Baking Communion bread: a discipline of preparation and prayer

October 13th, 2021

Church communities develop varying traditions concerning the bread used for Holy Communion.  Some leaders purchase round loaves that are a bit sweet and do not crumble.  “Kings Hawaiian” is a favorite at my home church.  Some use unleavened bread – matzo crackers – and others purchase round unleavened thin wafers that are stamped.  During the challenging days of the COVID pandemic, prepackaged communion cups became necessary, even at first when in-person worship resumed. The juice on the bottom cup is topped with a thin wafer to peel off.  

Even if your worship community has a “staple” to use for communion bread, you may want to broaden your perspective or challenge the way you generally assemble the communion elements by offering the opportunity for members of your congregation to prepare bread for the altar.  

As you plan for worship you might introduce or recover this tradition for  World Communion Sunday (first week in October), or on a Sunday near Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Holy Thursday.  Preparing Communion bread can be a spiritual exercise.  The hands-on preparation of mixing and kneading, combined with the meditative nature of waiting on bread to rise, offers an opportunity for active contemplation.  When reaching out for volunteers to begin this Communion ministry, a pastor or worship leader typically knows who is a gifted baker, so start with the obvious choices to develop or add to the worship team.  When you have your volunteer, encourage them to mix, knead and bake prayerfully, using the following guide.

Baking Communion bread as active contemplation

Step 1:  Choose a recipe.

 “Isn’t the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn’t the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16; all scripture quotations are CEB)

If your community doesn’t have a traditional recipe for Communion bread, choose a recipe appropriate for your community.  The recipe selected should consider (1) whether leavened or unleavened bread is preferred, and (2) whether the pastor traditionally breaks the bread upon blessing it or blesses the bread and serves it as individual portions.  You should also consider the method in which the bread will be served, whether by intinction or if the bread is taken separately in the hand.  Confirm these practices with your worship leader, which will determine what to bake.  With intinction, for example, your recipe shouldn’t produce a great many crumbs when broken.  While you need to know the approximate number of persons who will be served, the attendance estimate is most important if you are preparing individual pieces.  

Step 2:  Prepare through meditation.

The bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

 They said, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”

 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 3:33-35)

God took something essential for sustaining life, a universal staple for survival, and transformed it into an everlasting means of experiencing divine grace, for remembering God’s faithful love accessible by ALL of us.

Read the scripture from John 3 at least three times.

Meditate on the words given to us by Christ.

Close your eyes and envision a perfect morsal of bread.

Now, receive God’s call to bake for your community this everlasting, transforming bread.

Step 3:  Gather the ingredients.

Jesus sent Peter and John with this task: “Go and prepare for us to eat the Passover meal.” (Luke 22:8)

Check your pantry prior to the day you will bake, so you will be prepared with necessary ingredients. If you need to purchase ingredients, do your errand joyfully, knowing that you are in service for Christ and your community.

Take advantage of, and enjoy, the “check -out” line at the grocery.  If it is long, pray for those in your community who are suffering.  If it is short, greet and show kindness to the store personnel, who may not receive kindness from the next customer.

When you purchase the ingredients, you are representing Christ; receive the blessing of God’s presence with you.

Step 4:  Lay out the ingredients.

 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. (Luke 10:38)

Welcome Christ into your home by laying out the ingredients for your bread.

When you arise on the day for baking, take time early in the day to lay out the things you need.  This step serves important purposes. 

First, you will be assured that you have what you need, and this will give adequate time to bring certain ingredients to room temperature.  

Second, this step will also remind you of the most important thing you will do on this day.  You have a special task; You have been chosen and called to prepare the sacrament.  

As you lay out the ingredients, meditate or pray, calling forth Christ to be with you in the baking of the bread.

As you know, the primary ingredients of bread are often yeast, sugar, salt, flour, water or milk, and the gluten created as the yeast ferments with the sugar or flour.

Here are scripture texts to guide meditation on these ingredients so necessary for life:


The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough. (Matthew 13:33)

For yeast to do its work, the environment must be right. The water or milk must not be too hot or cold, and sugar is needed to activate the yeast.  When yeast reacts with sugar, it ferments.  Warm liquid activates yeast, which requires moisture and warmth.  If the water or liquid is too hot, the yeast will be cooked, the enzymes destroyed, and the yeast will not expand the dough.  Dry yeast should only be stored for one year in an unopened package, at room temperature.


