Tuesday (December 21, 2021)

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…”  Micah 5:2

 Even though I don’t have as much time for it as I used to, I love baking bread from scratch.  I also like eating it, of course… but the making is very nearly as good.

And I certainly don’t like baking bread because it is easy.  Among other things, you have to engage in a long, labor-intensive process called “kneading the dough,” which, as you know if you are a baker, means conscientiously taking the edge of the dough and folding it into the center… and then taking the edge and folding it into the center… and then taking the edge and folding it into the center.  Because it is only through the effort of repeatedly folding the fringe into the center that the power of the yeast is evenly distributed through the whole loaf.

It’s a lot of work, I can tell you.  So much so that it can sometimes seem like it would be more efficient to just cut the fringes off and stay with the center that you already have.  The only problem with that strategy is that it is such a waste… such a waste of the potential of the part of the dough that is still waiting for a chance to touch the power of the yeast at the center.

Actually, now that I think of it, some of you may know first-hand the tragedy of being part of the fringe that is cut off and thrown away.  Perhaps you yourself have had some experience of being left out on the margins, totally out of touch with life at the center…

The prophet Micah suggests that perhaps even the village of Bethlehem might have known the feeling of being out there on the fringe, so little among the clans of Judah.  But as we know, it was just a matter of time before the hand of the Almighty would fold this sleepy village on the fringe into the very center of the master plan for redeeming creation.

And so for us, especially in those times when we feel a bit left out, invisible, or marginalized, there is a promise from the prophet, that the God at the center of it all wastes no one, forgets no one, overlooks no one, but reaches all the way out there to the fringe every single day to enfold and raise up that precious, irreplaceable margin.

Pastor Wayne Miller

Stir up your power, O God, and come.  Come to us now in our own experiences of feeling forgotten, left out, or marginalized.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that ours may be the hands to reach out to those on the edge and fold them gently back into the gift of communion with you.  Amen