Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bread and Flowers

This morning I joined a team of bakers in the church kitchen to make communion bread, called Prosphora in the Orthodox Church. Prosphora is Greek for "that which is offered." We were making three sizes of bread loaves today. All the many services around Pascha mean that we need to have a good supply ready in the freezer.

Each loaf, large or small, is made in two parts, which are joined top to bottom and baked together to show the unity of the human and divine natures of Christ.

Here they are rising under towels, with icons of famous monastic Prosphora bakers in the background.

We don't make much use of knives in our baking, but I always like to look at this interesting collection.

Going into the oven...

...and a spread of little baked loaves.

Today it was my job to make some larger loaves, called "lambs." While they were cooling, I went out into the garden and sat on a bench to eat my lunch. 

   With all the rain and our sicknesses and remodeling, I have begun to miss my gardens. At church, I worried that if I ever did get back to tending the plants, the rosebushes and lilies might cry out, "Who is this stranger?"
  That didn't happen. Before putting away the bread I pulled weeds for an hour, and everyone seemed to like the TLC. This succulent even showed me its darling blossoms.


elizabeth said...

how very special; to bake these loaves...


the flowers are also beautiful.

mhmreed said...

Hmm I can almost smell them from here. Gretchen, I have never heard about communion bread that are made in two parts and joined. What a wonderful nurturing example and word picture they are of the natures of Christ! (Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!) What does the inscription mean?
Why do they call the larger breads

Gumbo Lily said...

What beautiful little loaves of communion bread. How many servings will each loaf provide?


GretchenJoanna said...

The inscription means "Jesus Christ Conquers /The Victor."

The large loaf is called a lamb because it is the main loaf used in the altar, representing the body of Christ, The Lamb of God. This article on the site I linked to above http://www.theologic.com/oflweb/inchurch/prosphor.htm explains the history of communion bread and how the Greeks and the Slavic traditions differ. It tells how the Lamb is cut and arranged with prayer in preparation for the actual serving of Holy Communion.

The small loaves, in our parish, are mostly for one person to buy and offer, sending it into the altar with a list of names of those for whom he is praying. A little piece of that bread is added to all the others from the Lamb as the people listed are prayed for. The remaining little prosphora is given back to the parishioner.

Pom Pom said...

So interesting. Your garden at church will thrive. It's off to such a good start.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I love so much how these loaves look. How wonderful, too, that you all make the communion bread for your services. I would love to do that!

I hope you find more time for your gardens soon!


DebD said...

sickness and rain - we've had a lot of that here too. You've reminded me that I told them I'd make prosphora this week (actually, I told them I'd do it last week but I was sick). I love making prosphora as a group, though.

The dB family said...

What a wonderful day! The making of the loaves would be very soothing as would be spending some time in the garden. Thank you for sharing your day with us!


margaret said...

What is that lovely plant?

GretchenJoanna said...

I will have to ask the Master Gardener at church if he remembers what that plant is. I have started wondering also if it really is a succulent; I wrote that automatically because it is in the succulent bed.

Marfa said...

Beautiful! My mom has been the main prosphora baker for my whole life...and is still doing it...there are 2 other women that help out at our church. I love them. So do all the kids!

GretchenJoanna said...

We think it is "The genus Helichrysum...consists of an estimated 600 species, in the sunflower family (Asteraceae)." (from Wikipedia)So, not a succulent at all. I found a picture elsewhere on the Web that looked like it, that was called "Helichrysum nummularium 'Pink Sapphire’"

Thanks for asking!