I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51.
I made bread today.
I start by grinding wheat. I feed the kernels into the mill. The mill grinds them into powder, pulverizing what they once were into nourishment.
They are more whole after they are decimated, because it is only as flour-dust that they can feed the five thousand.
Lord, how many times will you ask us to die? How much longer, O Lord, will you grind us into dust? It is very hard that wholeness comes in pieces.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24.
I pour hot water into the mixer. Steam rises in ghostly rivulets as I pour. The heat will soak through the dough, unlocking the yeast. There is no risen bread without the power of the nearly-boiling baptism.
Once, two of Jesus’ disciples asked him an audacious question. “Let one of us sit at your right and one of us on your left in your glory.” To sit at either side of The King of Glory? A staggering request.
You don’t know what you are asking, Jesus said. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? Mark 10:38.
That baptism is too deep for me. I am merely earth and breath. The cost of resurrection is a baptism too great to bear. Give me grace for only this day, only this step forward. Hallelujah. You are the risen bread.
Oil and honey are next. The Spirit and the sweetness. They mingle with the crushed wheat and the singeing water. They hold it together.
Lord, in this life all that is good is grace. You blend joy and suffering in the mystery of transformation. Our honey coats us with sticky joy – we are the most blessed of your Beloved. O Jesus, we raise our faces in sated thanksgiving.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing. Deut.8:7-9.
A tablespoon of salt for seasoning.
Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Lev.2:13.
Salt = covenant. God’s faithful promises are the flavor, the seasoning, the preservation of the Bread of Life.
Lord, may I always salt my ways with your covenant. “This is my body, which is broken for you.” Your bread-body, broken in fulfillment of your everlasting promise to preserve a people for Your own possession. Salt me with your faithfulness forever.
I sprinkle yeast evenly over the bowl.
I push the button to mix. The curved metal hook scourges the contents of the bowl, forcing the dry powders into the steaming water. The spinning claw merges the separate elements into a gloppy mass. I identify bubbles at the edge – the yeast begins to do its work.
Yeast, also called Leaven. Activated by the burning baptism, the yeast infiltrates the doughy mass, creating tiny pockets of air that expand, expand, expand the dough. It begins to grow.
The pages of Scripture whisper the secrets of leaven through two opposing metaphors –
Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Luke 12:1.
Jesus asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. Luke 13:21.
The leaven that infiltrates my life is my choice. Hypocrisy or the kingdom of heaven? Fallen lies or eternal Truth? With which leaven will I sprinkle what I make of my life? What will the savage mingling of elements bubble up in me?
Life or death. That is the what is at stake with leaven. Whatever we choose will create a rising, an expansion, a slow inflation in who we become. The other ingredients remain the same – but the legacy is in the Leaven.
Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 1 Cor.5:6.
The dough is ready, after a long season of violence.
Battened dough balls transform under the heavy heat of the oven. The closed door, the sealed tomb, does its terrible work, but death buckles its knees to Resurrection Life.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10.
Later, I consume my portion in a small sanctuary of worship. It is only a piece of homemade bread, after all, but today it is Communion.
And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 1 Cor. 10:16.