The Yeast is in the Dough
Jean Vanier is the founder of the L’Arche homes, where persons with developmental disabilities live in community with those of us who are disabled in other ways. Vanier’s book “Community and Growth” is one of the wisest and most profound meditations upon authentic life in community that has ever been written. “Community and Growth” offers countless lesson to rural church leaders, more of which will be shared in this space.
At one point in the book Vanier shares the following quotation from a letter written by Little Sister Madeleine, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus:
“Do not feel obliged, in order to protect your religious dignity and your intimacy with God against exterior dangers, to put up barriers between the lay world and yourself. Don’t put yourself on the fringe of human society . . .
Like Jesus, become part of that humanity. Penetrate deeply into and sanctify your environment by the conformity of your life, by your friendship; by your love, by your life totally given to the service of others, like Jesus, by a life so mixed in with everyone else’s that you may be one with them, wanting only to be in their midst like yeast that loses itself in the dough in order to make it rise.”
On Christmas we celebrate and marvel in wonder at the beautiful mystery of the incarnation. For us and for our salvation, God did not remain high and aloof on a heavenly throne, but instead “took flesh.”
The Divine tiptoed down into the world and, in a kind of limbo of love (How low could he go?), descended lower and lower and lower until finally he became a helpless infant born in a barn and mewling in a manger.
Heaven immersed itself in earth, that earth might be suffused with heaven.
The yeast lost itself in the dough in order to make it rise.
As those who adore this baby, may we remove the false barriers of superiority that we set up between the world, our people, and ourselves.
May we forsake the aloof high thrones of our churches and inhabit the barns instead.
May we dare to take flesh and sanctify our environment by entering deeply into its life.
How low can you go?
In the spirit of Christmas,