My kitchen has smelt particularly aromatic recently as I have, amongst other things, attempted to bake bread, hot cross buns and marmite biscuits (mmmmm.) The first two have required yeast to make them rise. Yeast is incredible stuff. A small amount kneaded into the dough doubles or triples its’ size. Watching it grow is pretty exciting!
My original plans for Spring did not involve much baking. Then Covid-19 took hold and, although life is still very full, it is also very different. Much of my life is lived on-line via Zoom and MS Teams meetings. However, I have a strong sense that God is giving me this opportunity to ‘do life’ alongside my neighbours, both blessing and being blessed by them!
At the start of this year, my husband Andrew and I held a party for the people in our part of our street. It was a great evening and there was a sense that God was up to something. We made various plans to follow up with another event and then ‘lockdown’ happened!
But what does it mean for us to be the church here in our street at this time?
On Easter morning, I popped a card (with email address) through each letter-box. I also delivered Easter eggs to every home. On my rounds I saw Jenny in her garden – she had been at our party. Jenny mentioned something about lunch and I explained that I’d been dim (not uncommon), left the chicken out of the fridge overnight and it had ‘gone off’. By the time I returned home, there were two chicken dinners in takeaway boxes on our doorstep! Wow! Jenny blessed us so much on Easter Day!
I had several emails over the following days saying how people had been surprised and thrilled by the Easter eggs. One lady said that it had brought tears to her eyes. It was a small gesture and yet had made so much difference – perhaps much more so at this time than usual?!
Also, over the past couple of months I have painted pebbles with bumble bees, ladybirds, flowers and rainbows. On each pebble I have also put a word of encouragement such as ‘peace’ or ‘hope.’ (I write my house-number of the back of each one.) I am only half-way through our street but, little by little, everyone is receiving a pebble. People seem to really like them!
On Thursdays, like many of you, my neighbours and I go outside/lean out of our windows and clap for our key-workers. Once the applause is over, I have the joy of chatting to my closest neighbours. 8.05pm Thursday evening has become a precious time. My neighbours have laughed and cried from their windows. I have laughed and cried from the pavement. The Holy Spirit has clearly gone ahead and is at work in people’s lives. As I wander back each week to my house, I wonder……’God what are you doing?’
Then I remember that I don’t need to know what God is doing – my job is to knead the dough and let God provide the increase. My job is to be the church and to let God be God.
I believe passionately in the priesthood of all believers. I also believe that every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It ‘blows my mind’ when I think about how the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you and me calling us to be the church, wherever we are. It should ‘blow your mind’ too! This is not just about church ministers, but about EVERY believer being filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit to be the church wherever they are. The sheer potential of the body of Christ as we are scattered across our villages, towns and cities is incredible!
I long that every believer would be equipped and released to be the church. I long that every disciple would know that the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in them!
I have a hope, not just that my baking will rise, but a much more important hope – that the church would recapture her passion for Jesus and would rise up and be the church…..kneading the dough, trusting God for the increase and ‘staying on mission’ – no matter what!