The Yeast, by Katie Snipes Lancaster
Again he said, “To what can I compare God’s kingdom? It’s like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through the whole.” Luke 13:20–21
Reflection: The simplicity of this parable opens me up to its possibilities. I can picture the bakerwoman. I can see her bowl. I can visualize her kitchen prepared, yeast ready. Not only was she ready with the yeast, I imagine her anticipating what came next. She didn’t wonder, “what will happen if I place this yeast in the bushel of wheat flour?” She knew. Whether she knew from years of experience, or from training that was generations deep, she knew what the yeast would do. The yeast would work its way through the whole.
A bushel of wheat flour turned to bread would feed many. She could picture the people arriving to fill their empty bellies with the feast she was preparing. But she is not eager or impatient. She’s traveled this ancient road before. Hide the yeast. Wait. See what is possible.
In this short two sentence parable, Jesus tells a provocative story that is no ordinary story. A parable is a story that tells another story. Jesus is not instructing us how to bake bread. Jesus is showing us what God’s kingdom is like. In God’s kingdom, yes there is something hidden, something going on beneath the surface, something God-hued mixed in and making its way through the whole. Hopkins says, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” and while we might like Hopkins’ more emphatic unambiguous language about God’s activity in the world, Jesus’ style is to tell us without telling us. Jesus tells us what God’s kingdom is like by coming alongside the ordinary and saying “Look here is where you might see and know something important about the mystery of the divine who is right here in our midst.”
Let your kingdom draw near,
loaf by ordinary loaf.