Kingdom Parables: The Parable of the Leaven

For the next few weeks in worship at Calvary, we’re considering some of Jesus’ Kingdom Parables…passages in the New Testament where he compares life in the kingdom of God to everyday events or experiences.  Each week a Calvary member will share some thoughts about a picture he or she took for our Modern Kingdom Parables photo gallery, and challenge the congregation to think in new ways about the biblical parable we’re studying. 

This week it was Julie Greene, whose thoughts are here, along with this kingdom parable picture she took:

In our Gospel lesson today, we will hear a parable in which Jesus compares the kingdom of God to the leavening of bread.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I really love this image because, well, I really love bread.  

It has become a weekly ritual of mine to venture to one of the local farmer’s markets to buy my produce for the week.  (This is where I insert a plug about the importance of supporting your local farmers.)  This ritual, however, is never complete without stopping by the bakery stand.  Whether I actually buy something or just stop to see and smell the loaves of sourdough, pumpernickel, rye, wheat, spelt, the assortment of pastries… it has become an essential piece to my market trip.

I can go on and on about this, but we’re talking about the kingdom of God, right?  So what’s the connection?  Well, what do you think of when you see this photo of bread next to the altar table?

Does it remind you of sharing a common meal with family and friends?  Maybe you have a talent for making bread, and you are thinking of the precision and the time and patience that go into producing a good loaf of bread?  Perhaps you think of a basic need being met… like providing nourishment for those who hunger?  Is a meal the way in which you show hospitality and welcome the stranger?  We will, later in the service, partake in the most significant meal of our faith – the blood and body of Christ.

Whatever your interpretation, it seems pretty clear that Jesus’ ministry, from the wedding feast at Cana to his last meal with his disciples, is often centered upon bread or a meal of some sort.

In this kingdom parable, I’m not so sure that Jesus is merely speaking of flour and yeast.  Maybe he is speaking of something that lies beyond the ingredients.  Maybe the kingdom of God lies in that which surrounds the end product – sharing a meal, giving some of what we have to those who have none, welcoming the stranger, participating in gospel community, remember Christ’s sacrifice…

This is how I view the kingdom of God.  What about you?

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About Amy

Senior Pastor, The Riverside Church, New York
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