Oh my. It’s hard to believe that combining a few simple ingredients can elevate fresh-from-the-oven bread to an entirely new status. Warm, homemade bread is nearly perfect by itself, but the addition of sweet butter and strawberry preserves created something almost magical. So delicious that I had a hard time talking with the friends gathered around my table while we ate, because savoring the combined flavor and comfort of the tangy bread and sweet spreads distracted me from the conversation.
For the past three weeks, my Monday night community has been discussing “Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger for God with the Spiritual Disciplines” by Preston Yancey. This book is about prayer and it’s about baking bread. It guides the reader to explore nine spiritual disciplines while repeatedly making the same loaf of bread. Discovering the parallels of practice and patience required to master both.
Yancey’s writing is poetic. Putting words to the feelings deep in my heart.
“Out of the House of Bread” is a book that I’ve grown to love like a cherished friend. This is one of the rare reading experiences that I treasure the most – when the author’s words connect me to roots that are familiar, remind me of truth that is never-ending, invite me to be a better version of myself, and journey with me on the path of trying to understand the intersection The Holy and my ordinary life.
The recipes for the “Sweet Butter” and “Simple Strawberry Preserves” is in the chapter on “Feasting” – a faith practice dear to my heart. Yancey writes:
“Community is the blessing of the path, the discovery that we both do not walk it alone and that there are people waiting for us on the other side.”
“If we fast, we must feast, for in the places we acknowledge death and sin we also declare life and redemption…Feasting is an act of defiance against the powers of evil in the cosmos, a declaration the battle has already been won, God has already declared victory.”
“It is often said that life is done around the table, but it is often underappreciated how deep this work runs in us. It is not merely that when we are around a table we are sharing stories, encouraging one another, or seeking forgiveness. What we are doing is an icon of what is happening at the great table, the feast table of Jesus. We are mirroring the connectedness of the life of God and, as we mirror, participating in it…Our tables point us back to the Table. Our guests point us back to the Guest.”