many different tribes. We are not World Changers; World Changers are not we; thank the heavens Jesus loves us all.
But the communion meal affords us the blessing of remembering his Oneness in other ways: touch, smell ... taste. We see, touch, taste the various breads ... and we are struck again by the beauty of the good news: it is singular in its oneness -- Jesus is alive! -- yet is is pluriform in its practice, worked out uniquely and locally in every zip code around this great green planet. In Sabaneta de Yasica they bake in the anise seed so that the bread wakes up your senses. In New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, they serve up the sugar-sweet shortbread. In a homless shelter in downtown Pittsburgh, the break whatever bread was donated in excess the day before. In Forsyth, Georgia, every week, another sourdough loaf appears from a bread maker just in time for eucharist. One body ... many loaves. One gospel ... many places.
World Communion Sunday. God is licoriche and love. Come hungry.