By Rev. Rose M. Blank St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
I really enjoy baking bread. I like the process of kneading the ingredients together. As the bread bakes, it fills the house with its fragrant aroma. I took a class several years ago to learn how to make whole grain sourdough bread and I still have the starter in my refrigerator after all these years. I bake a loaf of bread, refresh the starter and it’s good to go the next time I need it for the next loaf of bread. There are not many things that beat the taste or the smell of fresh, warm homemade bread.
Bread is an important element in the biblical story. The unleavened bread of the Passover, the loaves that Jesus multiplied to feed the hungry crowds on a Galilean hillside, the bread he blessed, broke and gave to his disciples to remind them of how his own life was blessed, broken and given on our behalf. Jesus reminds us in a parable from the gospel of Matthew, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” (13:33 NRSV)
God’s kingdom is like a woman baking bread – using simple ingredients to make something that sustains. As followers of Christ, we are those kingdom people who see the simple things around us and know that we are sustained by them. We use the gifts that God gives us to make a difference in the world around us – be they large or small. We become leaven, working to use the love of God made known in our own lives to impact the lives of others so they too come to know and experience it.
In her book, Seasons of Your Heart, Macrina Wiederkehr says, “It is becoming clear to me that Christians are meant to be a leaven for our society. We are called to rise in all directions with the healing presence of our lives.” She says part of our task is to help people see the hints of eternity that flow through each of us, which in turn nurtures hope. “Hope is contagious. Hope is like yeast and baking powder. It has an energy that makes things rise. If you want to know if you are good for others, ask yourself how much hope you have given them. It is there you will find your answer.” (pp. 56-57)
That’s a powerful question – how much hope do we give to others? How much like yeast are we? Are we working for good in the world for the sake of God’s kingdom? In the remaining days of this Epiphany season, we are invited to look around to see the ways in which Christ is revealed, to watch for ways in which we see him at work in our lives and the lives of others. The hope we share, is but one way we might see his wonder made known.