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The Bread Counter

The bread of life

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to consider the values and rules that we use to underpin our daily lives.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1. Ask the students, ‘What is your favourite sandwich filling?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    You may wish to have an open discussion or take a vote to determine the students’ top three favourite fillings.

  2. Bread is a staple food in large parts of the world and is one of the oldest foods made by humans. It is made from a combination of flour and water, and many recipes include yeast to make the bread rise. Other types of bread, such as sourdough, use what is known as a starter - a fermented mixture of flour and water - to make the bread rise. There are also many varieties of flatbread, such as naan and pitta, which contain no raising agent. All of them are good for making open or filled sandwiches.

  3. So, why is bread such a popular food? One advantage is that it’s filling. Bread provides the carbohydrates that we need to burn for fuel for our bodies. 

    Second, it’s easily portable because it’s lightweight, easy to pack and we don’t need to use cutlery to eat it. It often forms the basis of meals to be eaten on foot or outdoors. 

    Finally, it’s hard to get bored of bread because there is such a variety of shapes, ingredients, textures and tastes.

Time for reflection

One of Jesus’ well-known sayings is, ‘I am the bread of life.’ (John 6.48)

Ask the students, ‘What do you think Jesus meant by this?’

Pause to allow time for thought. You may wish to open up the question for discussion.

Let’s think about this statement in the context of why bread is such a popular food, which we explored earlier.

Jesus is saying that, like carbohydrates, knowing him and understanding his teaching is something that gives us the energy to live our life day by day. Having a central belief or code helps us to tackle the situations, dilemmas and choices that we encounter. Christians believe that Jesus provides this. Many people consider that their own religious background does the same. Having such a faith or code can give a structure, a stability, a frame of reference for living our lives.

Second, Jesus is saying that belief in him is portable. We don’t need to attend church or have a priest to advise us to believe in Jesus. He is with us in whatever we’re doing, addressing the situations in which we find ourselves. Christians believe that Jesus does this through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, Jesus is saying that belief in him has room for variety. One person’s faith is very practical; another person’s may be more emotional. One person’s faith is very organized; another person’s may be far more informal. What is important is that they all have their origins in Jesus. It is often similar in other faiths and codes. There are different streams, but the same central core.

Ask the following questions.

- What sort of a day do you have set out before you?
Are you excited?
Are you worried?
Are you miserable?
Are you on top of the world?
Can a personal faith help you in these situations?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students, ‘What qualities would we need to put in a sandwich to support us through the day ahead?’

Possible ingredients could include patience, endurance, awareness, memory, tolerance, faith and personal values. (Add others as appropriate.)

Encourage the students to select three of these ingredients and focus on them during the day or week ahead.

Publication date: August 2021   (Vol.23 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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