Have you ever had friendship bread or homemade sourdough bread? These two breads start from a mixture that quite literally grows. It doubles in size every week or two. These two bread starters rapidly run around a community as people learn that they cannot possibly keep up with the amount of bread they produce. The first week you make your loaf of bread, next week you bake two, then four, then eight, and so on, until you are buried in loaves of bread and your children or neighbors are begging you not to give them another slice of bread.
There are two solutions to the ever-growing starter problem. You can throw out what you don’t need to keep the batch going, or give starters away to your friends. You know you have been passing out the starter batch too much when your neighbors turn down an aisle in the grocery store just to avoid you. As an experiment, someone decided to see how far they could spread out bread from a single starter batch. It was started in California and I got my jar in West Virginia about four months later. As far as I know it ended somewhere around Maine.
The gospel text this Sunday describes God’s reign in both our hearts and the world with a very similar image. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus says: The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough (NIV).”
The exact amount of flour in Jesus’ story is in question, as some copies of the Greek text tell us it was the equivalent to about sixty pounds (or between forty and sixty loaves), and other merely enough for a single loaf of bread (between four and six cups). Whichever was the original, it scarcely changes the…
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