July 26, 2020: Trusting the Yeast

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

I love to bake bread. I love kneading the dough, with its springy feel and yeasty smell.  And of course, I love eating the bread.

One of my bread cookbooks was produced by a yeast company. This brand touts its “Rapid Rise” technology. Because the grains of yeast are smaller (I’m told), I can mix the yeast directly into the flour. I can skip the proofing stage, which involves dissolving the yeast and waiting for it to show activity.

The problem is, I don’t trust “Rapid Rise.” I never feel confident in my dough’s power to rise unless I have seen the fizz of live yeast. It is, after all, proof that the yeast is alive and working. Despite instructions, I still proof my yeast.

Unlike me, the woman in today’s parable uses the “Rapid Rise” method, mixing the yeast into the flour “until all of it was leavened” (Matthew 13:33). She seems confident in the power of the yeast. We could even say she mixes it in confidence, since the Greek says she “hid” the yeast in the flour. It’s almost a secret. She needs no proof that the bread will rise. She is sure that the yeast, hidden in the flour, has the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like that. Like a seed, or a grain of yeast in flour, or even a great pearl, it is hidden within the ordinary stuff of life, ticking with the power to transform.

How much proof do we need? Do we have to see the power at work to believe that it will not disappoint us? Or will we, by faith, accept that the power of God is present within the world, working at every moment to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary?

Ginny Hege Tobiassen, pastor, Home Moravian Church,

 Winston-Salem, North Carolina