God Our Baker

CALL TO WORSHIP: Dear friends in Jesus, God has given us the best gift possible. By His Holy Spirit, He is with us always, the best companion that we could have. Let us then offer the very best that we can in our worship today; for our generous God deserves nothing less.

Lord, at the beginning of this service, bless us with Your presence and teach us Your laws. You have wonderful things for us to learn, things that will make us wise, and help us to live in the right way.

Help us to hear You when You speak to us, and show us how to act on what we hear. For we know that Your way is best. Amen.

HYMN 102: FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH-StF

PRAYER OF ADORATION: There is nothing in this wide world or beyond it

That can separate us from God’s love. Let us praise Him, whose love is stronger than anything else.

Let us pray.

Lord, Your strong love surrounds us; We are held safe in Your care.

Lord, you understand us so well. Even when we struggle to find words in our prayers, You still hear us.  When we are feeling confused, You reach out to us. You have called us, and we are Yours.

Lord, Your strong love surrounds us; We are held safe in Your care.

No matter what anyone else may say, You always love and accept us.  You showed Your love by sending Jesus who died for us. You raised Him from death, and now He prays for us in heaven. When we look at Him, we understand how great Your love must be.

Lord, Your strong love surrounds us; We are held safe in Your care.

Whatever else may go wrong for us, Your love will never fail. Nothing can separate us from Your love.  It was there yesterday, it is there today and it will be there tomorrow and forever.

Lord, Your strong love surrounds us; We are held safe in Your care.

Praise You, Lord, for Your great love. Amen

TALK FOR ALL: MUSTARD SEEDS AND YEAST (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52)

Size doesn't matter in the Kingdom of heaven

Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." What can we learn from the mustard seed? Well, I think we can learn that we are never too small to be important in God's eyes. You and I may be small, but we can help to grow the kingdom of God.

Some of you may not be familiar with yeast. Do you know what happens when you take a tiny amount of yeast and mix it with water and flour, salt and little bit of sugar? The yeast spreads all through that mixture and produces dough that gives you big, soft, fluffy, delicious loaves of bread. The flour and water and sugar and salt just can't do it alone. The yeast has an effect on everything — just from one tiny piece. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." That is what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us, as part of his kingdom, to change the world around us and make it better.

The ministry of Jesus started very small—twelve men in an obscure corner of Galilee—but it has spread throughout the world. Like a small amount of yeast affects the entire loaf, the disciples of Jesus have affected the entire world. The nature of yeast is to grow and to change whatever it contacts. When we accept Christ, his grace grows in our hearts and changes us from the inside out. As the gospel changes lives, it changes the entire world.

You may be small, but like the mustard seed and the yeast, you are important in the kingdom of heaven.

Father, help us to remember that size is not important in your kingdom. You can use even the smallest one of us to grow the kingdom and bring change to the world around us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

HYMN 138: SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD StF

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING:  Gracious God, when Solomon prayed, he asked for Your wisdom to guide him. But we confess that very often we think that we know best. We fail to listen to what You say to us, and go our own way.

Sometimes, we pretend that we have not heard You speaking; at other times, we know perfectly well what You want us to do, but we deliberately do what does not please You.

Forgive us Lord, we pray, and guide us by Your Holy Spirit, so that we may walk in Your way, for You know what is best. Amen

READINGS: MATTHEW 13: 31-33, 44-52

HYMN 326 JESUS COMES WITH ALL HIS GRACE- StF

SERMON: THE WORK OF THE BAKER (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52)

Today I’d like us to picture the world as an ungainly, promising mass of dough.

The comedian comes out on stage, and starts his routine. In a rapid-fire monologue he serves up jokes. His timing is masterful, and the one-liners burst forth in succession, with precision, so that you can’t help but laugh.

Jesus comes out in front of the crowds, and starts his teaching. In a rapid-fire monologue, he serves up parables. His timing is masterful, and these word pictures burst forth in succession, with precision, so that you can’t help but see.

Here there’s a similarity between Jesus and a stand-up comic. The comedian makes you laugh. Jesus makes you see, and what you see is something of the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognized.

The routine Jesus offers in today’s Gospel is a bonanza: five short parables in a row. All of them are gems. Parables about a mustard seed, treasure buried in a field, a pricey pearl, and a fishing net. Then there’s one I’d like us to focus on this morning: the parable about yeast in the flour.

It’s a one-liner. You might have missed it if you sneezed when the Gospel was read. Maybe I can’t tell it like Jesus did, but here we go: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in with three measures of meal, until it was all leavened” (v. 33).

