Bible & Baked Goods

Matthew 13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

    Before I moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania, I purchased sourdough starter. I threw it into the fridge and didn’t deal with it until this week. If you are wondering what that is, it is the essence that gives sourdough bread its distinctive taste. Sourdough starter is an interesting, living thing. It needs to be fed for several days. It interacts with the yeast spores in your kitchen and incorporates them as it develops. You “feed” it flour and water for several days, then you up it to 2x a day. Each time you discard all but a half cup, and that is the portion that gets fed.

It’s amusing to me that Jesus compares heaven to yeast and flour. It speaks to my daily ritual of starter upkeep, and it makes me feel less nerdy about being excited by a bubbling concoction of whole wheat flour and water, sprinkled with yeast spores that pollute our daily air. If you have never encountered it, let’s see if I can imagine what connection exists between heaven and my new obsession.

1. It builds over time Yeast doesn’t work instantly. It methodically works to create carbon dioxide from the flour and that takes a while. It requires patience, just like waiting for the sweet reward we hope awaits us in eternity. Just as you use your life to create levity and joy, you inadvertently create an earthly version of heaven.

2. It feeds off the world around it.  Wild yeast, and yes that’s what Jesus is talking about- there were no Kroger’s with Fleishman’s Yeast in the dairy case- feeds off the yeast spores floating through the air. It captures it, and together with flour it creates lightness and substance. Shouldn’t that be what heaven is like? A substance impacted by the goodness that abides within and around it?

3. It take the ordinary and makes it both satiating and extraordinary. What I love about baking is that you take everyday items (flour, water, salt… and maybe sugar and eggs if it’s a cake or cookie) and you create a space for magic to happen. Call it science, call it chemistry, call it the miracle of creation, but truly it is quite an amazing thing to generate something delicious and satisfying (not to mention fuel for the body) from dry flour and clear, tasteless water. It seems to give us confidence that even the dry and tasteless among us are heaven worthy as well.

I don’t know exactly what Jesus intends but I know that I have high hopes for heaven. It will be the best parts of this life amplified- people, emotions, love. Since I intend to be present, I’ll expect there will be tasty baked goods as well- perhaps a chewy sourdough loaf. Mmmm… sounds delicious!


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