“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.”
Matthew 13: 33 (NRSV)
Last week I baked bread from scratch. Watching the dough double in size before kneading and shaping the loaf, I felt a kinship with the women who heard Jesus speak. I began to consider what yeast does and its role in the kingdom of heaven.
Yeast was known 2000 years before Jesus told his parable. The Egyptians discovered its transforming effect on dough that had been left uncovered before baking. They marveled at the lightness of the bread and the changed flavor of the loaf.
Early bakers didn’t know yeast consists of microscopic, one-celled living plants that when airborne, settled on the waiting dough and went to work. They did know it was a slow in getting started.
Eventually women learned they could save a piece of unbaked dough to start the next batch. Many a pioneer bride set up housekeeping with a container of starter from her mother’s kitchen. She had to bake often to keep the yeast alive.
Today I buy yeast in granular form at the supermarket. The yeast is inactive until I add warm milk or water to my three measures of flour.
I notice that Jesus didn’t just speak about yeast in a loaf of bread. He included the action of a person. This tells me that the yeast is the power of God’s love and I am expected to keep it alive to lighten and change the flavor of the loaf of life at hand.
Life-giving Lord, keep us mindful that we are starters and agents of leavening for your kingdom.
What loaf do you want me to lighten or change this week?
Written by Nancy Alice Morton