Sacred Food

May 24, 2018

by Sarah Estes, PCA Board Secretary

In the United Methodist tradition, we invite all to partake in the sacrament of communion. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or where you are on your spiritual journey, it is the table of God for the people of God.  Breaking bread with those in prison is especially moving.  This sacred practice takes on a new dimension of meaning inside the iron gates and concrete walls.

If you have ever talked with someone who has been in prison for any length of time, you understand that food in prison is sacred.  The food provided to inmates is dull and often mysterious. Inmates in some states only receive two meals on weekends, the rest of the time they have to purchase their own food from the “canteen”, a small, overpriced, under-stocked snack bar.  Of course, they can only purchase food if they have money in their prison account, which excludes many from purchasing anything.

Raman, Little Debbies and peanuts are a few staples for the inmates.  They can sometimes buy canned soups and cheap bags of candies, but the pickin’s are slim.  I am amazed by the women at our prison congregation in Ft. Pillow, Tennessee, Grace Place, who made a cookbook of creative meals the ladies can prepare in their cells, using only foods that come from the canteen.  Reading the cookbook will definitely make a person on the outside realize just how much we take food for granted. 

The PCA board members had the privilege of taking Communion with Grace Place and Prisoners of Hope in Memphis last month. I was pleasantly surprised that Pastor Diane and Pastor Bud both brought in a loaf of “King’s Hawaiian” bread to use.  What a sweet and glorious treat communion is, and made even sweeter by this delicious bread.  I thought to myself after both services, how precious this sacred bread must be for the women and men – a treat for the spirit as well as the tongue!

I realize it might be a bit sacrilegious to call the body of Christ delicious.  I digress.  It is much more than the taste; it is the idea that for a moment, while we are sharing in the body and blood of our Savior together, the men and women who spend their lives behind lock and key are free.   



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Category: relationship

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