How Pioneer Women Were Superheroes and Why I’m Baking Bread

I measure out the honey, heap it onto the tablespoon and let it drip slowly (as honey does) into the warm milk.

I could have grabbed a loaf off the grocery store shelf.  One loaf in a plastic bag, pre-sliced, and BAM–bread.

Not this time.

I pour in the bread flour.  One cup, now two, now three.

Why not just keep this simple?  Why not a box of crackers from the store?  A bag of pita bread?

I can’t explain it exactly, but I want to push elbow deep into the dough and knead it with my own two weak hands.

Surely I’ve been kneading for 10 minutes already.

It’s been two minutes exactly.

I think maybe my clock is broken.

Those pioneer women were superheroes, performing muscular feats of miraculous strength everyday at the kitchen table.  Maybe not leaping over skyscrapers and flying through space, but baking that daily loaf of bread, that takes power.bethmoore

I’m a modern-day wimp, so this pounding out the dough and stretching it and pounding some more is breathless work.

But it gives me time to think about this:

In the Tabernacle that Moses and the Israelites packed up and toted around the wilderness, God set His Presence right in the midst of His people.

He told them how to craft the Holy objects, the washbasin, the altar.

And He told them to place fresh bread on the table once a week, the shewbread.  But I read in my Bible its other name: “the bread of the Presence (Exodus 39:36).

The priests placed that bread on the table and there it sat every single day, not in the Most Holy Place where the High Priest entered once a year.

No, in the Holy Place, where the priests came in day after day to worship before God.

They walked in that sacred space and there was the bread.  There it was.  There it always was.

The moment it started to crackle with staleness, they brought in fresh, warm bread, baked new and placed it once again, a daily reminder of the daily presence of our God.

This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant (Leviticus 24:5-8 NIV)

I set my own bread dough on the oven to rise and sit down to my Bible study book and cup of tea.  That’s when I read it… Beth Moore tells me in her study on David:

The Hebrew term for presence is paneh, which means ‘countenance, presence, or face.’  The everlasting covenant symbolized by the bread of the Presence was a reminder of the pledge of God’s presence to His people.

That bread on that altar reminded God’s people that He was with them, yes, even there in the wilderness.

Even there with David as he ran from Saul, hiding in caves, feigning madness, running for his life.  He used that same Hebrew word–paneh—when he wrote:

For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help (Psalm 22:4 NIV).

My bread is in the oven now, giving the whole house a domestic smell, a fresh and warm aroma.

As it bakes, I consider Christ, because He’s the Bread of Life—God in the flesh, God in our midst, the touchable and tangible sign of God’s presence, the way we could see the face of God.

And Jesus, when He broke that bread and passed that cup around the Passover table, said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Every single time you eat the bread and you drink the cup, you remember Christ’s death.  But also His presence. 

“Christ is the bread of God’s presence to us” (Beth Moore, David).

Steven Furtick asks if this Communion we take could “also be an invitation to constant communion with Christ?  For each of us, everywhere, each day?”  (Crash the Chatterbox, p. 152).

So, if I’m feeling the staleness, the crusty or even moldy sign of old bread, then what I need to do is remember. 

I need to renew the Bread of His Presence right here in my life.

I slice off a piece of this warm, newly baked bread.

I pour out the grape juice in my tiny tea cup.

There I pray,  My Lord, I remember what You have done for me.  I am so thankful.  So unworthy.  Will You cleanse my heart?  Will You remind me of Your Presence here in my life?

Communion, this sacred act, becomes personal, a way for the holy to invade my daily: this home, this kitchen, this kitchen table.

God’s presence in this place.

How do you pray before taking Communion?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

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