33 He told them another parable: “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.”
– Matthew 13:33, NRSV
There’s an asterisk in the parable. Jesus didn’t put it there, of course. Neither did the gospel writer. The asterisk is a more recent addition, placed by modern translators seeking to make sense of an ancient text. It’s a signal: The Greek doesn’t totally make sense here. In this parable, the Greek word most often rendered as “mixed in” is actually better translated as “hid.” The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour. But in modern English, we don’t talk that way. In modern English, we don’t say that people “hide” yeast in flour. We say that they “mix” it. So the translators use some latitude, make a choice, and leave us a note attached to an asterisk.
I’m glad they leave us the note. Sure, the parable is more readable with the word “mixed”… but the asterisk reminds us that the work of the kingdom is often hidden work, in the dough and behind the scenes. The asterisk reminds us to pay attention to the somewhat hidden, often overlooked, behind-the-scenes kingdom moments in our midst.
I’m in awe of the sheer volume of behind-the-scenes kingdom moments here at Wesley, especially in the season of covid-tide:
- Behind the scenes, some generous souls drop off donations of food at the front door of the church, while others drop by later in the week to pick up the bags and deliver the bounty to the food pantry.
- Behind the scenes, gardeners pull weeds and harvest vegetables for soup kitchens, watering their own plots and then watering everyone else’s, too.
- Behind the scenes, volunteers test new technology ahead of the worship service, compile videos for our preschool or holiday or graduation celebrations, send out countless church-wide emails, update our church office software, create socially-distant musical recordings, and make improvements to our church website.
- Behind the scenes, volunteers make phone calls to check in on church members’ well-being or to thank them for their generosity.
- Behind the scenes, volunteers check the lights and spray for wasps and mow the grass.
- Behind the scenes, compassionate souls send cards and sermons to those who can’t access our services online.
- Behind the scenes, volunteers prepare “Virtual VBS bags” for the kiddos of Wesley while youth leaders meet (via Zoom) to plan and pray for our youth.
- Behind the scenes, volunteers check the mail, open the envelopes, record the gifts, and sign the checks.
- Behind the scenes, musicians make selections and practice the music and turn rehearsal time into devotional time, connection time, virtual fellowship time.
- Behind the scenes, organizers order backpack supplies and create online fundraisers and re-imagine an entire ministry.
- Behind the scenes, leaders meet to plan and pray and ponder what comes next.
And that’s just the stuff the pastor has heard about!
The kingdom gets its foothold in the things that happen out of sight and behind the scenes. The kingdom of heaven is like people blessing people, often under the radar. The kingdom is like yeast in flour and an asterisk on a page.
Keep on giving God’s kingdom that foothold, people of Wesley Church… and as you do, remember:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
Want to know more?
- Learn about our church and its ministries: https://wesleychurch.com/
- Make a gift to support our mission: https://wesleychurch.com/giving-2/
- View our recent messages: https://wesleychurch.com/sermon-message-on-video/
- View previous devotionals: https://wesleychurch.com/pastor-candys-devotionals-2/