The readings for Sunday are available here.
Rediscovering the art of baking bread has become something of a hallmark of the pandemic. Perhaps in want of a distraction, perhaps out of a desire to return to something simple and wholesome in challenging times, perhaps out of a sense of aimlessness, the patient work of baking bread has experienced a resurgence.
Personally, I haven’t made the attempt recently. Our household already has a three-year old, a one-year old, and two full-time jobs with a staggering lack of childcare, so there hasn’t been much room for bread baking. But, I’ll admit to ordering some flour and yeast and aspiring to find the time. Because it sure is a wonderful thing to do.
The whole thing depends to a remarkable degree on leaven. You can source all kinds of different, exclusive, yeasts. Sourdough recipes, passed down through generations. But no matter what kind of leaven is chosen, patience is required. You can’t just toss it into the mixture and pop the loaf into the oven.
Baking bread teaches us something about patience. About simplicity. About mystery.
Just as a little bit of yeast works its way through an entire batch, leavening the whole thing, so too does the wonderful aroma of baking bread spread through a house, lifting spirits. My grandfather used to make legendary dinner rolls, and you could bet you’d find a lineup of hungry dinner guests waiting in the kitchen when the smell made its way through their house. Even after too many years to count, I can still remember that smell. It smelled like family. Like care and hospitality and goodness.
‘To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?,’ Jesus muses.
We might imagine all kinds of glorious things. But Jesus settles on something simple, familiar, and domestic.
A woman baking, he says. It’s like when a woman takes a tiny bit of yeast, and it leavens three whole measures of flour.
Jesus invites us to imagine God as a woman (Jesus – who elsewhere refers to himself as a mother hen – doesn’t seem to think it’s a stretch, so maybe we shouldn’t either), carefully kneading these nearly invisible bits of yeasty goodness into the very bread of life.
He invites us to be patient.
And to trust that even when we can’t see it, it’s at work animating everything.
Yeast, animating the kind of home-made bread that animates family meals and smells like family and care and hospitality and goodness.
That’s what the Kingdom is like.