“Again he said to them, “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 (CEB)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this short parable from Jesus. The image of the woman surreptitiously concealing yeast in a bushel of flour is intriguing. It’s as though Jesus suggests that kingdom work is sometimes a stealth operation. It is an affirmation that already the yeast of God’s rule and realm has been slipped in unnoticed, where it is quietly gaining ground, undetected, just beneath the surface. The whole thing has the feel of a spy thriller.
I, for one, take great comfort in the fact that the reign of God might sneak up on me at any moment. I find even greater comfort knowing that because the yeast has already been deployed, even the unlikeliest places are host to the leavening power and presence of God’s gracious governance – whether they realize (or even desire) it or not.
I found myself reflecting on this parable and the truth it contains on a recent trip to our southern border. At times I was nearly overwhelmed by the painful realities we witnessed there, and it would have been all too easy to become discouraged. I found refuge here in the words of Jesus. There is no system – no matter how warped, broken, or oppressive – where there is not an opening by which the Holy Spirit has already slipped in and is, like a little yeast hidden in some flour, slowly diffusing through the whole batch. Our surreptitious Savior is transforming and redeeming from the inside out, on the sly. Even amidst unspeakable cruelty, the kingdom of God is bubbling underneath the surface, just waiting to burst forth. Blessed are those who have eyes to see it.
This is true of nations and policies and denominations. And it is true of individuals. In this Lenten season, we can take heart as we remember that there is nothing and no one into whom the leaven of God’s love and grace has not been poured, in anticipation of that day when, having worked its way through the whole, God will be all in all.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
Your reign is already present on our earth in mystery.
When you come, it will be brought to perfection.
That is the hope that inspires us.
We know that every effort to better society,
especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained,
is an effort that you bless,
that you want,
that you demand from us.
Demand it from us once again, Lord. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To raise awareness this week:
Review immigration study guides, available from the NC Council of Churches.
To become educated this week:
Find information about the number of detentions and deportations happening in your community, and discuss with others the trends you are seeing.
To advocate this week:
Begin to advocate with neighboring immigrant churches in your community.
Jack Colenda is a provisional elder in the North Carolina Conference currently serving Atlantic UMC in the Sound District.