Blessed… Let the Dough Rise

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough” (Matthew 13:33, Common English Bible).

My friend Paul makes a lot of bread. No, he isn’t a baker, he just makes a lot of homemade bread that is very delicious. I enjoy eating it very much.

In these days of convenience we live in, Paul and others like him, don’t make bread in the ways our mothers and even more their mothers and grandmothers did during previous generations. This isn’t a complaint, it is a statement of the facts. Paul, as well as most others I know who make bread, throw all the ingredients in a bread machine, turn it on and let the machine do its thing. About three and a half hours later, out comes a hot loaf of homemade bread.

While I love that we have homemade bread far more regularly due to this modern technology, I miss the times from my childhood (though they didn’t happen often) when I would see bread made. It fascinated me that after the kneading was done, the dough was left in a covered bowl. It would rise to twice the original size. It was then punched down, kneaded again, divided and placed in loaf pans where it was allowed to rise again to twice its original size.

The growing dough was interesting. Yeast was placed in the dough and it was worked until it permeated all the dough, causing it to rise.

Through out most of Scripture, leavening is a metaphor for evil and how, once in, it can destroy. Here Jesus takes a different angle. He uses the leavening to illustrate the growth of the Kingdom. Much like my fascination with how the leavening changed the bread when I was a kid, this is a pretty interesting comparison as well.

I think Jesus, here, is talking about the growth of the community of faith. When faith is introduced to the community, and we keep working the community, the community grows just as when a baker works the yeast into bread dough, the dough grows. As the community grows, both in number and faithfulness, the result becomes more growth still.

I think we can also find a secondary meaning in this parable. None of us, not the first Christians and not the Christians of our time come to the faith knowing everything there is to know about being a Christian. It is a process. It is a process that takes time, really the rest of our lives, for us to know and come to some level of understanding. We grow as individual Christians. The leavening of the Gospel continues to grow within us, it continues to work on us, growing our lives and our faith.

When we grow in our faith, the faith community grows too. We become closer to God and closer to each other. In the end, that leavening does a good thing.

How does the leavening work in your life?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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