Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our Daily Bread

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’   Matthew 22:34-40

I was coming home to Georgia from my parent’s house in Alabama when I got my first real glimpse of tornado destruction.  In Rainsville, Alabama – just north of Fort Payne – the twister had left clear marks where it had touched down.   Shattered buildings would lie next to standing ones.  Rooms were laid open, the remaining half looking for all the world as if someone could still live there and walk in at any moment.  One lovely house was spared, though a large tree lay uprooted, parallel to the front door and only a few feet away.  Other houses were not so fortunate.  The tornado had bobbed along taking some property, leaving others.  I got a first-hand view of the destruction of such storms, as well as their caprice. 

Tornadoes, along with all the storms that we encounter, raise questions for Christians.  How can such things happen?  Why do they happen?  How can we live with God in the face of such uncertainty?  We can answer these questions easily as we sit comfortably within four standing walls.  But when our lives are thrown horribly out of whack, the questions become far more vivid and real.  They are in our face and in our mouths, and we demand answers.  We Christians rail against the uncertainty we must live with, and the chance of which we are victim.

But live with it we must.  No amount of theology will change it.  We can only take action in response.  We can remain who we are called to be, whether circumstances are favorable or not.  In the North Georgia Conference (of the United Methodist Church), efforts are organized and ongoing to match volunteers and donations with the needs that exist.  Offerings are being taken, teams and individuals are drawing together to give what they can of their time and energy.  If you are interested in donating or volunteering, you can learn more by clicking here.

Our scripture plainly tells us that this is who we are.  This is our daily bread:  to uphold one another.  To comfort and look out for one another.  To make sure everyone has enough. 

I thought of this as I made bread for my mom and dad.  I had been visiting with them before my eye-opening drive through the wreckage.  They were dealing with their own injuries and surgeries, and I was there to lend a hand.  The bread came from our family cookbook.  It is a delicious recipe, but the crust was very hard when I made it.  I didn’t have a mixer, but did it by hand which may well have had an effect on the texture.  We ate it with both potato soup and butternut squash and carrot soup.  A very good meal.

May you both receive and offer bread this day.  In the breaking of bread, may you see the living Christ.

Bread Dough
2 T. yeast                                             2 c. hot tap water
1 t. sugar                                              1 T. salt
5-6 c. plain (unbleached) flour    fat, opt*

*You can add a stick of margarine or some oil, but I usually don’t add any at all.  You will need more flour then. 

All the measurements are approximate.  The yeast equals about 2 packages.  I think.  I get mine from Sam’s in one pound bags.  Put yeast, sugar, and salt in the bottom of a mixer bowl.  Add the hot tap water.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  If it begins to look foamy it is good yeast.  Add 4 cups of flour and using the dough hooks mix on low until flour is just mixed.  Scrape flour off the sides with a spatula.  You can then turn the mixer up to medium to better mix the dough.  Turn it down when dough is well mixed and add more flour a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add flour and mix until you can just touch the dough and it doesn’t stick much to your fingers.  Remove bowl.  Spray top with oil and place in a warm area.  Cover with plastic wrap to keep the top from getting crusty, although this won’t hurt it.  Let it rise for an hour or two, punch the dough down if it gets too high.  I use this for making pizza, or flatbread, and sometimes I roll it out and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top, then roll it up like a jelly roll to make a cinnamon bread loaf.  Let rise the finished product until double.  Bake at 350o until brown. 

Flat bread:  Divide dough into four or five sections.  On a floured surface roll each piece of dough out thin until it just fits inside a large cookie sheet.  Place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil.  Top with thin slices of tomato, shredded basil leaves (or 1 ½ t. dried basil), thin slivers of onion, and top with shredded Parmesan.  Bake at 350o (more or less) until is brown and crisp.  Break into pieces and serve warm.  Instead of tomato and basil, spread Vidalia onion vinaigrette on top then add thin slivers of onion and some Parmesan.  This makes a neat bread to serve instead of rolls or biscuits. – Diane Taylor

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