Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 51

1 Kings v 8 – 24; Galatians 5 v 7 – 11

Bread on a Bank Holiday

There is nothing worse than a wet Bank Holiday Monday. Outdoor activities are limited and those plans for a family outing are shattered. As a youngster, my mum always had a range of suggestions for me to adopt on such occasions, get out your colouring books and pencils, get out a nice book to read, tidy your bedroom, or even worse, sort out your toy box. None of these suggestions were appealing or capable of breaking down the physiological barrier of disappointment and boredom.

So it was on Monday 3rd May 2021 when the rain poured down, the wind blew a gale and the temperature dropped, that I decided to take a leaf from mum’s book, not to do the bedroom or the toy box, but to attack the kitchen cupboards. Tidy them all up, put new wallpaper offcuts on the shelves, something past down from my mum and my mother in law, and throw away any unwanted items.

I started with the food cupboard. It is surprising what you can find at the back of a food cupboard. An opened jar of pickled onions dated 2018, which was opened on Christmas Day and then forgotten, a packet of bread sauce mix of the same era, and a Tupperware container containing the remnants of a packet of Cornflour from an unknown date and time. Then there are the small glass bottles of herbs and spices, Bay leaves, now dried, withered and crispy, Cloves, probably from Christmas 2018 partnered with the unions, and some unknown brown powder without a label.

Having successfully negotiated the food cupboard, I then turned my attention to the other side of the kitchen and the cupboards that are less frequently visited. These are where the electrical goods which were on special offer at the time of purchase, reside. These include, the, ‘Juicer’, which is a gadget for extracting juice from fruit etc. to make a refreshing healthy drink, we bought it at the start of our healthy eating initiative, used it once to see if worked, then put it in its place in the cupboard. It lives alongside the handheld food mixer which is a twin to another food mixer in the adjacent cupboard. Also in there is the toasted sandwich maker and a box of accessories for the hand held food mixer that never seemed to fit properly. Beneath all these snuggly sit the two coffee making machines, one more elaborate than the other, but used just as often.

However, the crowning glory must go to the bread making machine, which I hasten to add, has been used on several occasions. It is a remarkable piece of engineering which with little effort produces quality results. Simply load into the non-stick box the required amounts of flour, milk, salt, butter and yeast, switch on and in an hour and a half, as if by magic, you have a loaf of bread. The house is filled with the aroma of baking bread which triggers a yearning for hot freshly cooked bread and butter.  

There are several references in the Bible to bread making and yeast but one that attracts me is the story of Elijah and the widow in Zarapeth. The action takes place at a time when the entire region was in the grip of a severe drought and famine. Food was scarce and ingredients for the very basic essentials such as bread were simply not available. Add to this scenario a poor widow and her son with just enough flour and oil to make one small loaf of bread hardly sufficient for the son, after which they would face death by starvation, and we realise the impossible situation this woman found herself. Despite this, as she recognised Elijah as being a holy man, she agreed to share what she had with him. 

As with everyone who sacrifices themselves for God’s work, the widow was rewarded with a seemingly endless supply of flour and oil, enough for her needs and her son and Elijah for the duration of the draught. The widow would also witness God’s love when her son took ill and died, but was raised back to life by God through Elijah.

Both Jesus and Paul used illustrations of yeast in relation to the spread of evil in society from a small start to infect many people.

Paul’s letter to the Galatians points out that a small amount of yeast can make a dough rise to twice its size. In the same way evil will from a small source spread amongst society, but the love of God is more powerful and will overcome the source of all evil.

The problem with my bread maker is that the fresh baked bread is so tempting and inviting that you just can’t resist the temptation to try some while it is hot, which results in trip to the local Coop store to buy another loaf for tea.  

Derek T.