From the Pastor

August 2017 Newsletter

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33

The woman must have been baking bread for her whole village! The recipe I use for making bread requires about one pound of flour, which makes a good solid loaf that will last Rob and me for nearly a week. Sixty pounds of flour- wow. That would be one and a half of those giant 40-pound bags of dog food that you can barely tip into your trunk. It’s amazing that just a few yeast organisms can leaven more flour than we could carry.

Yeast is so amazing because it’s alive. It’s a single-celled fungus that eats available carbohydrates to make more of itself. So if you want to make bread, you only need a few organisms, because they are able to reproduce themselves. The byproducts are carbon dioxide bubbles, which are trapped in the bread dough and make it light and spongy, and ethanol, which is destroyed during cooking.

Sometimes the positive words that we speak can have as much impact in others’ lives, as yeast does in bread dough. For example, a teacher telling us that we are really talented musicians, or that we are really good at math, can change the course of our lives. Those words can determine what we study and what career we go into. Or friends telling us what they most admire about us- we’ll cherish those words throughout our lives. Those words live. We’ll remember them when times are hard, and find comfort in them.

Unfortunately, tiny negative things can also have a disproportionately large effect on the things around them. Viruses, for instance. They are so tiny that you can’t even see them with a regular microscope; for viruses, you need an electron microscope. A single virus much smaller than a single cell of yeast can knock down a 150-pound person with flu or shingles.

Viruses have such a disproportionate effect because they are able to hijack your body’s living cells. They don’t live independently, but they can and do take over cells that are alive, and transform them into virus production factories.

In the same way, negative words can hijack a living community and cause a lot of suffering. In the July 25th Union Democrat, the columnist “Dear Annie” made that point quite clearly. She quoted a poem entitled “Nobody’s Friend” (author unknown), which includes the following lines:

“I break hearts and ruin lives…

“I topple governments and ruin marriages…

“I spawn suspicion and generate grief”

“I make innocent people cry in their pillows”

“Even my name hisses”

“I am called Gossip”

Words are small things. But they have more power than we might realize. Words can have their own life, and words can also hijack other life. Do we want our words to be yeast, or virus? Let’s choose yeast.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Janet

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