On Being Kneaded and Becoming Needed
It’s interesting how Lent can trigger past memories long forgotten. Of course, the triggering could be attributed to several things. For me, it could be that I recently spent time with my sister’s family and other relatives in Florida, where I grew up. As a child, one of my fondest memories was awakening to the smell of freshly baked bread.
Now, eating freshly baked bread is great; however, awakening to the smell, with the anticipation of eating, is simply wonderful. You just know you’re in for a treat.
As I was growing up, it took time for me to understand the process of baking bread, I remember thinking it was magical. My mom kneaded the bread and placed a tiny round loaf in a pan that magically rose to baking level. It was transformational. I later learned the magic was in both the kneading and the leaven. Bread could not rise without both the leaven, which we know as yeast, and the kneading.
The thought and process of baking bread remind me of how we undergo transformation on our journey of faith. In Matthew Jesus shares the parable of the woman who makes bread. He says, “Imagine a woman preparing a loaf of bread. The kingdom of heaven is like the leaven she folds into her dough. She kneads and kneads until the leaven is worked into all the dough.” Matthew 13:33 (The Voice)
Isn’t that what God does with us? Through God’s grace we are kneaded and kneaded until the “leaven” or word of God is worked into us. Sometimes, those words fall on deaf ears, and during those times, we are unable to rise because we are truly challenged. Yet, I believe even with our challenges, there are reasons for us to expect the promise of God’s grace.
You see, even in the hard times, we still have so much. We have life; we have family and friends; we have community, and we have the presence of God, who will continue to knead and transform our lives. We must remember that every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the God of light, with whom there is no variation or shadow. Thankfully, the unconditional love of God never changes.
Now, if someone referred to me as “dough,” I believe I would find no humor in that reference. However, as I consider the magical, transformative process of baking bread, I realize that we can all be “dough” while choosing to allow God to knead us into glorious loaves of bread that may serve many purposes. One can be a loaf that helps to feed the hungry. One can be a loaf that engenders prayer. One can be a loaf that gives hope. One can be a loaf that brings community together. One can be a loaf that through its presence manifests the grace, mercy and love of God.
So, the question is: what kind of loaf do you desire to be this Lent?
Today’s Daily Lenten Meditation is by Zelda Kennedy, Senior Associate for Pastoral Care. Watch for daily postings from All Saints Church as we take the forty day journey to Easter together.