Three measures of flour! Do you know how much that is? About eighty pounds! This woman is not Mary Berry whipping up a couple delicate exquisite little biscuits that together weigh less than a canary. No, no. This woman is a baker!

She’s emptying sixteen five-pound bags of flour into the biggest mixing bowl you’ve ever seen. She’s pouring in forty-two cups of water! She’s got a mass of dough on her hands that weighs over a hundred pounds! Kneading this lump of dough, shaping it, pounding it.  It looks like some scene at the end of a professional wrestling match. Here we have a no-nonsense operation. Sports fans, this is baking at its best. A woman, with her apron dusted with flour, her ten fingers deep into the dough — she’s a combination of Julia Child and Hulk Hogan.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in with three measures of meal, until it was all leavened.” Jesus tosses out this parable, this one-liner, and he does so for a purpose. Just as the stand-up comic wants us to laugh, Jesus wants us to glimpse the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognized.

Take another look at that huge mass of dough. It’s not just flour any more. The yeast is in the dough, invisible, but permeating the mass, and having its effect. A mystery is bubbling away inside, with much more happening than meets the eye. As this process continues, the hidden will become manifest. There’s no way to stop it! The movement from mystery to manifestation: Jesus presents this to us as the pulse of the kingdom of heaven. Here is how God’s sovereignty becomes apparent: it resembles the strange transformation that turns flour into dough.

We get to watch the baker at work. We’re invited to look at this process and see it for what it’s worth. But if we’re to get a glimpse of the kingdom, if we’re to look down to the center of this parable, then two things are asked of us: we must be patient, and we must exercise discernment.

Yeast takes a while to work, and its working is mysterious. So we have to be patient as the dough rises and comes to life. This dough is not a dead lump, a hopeless, shapeless pile, but instead a universe where opportunities become real. The baker is at work with our life, our circumstances, and the people around us. Nothing is outside this lump of dough.

We need to be patient, to exercise discernment, if a lump of dough is ever to be bread for the world. And we must exercise this same patience and discernment about the universe. Life’s something other than a pile of flour and a bit of yeast. Life is an ungainly, promising mass of dough, on its way to becoming abundant bread. Just as yeast permeates the entire lump, so the kingdom is present everywhere, and everywhere it becomes manifest for those with eyes to see.

If we look around us and within us, we can recognize the presence of the kingdom. That kingdom is at work, just as yeast is active in the dough. And as yeast is invisible and known by its effects, so the kingdom is hidden, concealed, buried deep in ordinary circumstances, yet known by its effects.

Look at your life in the light of grace. Something is there for you to find–whether you feel happy or sad, whether your life seems successful or disastrous, whether you call yourself a winner or a loser. That something is the activity of the kingdom, yeast bubbling away in your corner of the lump.

And when you find the kingdom among the realities of your life, nothing prevents you from finding this same kingdom present as well in the circumstances that surround you, in the lives of other people, and everywhere you choose to look.

There’s one caution to keep in mind. The kingdom does not come with brass bands. It’s not the subject of headline news and public relations efforts. We’re talking here about yeast working invisibly in the dough, a hidden yet potent activity.

As it takes faith to believe that bread will rise, so too faith is necessary to see the kingdom manifest in the everyday and the ordinary. We must exercise patience and discernment wherever God places us. Then we will see that what seems like a dead lump is in fact bubbling with divine life.

So may each of us go forth this week, and encounter places and people and circumstances, and look there for the kingdom:

— not as distant, but near at hand;
— not as obvious, but hidden;
— not as static, but alive and becoming manifest;
— a kingdom making room for all of us.

When we look for the kingdom, then we find it present, abundantly present. And when we do, then we have more reasons to give thanks than we ever expected.

We discover it’s true, that one-liner Jesus tells us. All the world is a lump of dough, flour with yeast mixed in, and SURPRISE! God’s a baker making bread.

HYMN 689: SUMMONED BY GOD WHO MADE US StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: Today, everyone must think about the bead he or she must have eaten. This is to help remind us of the merchant in the story that Jesus told. The man sold everything he had in order to buy a precious pearl.

Jesus tells us that working to make the world as God wants it to be is just like buying the pearl; it’s worth everything we’ve got. As we think about our favourite hymn and how it has always reminds us about how our faith in God has helped us in times of trials and decision making.

Let’s think what God might be wanting to do in order to make our lives, our homes, our church, our places of work into places where His kingdom can be seen. Amen

We ask this prayer in the name of Jesus. AmenThe Lord’s Prayer

HYMN 687: WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD-HP

BLESSINGS: Lord, as we go, guide our steps and be a light to our path, so that we may be the very best we can be for You.

The blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit Be upon us and remain with us always. Amen