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Nehemiah 4:1-23

11 (17) ….as they continued building the wall. Those who carried loads held their loads with one hand and carried a weapon in the other.

Burden in one hand, weapon in the other. I’m not sure why that phrase rose above the others, but it did.

Revelation 7:9-17

9 After this, I looked; and there before me was a huge crowd, too large for anyone to count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.

 {14 “….These are the people who have come out of the Great Persecution (Ordeal).”}

This one is easy. EVERY nation, tribe, people and language! Every last stinkin’ one!

Matthew 13:31-35

(33)…“The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.”

Waited. Waiting. You can’t bake it until it rises. One of the translations said “a large amount” of flour; another said “dozens of loaves.” You have to wait quite a while for that much dough to rise. Another part of this gospel says that Jesus fulfilled what the prophets said, that what was hidden from the first day of the world would be brought into the open.

Bringing it together:

Hidden, hiding. The Gospel says you have to wait until what’s hidden manifests itself. Jesus’s listeners heard the stories he told as the fulfillment of the prophets, the event that they had been waiting for. Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven can’t be separated from what it’s mixed in with. You just have to wait. I think Jesus intended for the waiting to be the whole point. So, it all comes back around to paying attention.

“Waiting” has two meanings. One meaning implies the advent of something expected, like standing in line at the theater ticket window, but the other has the connotation of attentive service, as in “waiting on” someone. The waiter doesn’t know what will be needed, or what service they might be asked to perform, so they wait nearby and make themselves available. I think that the action of waiting for what is hidden to be revealed is more like the waiter than the person standing in line. It’s also less linear, in terms of time passing. Waiting in line produces boredom and distraction, waiting for a singular event to take place, for the line to move, the tickets to be handed over, for the show to begin. Waiting for the hidden to reveal itself is more like watching a butterfly emerge from the cocoon, dry its wings and then fly away. Or like waiting at dusk at the edge of the forest for the deer to come out and feed. Or like sitting at the bedside of a sick friend, so that when they wake they won’t be alone. Or like sitting in the dark watching the sky lighten in the east and the clouds turn colors as the sun begins to rise. There isn’t any preconception about when the hidden thing will reveal itself, it could happen anytime. In fact, most of the time it’s happening continuously.

What is hidden is always revealing itself, a bit at a time. So, the realm of God is always revealing itself, a bit at a time.

People are always mixing that yeast into the life of the world, even if they have to do it with one hand while they carry their weapons in the other.

(I thought it might be useful to explain that when Jesus talks about “yeast” he isn’t talking about the freeze-dried kind that comes in those little red and white packages. In his day, the only kind of bread they had was sourdough. So, the baker sets aside some of the risen bread, adds maybe a little honey or fruit juice to it with some water, and lets it sit overnight. It gets all bubbly and frothy, and that sour-smelling, fermenting mixture is called the ‘bread-mother’. All of the bread-mother then gets added to dry flour, with some salt and a little more water, and made into a dough which then rises overnight in its turn and gets made into loaves and baked. But, right before it’s baked, the baker takes out some of the risen dough, adds a little honey or fruit juice and some water, mixes it all together and then lets it ferment overnight again. You can see that this procedure won’t work unless all the processes are happening together. The baker has to have leavened loaves rising at the same time as her refreshed bread-mother is fermenting for the next day’s loaves, as well as having loaves baking in the oven. It all happens at once. It just occurred to me that this could be another metaphor for the Trinity…..bread-mother; leavened loaves rising; fresh-baked bread that is ready to eat.)

We are always mixing in that bread-mother and waiting for the bread to rise; we are always kneading and baking those loaves, and we are always taking those loaves out of the oven, all hot and fresh, and sharing them with each other. With butter and honey and jam, if we are lucky. Oh yeah, and “each other” means “EVERY nation, tribe, people and language!” 

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