Monday, October 27, 2014

Flour. Yeast. Salt. Water.

MATTHEW 22:34-46
34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “&squo;You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39and a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 
44  ‘The Lord said to my Lord, 
     “Sit at my right hand, 
          until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 
45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

So this week, I’ve apparently let my kid use the wrong kind of hand soap, I’ve been duped by and let the homeless walk all over me, and I’ve let my youngest do irreparable damage to his cerebral cortex by letting him “cry it out.” I shopped at the cheap chain grocery store instead of the local organic co-op, and I forgot the reusable grocery bags. And I’ve turned the heat on in the house and forgotten to close the bathroom window, and when we ran out of whole milk, I fed my kid heavy whipping cream. This week I was so tired and overwhelmed by that horrible “witching” hour between 4-6 pm, that hour when your kids are tired and hungry and freaking out and you are tired and hungry and freaking out, that I put my baby in the bathtub and forgot to take off his socks. 

It was one of those weeks when those inner voices are incredibly loud. Like the bass-thudding-in-the-giant-SUV-next-to-you-at-the-stoplight loud. You aren’t good enough. And it’s pledge week on public radio, so you ignore the news, and the pleas for donations and listen instead to the Jimmy Buffet cd you found under your driver’s seat with the coffee cups and the stale Cheerios. Your five year old doesn’t know about the function of the silent e and can’t do basic algebra problems. He insisted on wearing sandals on a forty degree morning and you didn’t stop him. He has been sucked in to the commercialization of society by demanding Ninja Turtle everything. You gave your baby drinkable yogurt. The baby poured drinkable yogurt all over his car seat and all over himself, so when you brought him inside you just stripped him down to his diaper and let the dog lick out the drinkable yogurt from his pants, and then you let the baby wander around in just a diaper and socks all afternoon, all while he cried for more drinkable yogurt. Until it’s time for a bath and you take off his diaper and plunk him in the tub only to realize that you haven’t taken off his socks.

So. I decided to bake some bread.

I am a terrible bread baker. It takes a certain touch and some patience and an amount of precision that I just don’t have. It’s a science. But there’s this recipe for no-knead bread that seemed easy enough. So I tried it. 

3 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 1/2 or so cups of warm water

a lot of patience.

that’s it. 

voila. Bread.

Four simple ingredients that, when they are what they are, when you let them do what they are meant to do, they work together and, Bread.

It didn’t turn out perfect. It wasn’t even particularly pretty. The crust was a little too hard. And there are a few hot spots in the pan that made dark circles on the bottom. But there it was, bread.

And, also, a desire. For more bread. 

So I made another batch. I didn’t even clean out the bowl from the first batch. I just kept going. I added more flour and more yeast and salt and mixed in the water and I let it sit, once again. 

And life went on. The yeast multiplied and grew and bubbled, and the gluten formed, and the Facebook kept on hollering at me, and the boys kept leaving their apple slices where the dog could get them, and the husband kept leaving his boxers on the bathroom floor, and I kept tripping over my own shoes that I leave lying around the front door. 

And the yeast kept rising.

Once in awhile I’d look over at the stove and peek through the plastic wrap, and I’d see the dough rising, the gluten sticking, the simplicity of four ingredients simply doing what they were made to do, being what they were made to be — together, becoming bread.

What is the most important commandment?

Love God. 

And like it, Love each other.

That’s it.
Two ingredients that come together to make the body of Christ.

The lawyer asks Jesus, what’s the most important thing, the one thing that we need more than anything else? What’s the one thing?

And Jesus gives him two.

Sure. Flour is probably the most important ingredient when it comes to making bread, but if you don’t have yeast, and you don’t have water, then we’ll have nothing but powder in our mouths. 

What’s the point of having flour if you don’t have yeast? If you don’t have water?

What’s the point of loving God with all that you have if you don’t love what God loves?

What are the things we need most in this world? 
To love God, and to love what God loves. 
We need to chew on more than dust. We need real bread. We need the whole recipe. 

How do we love what God loves?

One thing I learned about making bread is that you can definitely work the dough too hard.  If you mess with it too much, it becomes rubbery, tough, and the dough collapses.

If you rush it, the yeast doesn’t have time to grow, it doesn’t get to do what it was made to do, and you’ll get something more akin to bricks than bread.

Like letting all those voices in, letting in all the criticism and the laundry list of stuff to do, you’re gonna get nothing but bricks.

But bread baking is not really that hard. It just takes patience and a trained eye. It takes the ability to let it go and let it sit and to trust that the flour and the yeast and the water and the salt are going to do what they were made to do. You just have to let the ingredients be. The baking of bread is almost too simple. 

How do we love what God loves?

We let the body of Christ be what it was made to be. Healing the sick. Offering a word of hope. Eating together. 
Broken for us. Loaves of food for us.
We let it sit when it needs to sit.
When we let it rise.
We knead it and press it out and we let it rise again.

Jesus didn’t rush. He was a pretty poor multitasker. He didn’t juggle demands or question his worth. He was. He was here. He was present. He was. He is. 

Being and Presence.

We are still going to rush around sizing each other up, comparing parenting techniques, cussing each other out in traffic and putting our kids in the bath still wearing their socks. We are going to tell our kids that we’re listening to them while we are also trying to take the scissors away from the baby and turn off the TV and stir the mac and cheese that the kids have had for the third time that week. We are still going to collapse in our beds at night feeling as though we have failed. 

We are still going to think that the only way for a church to stay open or for our kids to grow up or for our marriages to survive is to do and do and do and do. 

Meanwhile, there’s a loaf of bread, baking in the oven.

Meanwhile, yeast is multiplying in a bath of warm water and salt and flour.

Meanwhile, God is loving and loving and loving and we are invited to enter in.

We are invited to let go of the driving and the messaging and the emailing and the planning, and sit and ferment. 
Sit and be. 

We can stop trying and doing and manipulating the Body of Christ.
We can be the Body of Christ. 

What would it look like if, instead of doing and doing and doing, if we could simply be?

What would The Church look like if instead of "doing church,"  we could Be The Church?

I think maybe we’d have bread.
I think maybe we’d be fed.
And other hungry folks would come in and want to be fed too.
And we'd go out to the hungry folks and feed them right where they are.

And maybe the bread wouldn’t be perfect. Maybe it’d have too thick a crust and the bottom would be burnt and it’d be lopsided and lumpy. Maybe we’d have little boys running around with soggy socks and dirt under their fingernails. Maybe we’d still question our own value, and we’d still be tripping over our shoes, and the dog will still be doing our laundry by licking the yogurt out of our baby’s pants. 

But it’d be good to eat. And it would nourish us. And it would be broken for us. And we’d share it. 
And we’d love God, and we’d love our neighbor. 

And it’d be good.

Thanks be to God. 

No comments:

Post a Comment