Bread for Lammas

Greetings to you dear sisters and brothers in Christ. The month of August is upon us and in some quarters the very first day of this month is celebrated as Lammas Day (or Loaf Mass Day) – when a loaf baked with flour from newly harvested corn is brought into church and blessed. To be honest this tradition is not so commonplace as it used to be in the past. Lammas Day was one of the oldest points of contact between the agricultural world and the Church and the introduction of the Harvest Festival in the Victorian era has kind of replaced many of such agricultural celebrations.

A couple of weeks ago we were on holiday visiting old friends and neighbours in Yorkshire. One of the people we met up with was Anita (Our next door neighbour). Now Anita is a world class specialist in Food Education and has been instrumental in a number of national food education initiatives. One of her greatest challenges though was to teach me to make bread. Those of you who have any idea of my skills in the kitchen will realise just what a challenge this was! Anita persevered and I have to say I did find the hands on process of bread making very satisfying.

One of the fascinating things about it is the yeast: that unprepossessing lump of putty-like substance, or even more unlikely looking granules of dried yeast. Give yeast warmth and sugar and liquid, and miraculously it grows before your very eyes. And then it makes the dough rise and double its size. It seems irrepressible. Knock the dough down and leave it to its own devices, and it will double its size again. 

In the Middle Ages, one of the names for yeast was ‘goddisgoode’ – written as one word as though it were God’s email address. No one understood its chemistry and it was seen as gift from God. A pure gift. God is Good – that’s what lies at the heart of bread.

Jesus said that he is the Bread of Life, embodied for us now in the Eucharist. He offers himself as a gift that is fundamental to meeting our inner needs as bread is to meeting our physical needs. Through feeding on him, God gives us himself, and that is what we need.

When Jesus gave himself as bread, he said it was for the life of the world. At Lammastide let’s remember that when we come to the altar we share God’s life so that we can be the truth that God is good. Our task is to share the news of God’s goodness and invite others to share the Bread of Life too!

Fr Simon

One thought on “Bread for Lammas

  1. Bread making is so therapeutic. Kneading can help get rid of all sorts of problems especially any unhappy or bad feelings. The end result is positive when you take out of the oven a delicious smelling loaf of bread.
    ps: if you like a crusty loaf, put a shallow container of water under the tin.

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