Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: yeast

Activating the gospel leaven

[I am posting this again for the benefit of the email subscribers who received only half of the original post because  I accidentally hit a button before I was finished.]

Matthew 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

In this parable the woman is the symbol of the divine agency, the meal is the humabread-417801_1280n heart, the leaven is the Gospel. As leaven diffuses itself through the meal until the whole lump is leavened, so the grace of God and the power of the Gospel are a diffusive power, which impregnates the whole heart and transforms its character. As the parable of the mustard tree describes the external, so this parable describes the internal prevalence of the Gospel power. It describes the internal influence not upon the individual alone, but upon the masses of humanity. (Daniel Whedon, Whedon’s Commentary)

loaf-of-bread-529237_1280When my mother baked bread, she kneaded the dough three times: first when she mixed it; then after it rose the first time she would punch it down and knead it again; after the second rise she would punch it down and knead it again, then form it into loaves and allow them to rise once more before baking. The purpose of all that kneading was to distribute the yeast evenly through the whole lump. The result was a light loaf, with no big holes in the middle.

Leaven, or yeast, is a living thing and needs warmth to grow. So does the gospel. It is obvious to believers and unbelievers alike that the cold, hard confrontationalism of the Westboro Baptist Church does not make the gospel grow and spread.

But how are the rest of us doing? Are we expending too much of our time and resources worrying about conditions in the world over which we have no control? And not enough spreading the warmth of Christian love in situations near at hand where it might make a little difference?

God’s hatred of sin is real. But the good news of the gospel is that God loves sinners and wants to rescue them from the bondage and consequences of their sin. We can become so wrapped up in a constant striving to be good, that we hardly have time to do good to those who are hurting. Where then is the warmth of the gospel?

Can people feel the warmth of genuine Christian love when they meet us, visit in our homes, visit our churches? If they can, then surely the leaven of the gospel will grow and spread.

The education of a pioneer bride

The first settlers on the Saskatchewan plains were faced with a quandary – there were no large trees that could be cut to build log houses, and lumber yards were usually far away. So they set to work to build their first homes out of the material under their feet – the sod.

This was actually quite a practical choice. This was native grass prairie that had never been cultivated. The dense root structure made sturdy building materials. The sod was cut into strips two feet wide, about six feet long and two to three inches thick and they were laid much as one lays bricks, with alternating joints to tie the structure together. The sod was removed from around the growing house, providing a fire guard to protect against prairie fires.

Poplar poles were cut from nearby ponds or streams and lashed together to make a framework for the roof, which was then covered with sod strips. There was usually one door and two windows cut into the walls and a stovepipe stuck out the roof. The inside walls were often covered with a material like canvas. The result was a cozy home that was well insulated from the winter cold and the summer heat. Sometimes the roof would get saturated from a heavy rainfall and it would be necessary to move the bed and table away from the leaks.

Many a bride spent her first few years in a home such as this until her husband could accumulate enough money to buy lumber to build a wood frame home. No doubt the promise of that soon to be built two-storey home with a proper roof made life in the sod home easier to bear, but those early prairie brides had an amazing ability to adapt to conditions as they were.

Nevertheless, sod homes did present some unexpected challenges. Early one fine summer day a new bride set to work to bake some bread before her husband came home for dinner.  She measured the flour and other ingredients, soaked the yeast in water, then mixed it all together and set it aside to rise. But it didn’t rise. She checked it anxiously as the morning hours went by. There was never any change, it sat there in exactly the same shape as when she had first mixed it.

She set about making dinner, without the hoped for bread. She checked it one last time, then, not wanting her husband to know of her failure, she took the bowl outside and with a large spoon dropped a portion of the dough into the gopher holes around the yard. She felt a little solace in knowing that at least she had hidden the evidence.

When her husband came in for dinner, his first words were: “I just saw the most amazing thing. There are big white mushrooms growing out of all the gopher holes in the yard.”

I think it was the sudden flush of red in her cheeks that gave her away. Together they realized that she had done nothing wrong, but it was just too cool in the sod house to activate the yeast. The ground outside had been warmed by the sun and the hidden dough just couldn’t stay hidden.

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