In the reading from Luke today (2:21-52), we meet Simeon and Anna – two people who greet Mary and Joseph and the young Jesus in the temple. Simeon was a man to whom it had been revealed that he would not die before he saw the Messiah and he finally does in Jesus. Anna had a similar sense and she went to proclaim to Jerusalem what she had witnessed. This morning, after reading this passage, I read a chapter in a book I started the other day called “Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate” by John Joseph Thompson. The chapter I read this morning was focused on the history of bread baking and he spoke of how we lost something when bread (and many other items) went the way of processed and mass-production. He spoke of how this has influenced our faith and how we so desire the quick fix in our faith.
Christians, especially evangelicals like me, often like to pulverize the gospel into small, fine, easy-to-digest particles. But if our creed can fit on a bumper sticker, we’re doing it wrong…In the process, however, we risk turning the Bread of Life into a Twinkie.
Anna and Simeon were two people who did not live a mass-produced, quick and easy faith. Simeon had waited how many years after hearing that promise before he saw it fulfilled? Anna had probably lived with a similar sense herself. If they were looking for the quick fix, they would not have been waiting there that day – they would have long since given up.
Following Jesus, like baking good bread, takes time and is not a fast process. It is the mixing of many ingredients, the process of mixing, kneading, rising, kneading some more, shaping, and eventually completion. There’s nothing quick about it and the more we try to hurry it, the less the bread will come out the way it is supposed to.
So, on this Maundy Thursday, preparing for Good Friday, and waiting for Easter, slow down and trust in the slow rhythm of God’s working in life.
Side note – this was an interesting bit of trivia…Again from Jesus, Bread, & Chocolate…
Although it would be another century before contemporary science and the United States government came to accept the nutritional facts about processed flour, in the early 1800s, a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham (1794 – 1851) became an early proponent of whole grain foods, vegetarianism, and temperance. In 1829, he invented graham bread, a hearty loaf made of unsifted whole grain flour. His recipe serves as a precursor to the health foods of today. Later, Graham’s flour was used to make crackers (yes, graham crackers), and while the medical and scientific communities of his day mocked him and corporate bakeries and meat processing companies castigated him, his avant-garde teaching, motivated in large part by his strident faith, was enormously influential on John Kellogg and other early critics of industrialized food. Graham believed the chemicals added to flour made it unhealthy — which later proved true.