Advent 1

Cooking Through the Christian Year


Browne, Hablot Knight. “Boy Baking Bread.” Watercolor, with touches of blue and pink gouache, heightened with white gouache, over graphite, on cream wove card. England, 1835–1882. 18.2 × 14 cm (7 3/16 × 5 9/16 in.). Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Art Institute of Chicago, Reference Number 1940.894.

1st Sunday of Advent

The Christian Year begins at the end. Maybe it is good to have the end in mind when we start anything new. The Christian calendar begins with longing for the coming of Christ. We long for Christ to come in fullness and bring healing to all of the world’s brokenness. We long for all of creation to finally find its eternal purpose and promise in God.

The hymns during the beginning of Advent express hope for the future and help us practice active waiting. One of the great hymns is Charles Wesley’s “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”:

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

It is this joyful longing that marks all of Advent.

The only logical place to begin this culinary journey through holy time is with bread. Our favorite is the most basic recipe: water, flour, yeast, and salt. From these few ingredients comes the most aromatic and amazing French bread. There is something almost mystical about how yeast activates these humble ingredients into a food that is the basis of human civilization. Bread is humble, but it is also holy.

Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body broken for you.” Since those days, disciples of Jesus from all times and places have seen sharing bread as a way of sharing Christ. Bread shared among friends is always a holy experience, and Christ is never far away.

Bread is the perfect food for Advent because of its transformative nature. What comes out of the process is nothing like what goes into it. The fermentation process causes an almost mystical transformation to the dough. The most important part of the recipe is not completed by the baker, but by an unseen and mysterious process. It is no wonder that Jesus said in Matthew 13 that the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman secretly hides in dough—just a little leavens the whole loaf.

As we make bread throughout the year, and you will note that many of the ways Christians of old commemorated holy days was by baking special breads, let each recipe be a sign that even though we do our part, we add our ingredients, but it is God who does all the real work. It is God who will bring healing to our world. There is holy leaven hidden all over the world, and Christ will come, and the whole cosmos will rise in mystical overabundance.

Recipe Coming Soon