Matthew 13:33: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”(NLT)
I looked at the proposed lesson for my LITTLES and wondered what in the world I could do to teach this lesson in a way that would help them remember the gist of the lesson. There were two parts to the scriptural background; the verse about the yeast, and also the two preceding verses about the mustard seed. The word pictures and the activities that were suggested were good activities, but how do I use up a whole class period discussing “The Kingdom of Heaven” with children this young?
And just what is the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives, particularly as it would relate to these verses? A small seed, planted, growing into a great bush? Or yeast, leavening a large measure of flour, completely losing its identity as it bonds with the other ingredients, yet it affects the whole batch of dough, and effects change in unmistakeable, cognitive ways. What does this mean to me, for Heaven’s Sake? And how can I make it real for my LITTLES. I mean, they totally missed the lesson about the sparrows, and this is far more obscure than that.
So I thought and thought, and finally decided to bake some bread with them. From scratch. I would ask them what they thought the Kingdom of Heaven was, and we would talk about what it means to do things the way Jesus would do them, and how when we are kind and share and obey and tell the truth, how that “grows” inside our hearts and makes us happy. I would ask them how it made them feel when other people were kind to them, and shared with them. What it looked like when other children were disobedient or told lies or were mean, and whether that made them want to be their friends. And we would bake bread and this time, I would constantly talk about the Kingdom of Heaven and what it means, and how it is like the yeast. And maybe, this time, they would remember.
So we started out class period by meeting in the basement, and donning our aprons.
We had two extra children, but that was just fine. And everyone entered into the discussion before getting to the actual mixing of the ingredients. But once we got started, there was no turning back!
Most of the ingredients, I had pre-measured, so they each got a chance to add something. Here, we are softening the yeast in warm water.
Here Victoria stirs the yeast while we get ready to put the sugar in.
Judah dumps in the salt.
The boys watch the yeast to see if it’s growing. They get a good understanding of what it smells like, too. (I don’t think anyone spit, coughed or sneezed in it, but I can’t prove it. I can say with a great deal of confidence that it did get breathed on!)
And then we stirred . . .
and stirred . . .
The yeast had been rising all this time, and now it was time to add it to our bowl.
Then it was time to talk about what that yeast was going to do to that bowl of dough.
(And they all listened carefully!)
And then it was time to add more flour and stir some more!
Then we finally got it pour out onto the table
. . . and every child got a chance to work the dough. For videos of each child, go to https://www.facebook.com/maryann.yutzy and scroll down. This was one of the best parts of the whole morning!
And then it was into the pans to rise. Of course we had to check on the progress! Sure enough, the dough was rising!
And then it was into the oven: Whew! That’s HOT! But if you put your little hand on the outside of the oven after it was shut, it wasn’t hot at all. That’s pretty exciting!
And then they waited and waited, and finally, the bread was brown enough and we took it out of the oven.
Oh, so exciting! They each got to choose a loaf that was “theirs” and then they buttered the tops and lined up so protectively by the one that was “theirs.”
By that time we had survived the singing of the “blessing song,” when we sang to each child and during which I put my hands on each head when we say their name. It was when I was doing that, that we found a tick on one of the children’s heads. Well, that caused it’s own excitement while Mom and a nurse and eventually Dad came to assist in the removal. This tamed the excitement somewhat, and eventually, long past the ringing of the bell marking the end of Sunday School, we talked one more time about how the Kingdom of Heaven was like a small amount of yeast that we put into a measure of flour (and salt and sugar and shortening and milk) that made the dough grow and grow until it was enough for nine loaves of bread. We stood together on the tile floor in the Gathering Place of Laws Mennonite Church and gave thanks.
“For all good gifts, thy Grace imparts–
We thank thee, LORD, with humble hearts!”
After the church service, they came to claim their loaves, and to gather bread for giving away and thus ended another morning of teaching my LITTLES about The Kingdom of Heaven!
Will they remember? I don’t know for sure, but I think they just might!
If not now, then maybe someday.
And I pray God that it might be so!
Photo Credits: Christina Yutzy Bontrager