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Monday, 5 September 2016

Yeast and Faith

Whenever I bake bread (rarely), I always have trouble getting the dough to rise, which I blame on the frigid nature of our old granite house. I do everything I can to raise the ambient temperature but am usually disappointed that it takes at least two or three times as long as it should to rise about half as high as it should. (Maybe I need to invest in a bread-maker.)

Yeast requires a certain environment in which to react and begin to work on the dough.

I was asked recently what I thought of loud, sometimes repetitive worship music in a service. I think there would have been a time when I would have found it boring or tedious. But over the years, I have come to love the privacy this sort of corporate worship affords: I drop in and out of the written lyrics, communing privately with God and then rejoining the congregation. It can offer times of profound worship and a real sense of the presence of God. 

Stay with me here because all these thoughts will coalesce. 

 Jesus warned his followers to be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees... the sincere religious types who really knew their theology. We are products of the Enlightenment and the age of reason, and so we are encouraged to rely on our brains and to be suspicious of our heart intelligence. 

I read the other day that faith is the expectation that God is always good and he will work in every situation. 

Worship music, repetitive or not but certainly sung from the heart, is the warmth that gets the faith rising in my heart. It is from that position of faith that I expect to see God to act – to see miracles. 

My fear is that in churches which rely on prescribed worship where the theological accuracy of the lyrics is the measure of its relevance, we miss out on that mystical faith-raising element which then releases hope and expectations.

Jesus told the man with leprosy who wanted to be healed and couched his request in a weak ‘if you are willing...’, ‘I am willing!’ Worship is the yeast that helps me recognise who it is I am asking for help, and know that he is willing.

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