Apricot bread and gathered worship

Remembering the taste of home

by Ken Rummer for Presbyterians Today | Special to Presbyterian News Service

“Sharing a Taste of Home” (Photo by Ken Rummer)

When people ask about a food that makes the holiday official in my family, the answer I give is apricot bread.

I remember one grandmother for her orange bread, and the other grandmother for her yeast rolls, but my mother’s baking specialty for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve was apricot bread.

As a young child, I was appointed Greaser of the Pans. Later, I was promoted to Sifter of the Flour. My favorite role was Taster of the Apricots, but it came with a warning: too many apricots can give you a tummy ache, and besides, we need to leave some for the bread.

Apricot bread is a quick bread like banana bread, but the chewy tang of the dried apricots, the sweetness of the sugar, and the exotic notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves give it a flavor all its own.

At some point — it might have been around the time I married —my mother wrote out her recipe for apricot bread on a three-by- five card. I have it in front of me now. It’s a little worse for wear, creased and stained from regular use, and turning brown from almost half a century of baking sessions. But I can still read the faded directions in my mother’s cursive hand. 

And when I make apricot bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, the flavor transports me to family gatherings past and present and to my place at those tables. Apricot bread, for me, tastes like home.

I’ve noticed that gatherings for worship can do that, too. Whether I’m online or in person, the old family recipe of song and prayer and Scripture and sermon and sacrament transports me. 

Suddenly, I’m a baby being carried forward for baptism. I’m a teen singing hymns to a jazz beat. I’m a nervous newbie preacher on the first Sunday in a new call. I’m a retired pastor no longer standing up front.

The dead appear. My parents are sitting in their usual pew, my grandparents are dressed in their Sunday clothes, and even the great-grandparents, dim in my memory, are part of the gathering.

Somehow I’m connected to Christians meeting in catacombs and cathedrals, as well as to Christians yet to be born. 

I hear the voices of the gathered family of faith from the chair beside me and from the online screen, and I sense a deeper presence, like a whiff of perfume, like the hum of a dynamo — God, as a person you’ve always known but long to meet.

The Rev. Ken Rummer blogs periodically for Presbyterians Today.

Gathered worship can do that. Its flavors offer transport. It takes me home. Green-pastures-and-still-waters home. Holy-holy-before-the-throne-of-God home. I-will-be-your-God-and-you-will-be-my-people home. Wipe-every-tear-from-their-eyes home. In-Christ-a-new-creation home.

And what does home taste like? 

Like semi-sweet grape juice from a small cup.

Like tangy bread from an old family recipe.

The Rev. Ken Rummer writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. Previous posts are available here.

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