One of the things I heard most often when I was in active ministry was: “I just don’t have time to do the things that I want to do!” I know this is true, because I often thought it myself. Though, if truth be told, I usually found a way to do the things I really wanted to do! But, life today does not leave us much time to call our own, and what little there is can be quickly overwhelmed by the list of things that we have already put off. And all too often, the first thing to be set aside is the opportunity for spiritual growth and for prayer. We will get to it later, we think. Perhaps before bed. At which point we will no doubt collapse before the first “Dear God” is formed in your thoughts. But the fact is that if we do not take the time, we will never have it. And for nearly all of us, there really is time. The problem is that there are things that we think we have to do which we really don’t have to do at all.
So this meditation will give you permission to choose to take one thing off your to-do list and to replace it with something that will feed your soul and your body – as well as your family. You can even combine a couple of things into one activity. In this instance, Prayer and Bible Study along with baking bread. It’s a form of active prayer, and the rewards are tangible!
The recipe is simple, direct, and physically engaging. It’s the bread I make for daily use in our home. The list of ingredients can be found in any supermarket if you don’t already have them on your shelf.
Once you know that you have everything on hand, take a look at the ingredients in terms of Scripture passages. Read these verses and the thoughts which accompany them. Then, as you bake the bread, especially as you handle the ingredients and knead the dough, think about the meaning of the Bible verses you have just read. Let the Spirit speak to you as you work. And if prayers arise in your mind, offer them to God and ask for guidance in your life. But most of all, approach this moment with an open and grateful heart.
Daily Bread: From Dayenu
1 cup warm (not hot) water
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 large eggs + 1 egg white for a wash
2 tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 ½-3 cups organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic whole grain dark rye flour
¼ cup oatmeal.
Water ~ Genesis 21:17-19 And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. (God provides for the most basic of our needs. May our eyes be opened to see the blessings all around us.)
Leavening (eggs and yeast) ~ Leviticus 23:17 You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation-offering, each made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of choice flour, baked with leaven, as first fruits to the LORD. (When we raise our hearts in prayer and devote our hands to creative work, we are making an offering of ourselves.)
Oil and Honey ~ Deuteronomy 8:8 God will bring you to a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey. (The richness of creation surrounds us, and is a reminder that the loving kindness of God is abundant. Take note of the abundance in your life.)
Salt ~ Leviticus 2:13 You shall not omit from your grain-offerings the salt of the covenant with your God; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. (Salt is as necessary to our lives as is water. Without it, we die. Be a salty person who knows and lives in covenant with God.)
Grain and Flour ~ Genesis 18:6 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ (Abraham and Sarah offer to God the first fruits of their shared life. Are you willing to offer the choicest parts of yourself?)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
In mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with a fork.
Stir in the salt and the olive oil.
Add the yeast and the water.
Add the whole wheat flour, the rye flour and 2 cups of the white flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and work in the remaining flour as needed to make a moderately stiff dough.
Knead for up to ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl and turn to cover both sides with the oil.
Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a sheltered place (a cold oven works, and an oven with a “proof” function is perfect) and let rise until doubled or about one hour.
Punch down, shape and place into greased bread pans or shape freeform on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (or on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Brush with an egg-wash made of 1 egg white and 1 tsp water. Sprinkle with oatmeal.
Let rise again.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.
Cool on racks.
This will keep well for several days. But if you’re not going to eat it all by then, freeze it.