Over the past year or so, I have found myself baking more. While it used to be whatever was easiest out of the box, I now like the truly homemade. There is something about putting all those ingredients together and having something so very yummy produced out of the oven. While my chocoholic self loves the brownies and chocolate chip cookies and my hubby has an affinity for a vegan banana bread recipe I discovered (and yes, honey, I will make some later), what I really enjoy making is our family recipe for Swedish molasses bread.
First of all, there is nothing better than the warm aroma and melt in your mouth goodness of bread right out of the oven. Even more than that, it is a family recipe that my great, great grandmother, Amanda Peterson Almquist brought with her when she emigrated from Sweden, ultimately settling in Hutto, Texas. This delicious bread is a part of my heritage and I feel connected to my family as I mix all those ingredients together.
As I gather the flour (white and rye), molasses, and the like, it is as if I am bringing together parts of my family, past and present. As the dough begins to form, I reflect on the ways in which my own life was formed by each of them, directly and indirectly. Without one of those ingredients, the bread wouldn't be good.
The most important and significant part of bread making is the yeast, of course. While, we can make breads without yeast (such as the forementioned banana bread), the yeast gives all the other ingredients a way to live into the fullness of their textures and tastes, bringing them altogether to do that which that were gathered to do.
I suspect, you may already see where I'm going with this. In many ways, the yeast that gets placed into the bread dough can be compared to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings life and purpose. The Spirit brings out the fullness of life that God intends for us, helping us to live into that fullness. The Psalmist wrote "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8) and Jesus said, "I am the Bread of life" (John 6:35). The loving presence of God is what nourishes and sustains us, that brings us true life.
In the devotional book by Macrina Weidetkehr (mentioned in earlier blogs), wrote this: "It is becoming clear to me that Christians are meant to be leaven for our society...Hope is like yeast and baking powder. It has an energy that makes things rise."
We are given the hope of the Holy Spirit to help raise up the world, to bring nourishment to a world that is hungry for something more. We are called to let the yeast of God rise within us that we may feed the world with God's love and grace.
So whether you are making your own bread or taking a slice out of a package, think of the ways in which God's Spirit is rising within you.