Thoughts on Baking Bread
As the fall moves in and leaves change their colors, trading the dark green of late summer for the orange, red, and gold of Autumn, I begin to bake bread.
I begin to break bread when twilight comes quickly and a chill is ever-present in the air. I begin to break bread when the dark of winter is not yet upon us and the glow of Autumn shines through orange candles.
Making bread is often better therapy than a counseling session.
I think about baking bread on my way home from work as I watch the sun setting too early and feel the crisp air that will soon usher in winter.
I think about setting the oven at 350 degrees as I start the yeast rising. I think about the ingredients: wheat flour, white flour, oats, yeast, oil, sugar, salt. So simple–yet yielding so much.
I mix up the oats, sugar, salt, whole wheat flour, and oil. I add boiling hot water.
I wait and then add yeast and the rest of the flour.
And then I take the slightly sticky dough and I knead. I knead and I pray.
I start global and I go local. I pray for Egypt and Pakistan, for peace, for mercy. I pray for the chasm of misunderstanding between East and West. I pray for Syria, that a miracle will happen. I pray for my family, that my children will know the joy of baking bread, of creating, of loving, of forgiveness and forgiving. I pray for my parents – thank God for them and what they have passed to me.
And then I pray that I will forgive more and judge less, that I will find my strength and security in the One who is the bread of life,
I pound harder on the bread when I’m upset, when I feel hurt or anger rise to my eyes and heart. I concentrate deeply as I think about life in all its hard and all its good. And as I do the bread becomes smoother under my hands.
This time in the kitchen, baking bread? It is holy time, holy work.
I set the bread to rise and I thank God for bread and for life.
When a Piece of Bread is not a Piece of Bread –
In 2008 HSBC Bank unrolled a brilliant advertising campaign. Called “Different Values”, the campaign showed three pictures side by side.
Sometimes it was three identical pictures with a different word across each picture:
Other times it was three different pictures with the same word across each picture:
Related articles – In the spirit of the article I thought I’d post a recipe!
- Banana Bread Cookies with Streusel Topping (bakerunlive.com)
I knew there had been offense. I had said things. I had done things. And I was sorry. I was so sorry – for the hurt, for my mouth running away without consulting my brain, for my meanness, born out of my pain. The person had done nothing to warrant my rage. They just happened to be the one present when I lost it.
“Against you and you only have I sinned and done what is wrong in your sight” The words of Psalm 51 echoed in my head. “Against against against you you you only only only” – as though I was yelling across a mountain, the valley between. The realization echoed as well – I had sinned against God – and I had also wronged another.
I needed Abigail’s bread.
The story of Abigail’s bread is from the Old Testament. Abigail was first the wife of Nabal, a mean and surly man we are told. She was intelligent and beautiful and when she saw there had been an offense toward a group of men, she acted. She prepared bread, wine, sheep, grain, figs, raisins – a regular feast, and she set off to make it right. She didn’t know how she would be received but compelled to go, she went in faith.
So I baked bread and set off. Nervous, stomach aching, heart pounding, not sure how I would be received. But there had been offense and I needed to make it right. I didn’t have the wine or the sheep, the figs or the raisins, but I had bread.
And God graciously softened the heart of the offended and the bread was accepted.
This story in the Old Testament is amazing. It is a story of a strong woman, a smart woman, and a woman who loved God. She would not be paralyzed by offense; she would act.
I have witnessed much offense in the last few days. Not in person but over the internet and I wish that I could intervene. Through the medium of comments, people’s mouths have not been connected to their brains and there is hurt. I desperately want to bake bread and intervene.
And so this blog post – this is my offering; my “Abigail’s Bread”. In life there is a lot of offense. I offend, and I am offended. But knowing there is bread, both Abigail’s and the body of the One who died for offense is hope indeed. Today may you both give and taste Abigail’s bread; bread that offers pardon and hope.
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal…..23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say……27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption…..32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”….35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.” (excerpts from 1 Samuel 25 New International Version)