After Dad retired in 1970 to Rogers, Arkansas, our family began attending Central United Methodist Church in Rogers after many years of being unchurched. Central was and still is an old downtown church that is now on the Historic Register. Stained glass windows surround the curved wooden pews with carved ends on a sloped floor and spill light into the still creaky balcony. Organ pipes stand stately behind the choir. The domed ceiling reflects light to every corner of the sanctuary. Many a life has been touched by God’s Spirit in that place. I was a junior in high school when we moved there and gave my life to Christ and received my call to ministry in that historic church. It would take many years for me to take up that call. Our youth group would always sit in the balcony. Rev. Bill Connell would keep a close watch on us from the stage and pulpit with good reason.
Though Rogers and northwest Arkansas is now a sprawling metropolis, in 1970 Rogers’ population was only about 5000 and Bentonville was about 2500. Sam Walton’s second store was still open in a strip shopping center on the main street in Rogers and his original store was still on the square in Bentonville.
Three or four blocks from the church Wonder Bread had a facility that produced loaves of bread. There was many a Sunday morning about half way through the 11 a.m. service, if the wind was just right, the smell of fresh baked bread would waft its way through the entire downtown and into the sanctuary. There is nothing like that smell. When we stepped out of worship on a cool fall day, the smell of fresh baking bread was an additional blessing. The old factory is gone now along with many of those landmarks that change with progress and growth. Whenever I smell fresh baked bread, I am reminded of those days and the days when my Dad made fresh bread in Sunday mornings. Oh, to be able to bask in the smell of fresh baking bread more often.
Jesus addressed this very longing when he declared to the crowd that he was the “Bread” of Life. He offered spiritual bread that would cause us to never be hungry for God again. Our quest to fill our wants and desires (which are often dictated by society, peer pressure and wanting to keep up with our neighbors) drives us to an eternal hunger and thirst for more, mostly material things. This in turn shifts our attention away from God who brought the true bread from heaven to each of us to satisfy that inner longing for a relationship with our creator. The next time you smell fresh bread baking, or remember grandma, grandpa, mom or dad making fresh bread in the kitchen, remember that Bread of Life, who is with us each and every step of our journey, no matter how pleasant or tough the journey might be. His Spirt surrounds and fills every corner of lives like the smell of fresh bread fills every corner of room, every corner of the house, and in the olds in Rogers, every corner of the church and the community. Remember the BREAD OF LIFE and be thankful.
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach