Have you ever smelled fresh bread baking? For people of our place and time, that aroma is a lush sensual treat, but for most of human history it was just part of the daily routine. In biblical times, villages had communal bread-ovens, located outside the houses for reasons of fire safety. The line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” was enacted daily by women of the village, baking loaves for their families in these mud-brick ovens.
Except for the Passover celebration – for which unleavened matzoh was the rule – yeast was an essential ingredient. Each loaf needed a little leaven, or yeast, in order to rise. This was supplied by a lump of dough, set aside from the previous day’s baking and kneaded into the new mixture. Cooks do much the same today, as they use sourdough starter.
The Parable of the Leaven is one of Jesus’ shortest. It’s a simple, homey image that communicates powerful truths about the new reality the Bible calls the Kingdom of God. The reign of God is both now and not-yet. With the eye of spiritual discernment, we can glimpse something of God’s new reality in the world around us, even as we know the full extent of our Creator’s love is yet to be revealed.
It may be a short parable, but – like a loaf of delicious, fresh-baked bread – it’s loaded with good things. On this Communion Sunday – as we break bread ourselves – come along and explore what it means to be a yeasty Christian in a God-blessed world!