The Lord’s judgments are true.
    All of these are righteous! They are more desirable than gold—
        than tons of pure gold!
    They are sweeter than honey—
        even dripping off the honeycomb! (
Psalm 19:9)

Too much sugar will slow the expansion of yeast, which is why sweet breads are usually denser than loaf breads.  White sugar, brown sugar, honey, and molasses may all be interchanged.  Artificial sweeteners may not be appropriate substitutes when interacting with yeast, as the proteins can’t be fermented.  


You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13)

Without salt, the yeast acts very rapidly and doesn’t activate, but too much salt will stunt yeast.  Follow the recipe.  Salt adds flavor and strengthens the dough structure.


God… rained manna on them so they could eat.
        He gave them the very grain of heaven (Psalm 78:24)

Dough structure is formed from the protein in wheat flour.  Other grains can be ground into flour, but wheat contains enough of the type of protein that forms gluten.  When the flour is mixed with other ingredients, the protein encounters the liquids and becomes gluten.


This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that whoever eats from it will never die. (John 6:50)

Kneading the dough develops an interlocking network of elastic gluten strands that hold the dough together.  As the yeast ferments the sugar and/or starches, gases form and stretch the strands, giving rise to the dough.


God opened the rock and out gushed water—
    flowing like a river through the desert! (Psalm 105:40)

Liquid ingredients rehydrate and dissolve the yeast granules, blending and binding the ingredients together, allowing the gluten to develop so that the dough becomes elastic.

Liquids include milk, buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, cottage cheese, fruit juices, and fruit or vegetable purees.  

Step 5a:  Bake the bread

Pray like this:

Our (Father, Mother, Creator) who is in heaven,
uphold the holiness of your name.

 Bring in your kingdom
   so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.

Give us the bread we need for today.

Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,
just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.

And don’t lead us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13)

The Lord’s Prayer it is a potent prayer for baking.  Since we already know it, we can say it several times.  Or try memorizing it in a different translation, with fresh nuance.  This prayer allows us to meditate on the bread that we need as we mix, flatten, knead, shape, and bake.  

Begin by saying the prayer.

As you work, pray for those in your family and your community, for those to whom you have wronged, and those whom you need to forgive, those who are sick, and those who are well.  Reflect on the bounty or scarcity of bread in your own life, and remember those struggling for bread, whether their struggle is physical or spiritual. 

After you have prayed the conscious prayers, allow yourself to focus only on the task at hand…baking the bread.  

It is easy to get distracted when considering the body of Christ.  Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.  (Luke 10:40)

You might on impulse start making phone calls or managing other tasks in the kitchen, but draw yourself as best you can back to these special moments.  If your recipe calls for bread to rise, you will have a few minutes to pause and reflect.  And, you will have that time also after the bread is in the oven.  During these more passive times in the baking, take deep breaths, close your eyes, listen to your breaths, and visualize the communion ritual.  You may also want to read some scriptures, poems, or a devotional during this time.

Step 5b:  Remove the bread from the oven.

Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad!  Philippians 4:4

Time to see what happened!  
Rejoice in your beautiful bread.  
Be thankful that you carved out the time and energy to bake bread.

Or….. take the opportunity to rejoice in all things… and embrace an opportunity to try again.  

Step 6:  Present the bread.

A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?” (John 6:9)

With your bread baked and wrapped and ready to go, remember to arrive on time at your place of worship to present your gift. The worship leaders have many tasks. large and small, and they are thankful for you and your offering, even if they don’t have time to express their gratitude while preparing for worship. 

Assist as you are needed, and then pray for the service, that all will be blessed — and receive Christ in the breaking of the Bread.

Step 7: Holy Communion

After he took his seat at the table with them, 
he took the bread, blessed and broke it, 
and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30)

When you receive the sacrament of communion during the worship service, do the things that you did to prepare and bake and present the bread.

Choose to worship Christ.

Meditate on this bread of Life.

Gather yourself as you did your ingredients.

Lay yourself before Christ as you laid out your ingredients.

Allow Christ to measure and mix and knead and bake.

Present yourself to Christ.

Receive Christ in the breaking of the bread.

Permission is granted to share this guide for baking Communion bread within any congregation. Permission is required to quote, alter, publish, or use this guide in any publication for sale or on any website selling advertising. For permission, contact

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