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Leaven

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Matthew 13:33

A fresh sourdough loaf made from the author’s starter, Sid.

A fresh sourdough loaf made from the author’s starter, Sid.

My mom baked bread when I was a young child. I can still remember the bread pans overflowing with honey-colored dough and the steam rising as she cut the first slice. But as I grew, and as our lives grew busier, somewhere along the way the hot loaves of honey wheat bread were replaced with loaves of cracked wheat from the grocery store. Still, the memories of my mother’s bread led me to want to try making bread myself. My own adventures in bread baking began in high school when my gadget-loving dad provided me with a bread machine. Although the bread from the machine was definitely tastier than the store-bought variety, I quickly lost interest in the process. I wanted more of a challenge, so I decided to make honey wheat bread the way my mom made it. The ingredient list was long: yeast, cottage cheese, honey, milk, and two kinds of flour. But it never called for leaven.

Though I was familiar with Jesus’ parable about leaven, at the time I didn’t understand that leaven was more than just Bible-speak for active dry yeast–the only kind of yeast I had known it in its scientifically isolated form. So my bread baking went on as usual until I happened upon a documentary about sourdough bread and the fermentation process used to make it. The documentary described the way that bread was made throughout the world for centuries before scientists were able to capture yeast and put it in a powdered form. I was mesmerized by the ancient bread-making practice that unfolded in the documentary, and I was determined to try it. Read more

The Marital Politics of Communion and A Letter to Our Son

My husband grew up Catholic.  He still tells his mother he claims dual-citizenship as Catholic and Lutheran.  As part of our decision to get married, we made a decision that we value worshipping together as a family.  My husband joyfully joined the Lutheran church, with the full support of his parents.  However, the things we grew up with have a way of affecting us as adults, even if we think we’ve made a conscious decision.  This has become clear to us as we try to make decisions about our toddler son David’s faith life.  Our denominational policy on communion is that you can have communion as soon as you’re baptized, normally when you can have solid food, but local custom varies widely.

medium_169252325On Sunday mornings, as my husband would bring our son up the aisle for communion, he would smile and happily kick his legs.  Maybe because he saw his Mom, and maybe because he wanted bread.  Then he would look sad when he did not get held by Mom OR get bread.  Around 13 months he stopped coming to the table with that joy he once had, and it broke my heart.  So, we started a discussion in our home about giving David communion.

It was complicated.  At one point, my husband threw up his hands, and loudly said, “Only when you are married to a pastor does when to give your child communion become a martial conflict!”  Since he grew up Catholic, he never imagined he could be married to a pastor.  Most days this gives him joy, but not all days.  After talking and praying, we finally agreed to give our son communion on All Saint’s Sunday.  David is named partly for my father who passed away, but gave me a good foundation of faith before his death.  We thought this might be a meaningful way to honor his role in the faith of our family.

Below is the letter I composed to my son on the day of his first communion.  It lays out some of the reasons we made the decision that we made.  Most children in our congregation take communion already, so we periodically offer “New to Communion” class with graduation on Maundy Thursday.

 

All Saints Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear David,

Today you had your first communion.  Tomorrow you will turn 14 months old.  You’ve been stealing bread from Daddy for awhile, but today you got your own during communion.  (Sometimes, before, you got your own after.)  I know you are young, but here is what I want you to know:

  1.  You can always come to Jesus with a huge smile kicking your legs excitedly.  You come to mommy at communion this way now.
  2. Jesus is a good place to go when you are hungry.  Remember that when you know communion is more then a snack.
  3. Jesus is a great place to have a break or to change what you’re doing.  You love getting out the pew with Daddy and coming up front.
  4. Jesus can fill you up with good and yummy things.  In our current church, we use real bread at communion.
  5. Jesus loves and cares for your whole being, including your body and stomach.

These are things you can know about Jesus and communion now.  You will know more later, and will always be on a journey of learning more about Jesus and your faith and the amazing promises of forgiveness and new life we have in Jesus.  It is okay that you don’t understand everything now – none of us understand everything.

Mommy’s heart soared today when I gave you the bread and said “Body of Christ, Given for You”.  Your eyes lit up and you were so excited.  I hope you will, most of the time, always be this excited to experience Jesus.

I love you so very much my son, and God loves you even more.  You are a blessed and loved Child of God for always.  Jesus came for everyone, including you.  I love you with all my heart and pray that you will be strengthened though the gifts of Christ’s body and blood now and always.

Love,

Pastor Mommy (Daddy has you call me this sometimes.)

P.S.  We decided on All Saints Day in honor of your Grandpa David who is with God now, but is watching and encouraging your faith journey from there.

 

 

i  Paraphrase of: The Use of the Means of Grace: A Statement on the Practice of Word and Sacrament, Adopted for guidance and practice by the Fifth Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, August 19, 1997.  Accessed PDF Feburary 18, 2013 from http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Worship/Learning-Center/The-Use-of-the-Means-of-Grace.aspx, pp.  39-41

Election Day Communion

“Election Day Communion- Tuesday,  Nov 6 at 12:15PM in the upper chapel. As our nation goes to the polls, let us gather at God’s table- not as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, but as brothers and sisters in Christ”.

“Election Day Communion- Tuesday,  Nov 6 at 12:15PM in the upper chapel- As our nation goes to the polls, let us gather at God’s table to celebrate that we are all one in Christ”.

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