Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lessons in Bread-Making from the Bread of Life

The homey fragrance wafts its way from the kitchen throughout the whole house, bringing with it memories of other times and places, other kitchens made warm and pleasantly steamy from an oven full of homemade bread. Of course the first one that comes to mind is the kitchen I grew up in, the kitchen in Canada where I learned under the patient and practiced hand of my mother how to measure and mix, to knead and form dough into loaves or rolls. How I loved to come home from school to find her just taking one of her beautiful creations out of the oven--best after school snack EVER!! I remember visits to a tiny kitchen in South Dakota where my Great Auntie Bess made homemade bread that was like food for the angels. I remember Thanksgiving Days in Iowa in the kitchen of my Auntie Marilyn, and of course my Grandma Ellen in her big old Iowa farmhouse, and my Grandma Laurene in the little yellow house my Grandpa built for her.

Here in California, in my own kitchen, I have been baking bread for Thanksgiving--rolls to be exact, rolls in the shape of cloverleaves. Two hundred and sixteen little hand-formed balls of dough, clustered together in three's to make six dozen sweet dinner rolls. That's a lot of time to let my mind wander around the back roads of Thanksgiving memories and today's graces that call forth gratitude.

Baking bread by hand is a timeless thing. There is something so personal and elemental about putting your own two hands on that warm, soft dough, working and kneading it til the strands of gluten get strong and stretchy to allow the yeast to puff it up into airy goodness. I think it's how the love gets in.

Jesus was a bread-maker too. 

"Then he took the seven loaves into his hands, and with a prayer of thanksgiving broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people; and this they did."  Mark 8:6 (PHILLIPS) 

Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Bread broken for us, took seven little loaves, kneaded by the hands of women whose names we'll never know and with a thankful prayer to His Father, He broke the bread into enough pieces to feed four thousand men and their families . . . until they were full . . . with plenty left over.  And I thought six dozen rolls was a lot to do in one day!

On this Thanksgiving Day, as we enjoy the bounty of marvelous food and family, football and fun that our American tradition affords, I pray that we would be ever in mind of our true Bread-Maker, Jesus, who gave thanks for the little in His hand and then proceeded to do a breathtaking miracle that fed everyone in sight. Ordinary bread, hand-touched by His love for those people, became so extraordinary we're still talking about it, and it all began with Him giving thanks. Our gratitude for the bread in our hands today, may just BE the bread that is miraculously multiplied to those within our reach.  May our thankful hearts overflow in such a winsome way that there is no doubt to Whom we give our thanks.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving celebration
that lasts far beyond this day!
You are among the things I am most thankful for--thank you for blessing me with your
presence here and with your comments that so encourage me.



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