“Y” is for Yeast (March 27, 2012)

…Opening To…

There is a green hill far away, outside a city wall, where our dear Lord was crucified who died to save us all. O dearly, dearly has he loved! And we must love him too, and trust in his redeeming blood, and try his works to do. (Cecil Frances Alexander, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.” (Matthew 13:33; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “Y” is for yeast. Yes, the end of the alphabet is tough, but at least I didn’t have to resort to a gimmick like I did yesterday. While you might use the word “yeast” mostly in your baking, the word comes up a surprising number of times in the Bible.

First, yeast plays a part in the escape of the Israelites from Egypt in the book of Exodus. Or perhaps I should say, yeast is conspicuously absent from the account of the Israelites flight. To show the urgency of their departure, the writer of Exodus keys in on this small detail.  They didn’t have time to wait for the yeast to rise in their bread, so they resorted to unleavened bread for their journey. And to this day, unleavened bread is an important part of Jewish ritual.

Moving to the New Testament, Jesus speaks of yeast on at least two occasions. In possibly the greatest display of the disciples’ thickness, they don’t understand when Jesus says, “Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples don’t have any bread themselves, so they at first think that Jesus is telling them to go borrow some yeast from the Pharisees. I imagine Jesus took several calming breaths at this. “Don’t you know that I wasn’t talking about bread?” he says, no doubt exasperated. Then they realize he is using “yeast” to mean teaching – as in, something that helps you grow.

Finally, Jesus uses yeast in one of his parables about the kingdom of heaven, which you can read above. Here Jesus emphasizes the hidden aspect of the kingdom. It is there, inside each of us, working, reacting with the spiritual chemicals within us to turn us into agents of the kingdom. In the Bible, yeast is slow, it works in secret, but its affects are visible, and it helps us rise.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you help me rise by infusing my life with the leaven of your grace. Make me more and more aware of your kingdom growing within me so that I can be an agent of your reign in this world. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, continuing my walk with you along this path through Lent and almost come to Jerusalem where I will wait and watch with the Lord.

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