On Saturday afternoon I baked bread. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I assure you that it was. During the peak of COVID yeast and flour were rare commodities. EVERYONE turned into bakers and the ingredients required for baking bread could not be found in any of the local supermarkets. But there is another reason why baking bread was an accomplishment ... it actually came out good! I have had mixed results when it comes to making bread. I have baked some bread that was delicious, and I have baked some that more closely resembled a brick. This week's bread was definitely in the successful category!
I did not bake the bread for my own enjoyment. I baked it so that we could serve it for communion in worship the next day. That is yet another reason why I was so very grateful that it came out well! Otherwise, it might not have been a very pleasant experience for those gathered for worship. Neither would it have made a very effective sermon illustration.
I selected a recipe that said, "The easiest yeast bread I've ever made!" I suppose that all things are relative ... because this "easy" recipe was nothing of the sort. Oh, it SOUNDS easy enough.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. But not TOO warm or you will kill the yeast!! Add salt and sugar and let is stand until the yeast is dissolved and the liquid is bubbly.
Add the flour, one cup at a time. Mix by hand until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Or ... until you are completely fatigued from mixing a dough that is stickier than wallpaper paste, the force required to mix sends flour flying around the kitchen!!
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead dough, folding it over upon itself for five minutes. The recipe actually reads at this point: "This may be a little messy, but don't give up!" Thanks for the encouragement. That was a hard, messy five minutes.
You place the kneaded dough into a greased bowl and let it rise in a warm location for two hours. You will then use the two hours to clean up all of the flour as well as the wallpaper paste that has adhered itself to mixing bowl and spoon.
It does get much easier after that.
I used the bread metaphor because Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. He is the One that can feed the hunger in our souls. I also use the metaphor because there are times when following the Way of Christ can be difficult, and sometimes messy. But as the recipe said, "Don't give up." We persevere because we are not alone in the struggle. We persevere because the end goal is holy and righteous. We persevere because our calling to love and serve our neighbors inspires us.
Let us roll up our sleeves and bake bread ... together.
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072