Baking Bread and the Body of Christ

David Russell Mosley

 

30 October 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

Today I want to talk to you about something very theological; something so very theological that it often goes right over our heads. Today, I want to talk to you about baking bread.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the River Cottage Fruit-share project. In that post I focused on the necessity of having a better connection with where our food comes from because this is a better connection with Creation, of which we are a part. Baking bread, in some ways, takes this a step further. While currently I do not bake bread from wheat I’ve grown and ground myself (nor always from organic or locally sourced wheat, though I hope to someday), baking bread is perhaps an essential part of the Christian life.

Bread makes up half of one of the most important events in Christianity. It represents the oneness (as well as diversity) of the Church, which is also to say it represents and becomes for us the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Now, whatever theology of the Eucharist to which you ascribe––I’m personally somewhere between consubstantiation and transubstantiation (that is, I believe Christ is really present, but don’t want to get enmeshed in talking about how)––the Bread still stands for the body of Christ. This means, to some extent, every loaf of bread participates in the Eucharistic bread. Every loaf of bread we eat should remind us of the Loaf in the Lord’s Supper (just as every glass of wine we drink participates in the Cup of the Blood of Christ). To this end, then, baking bread can remind us of the Eucharist which is our thanksgiving for the body and blood of Christ.

Baking bread is a relatively cheap and easy enterprise. The recipe I’m going to give you is from James Morton’s book Brilliant Bread. 17612890 This is a great recipe for beginners, such as myself, and results is delicious and healthy bread. This is just a plain white loaf, so it could be a bit healthier, but believe me, it is infinitely better for you than most store-bought sliced loaves.

Bake Time: 3-3 ½ hours; Time in Kitchen 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients:
500g Strong White Flour (Bread flour)
10g of Salt
7g or 1 sachet of yeast
350g (a little over 11 ounces) of tepid water

In a large bowl add your dry ingredients. Morton recommends rubbing in your salt on one side and your yeast on the other as yeast deactivates salt.

Then add your water and mix until a cohesive dough is formed. I recommend holding on to the bowl with one hand and mixing with the other. It goes quickly and leaves you a clean hand.

Cover with a damp tea towel and rest for 30-40 minutes.

After its rested, wet the fingers of one hand and slide them between the bowl and the dough. Take a portion of the dough and fold it back in on itself. Turn slightly and continue this until you’ve knocked all the air out.

Cover with a damp tea towel and rest for a full hour or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface turn out your dough to begin shaping. Begin by pressing your hand firmly on half the dough while stretching the other half out with the other hand and then folding it back in on it self. Turn slightly and continue until the dough feels tighter. Then turn the dough over and begin shaping into a ball. Do this by cupping each hand and bringing them together under your loaf turning slightly. This helps remove the seam on the bottom. Do this until the seam is gone and the dough is in a nice ball.

Put the dough on a well floured surface to rest for an hour. Also, using a serrated knife or razor blade make a few deep slashes in the bread to allow to expand while baking. During this time prep your oven. Put a baking sheet or rock in the oven and make sure your bread will have plenty of room to rise.

At about forty minutes into your dough’s final rest, pre-heat your oven and baking sheet to 210˚C.

After the oven has had about 20 minutes to pre-heat, put in your dough to bake for about forty minutes or until a nice golden brown.

Once its done, take your loaf out of the oven and let cool before digging in.

IMG_0793

A whole-meal bread I made last week.

And now you have a perfectly good loaf of bread. I find a loaf lasts my wife and I around 4-7 days. The flour costs around 80 pence and, if you just make plain white bread with it, should get you three loaves (considerably cheaper than store-bought). All you need is a few cheap ingredients, and about 3 hours at home (not all of which must be spent in the kitchen) in order to make your own loaf. Give it a try, and reflect on the one Loaf that is, for us, the body of Christ.

 

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

 

A Life Update: Ordination News, Thesis Update, and Babies

David Russell Mosley

 

22 October 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

I thought it was necessary to do another life update as we’ve announced a few things recently and there are a few others I simply haven’t written about.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Lauren and I are now in the midst of the discernment process for me to be ordained in the Church of England. This past Monday we had our first meeting with the DDO (the Diocesan Director of Ordinands). She was absolutely lovely, and it went really well so far as I can tell. She simply wanted to get to know Lauren and I and understand why we think this is the direction God is calling us. We’ll have a few more meetings and hopefully get me into a Diocesan Panel by February so I can go on to a Bishop’s Advisory Panel in time to get the funding necessary to begin the training in September of 2014. If this is where God’s calling us, it’s all going to happen rather quickly. This is both terrifying and exciting.  One of the things Sue did mention is me doing a placement (following a vicar around for a little while) in order to ensure I know what various congregations are like in the Church of England. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this at the parish church in Beeston since Lauren and I don’t drive. Prayers on this front are most definitely appreciated.

One of the other major things we have going on this academic year is, of course, my thesis. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but this will the last year of my PhD. I am now in what is called the write up or Thesis Pending Period. Essentially what this means is I get fewer meetings with my supervisors, and have to be done by the end of next September (that’s right the same one I’d start my training in if all goes towards ordination), or else! I have half of my thesis written and plan to have the other half done by no later than May so I can spend the summer editing and getting it ready for submission. Prayers are also certainly appreciated on this front as well.

The final, and perhaps biggest news we have, as well as another reason for me needing to have the thesis written by May, is that Lauren and I are pregnant. Yes, technically she’s the only one who is actually growing a human child, but as its my child too, and we’re one flesh, I think I can say that we are pregnant.Image We are absolutely ecstatic about this! Having kids has been one of our biggest dreams since before we even got married. I’m sure there will be many more baby posts to come in the future, but for now I will say this: Lauren is doing well; we’re intentionally not finding out the gender; and our little one is due on 24 May 2014 (our sixth anniversary).

These are all the main things going on in right now in the Mosley Family (UK). Otherwise life is going on as usual. We’re getting stuck-in as the British would say, in our new church, and finally making some British friends. I hope you all are well. Look out for my next posts on Creation, food, and more.

 

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

River Cottage, Fruit Share, and the Importance of Our Relationship to Creation

David Russell Mosley

19 October 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

One of the many things about which I am really quite passionate is food. Specifically locally grown and reared food. I have to admit upfront, that I still don’t do enough considering my feelings on the subject, but I am trying.

Today we find ourselves in a culture of prepackaged, pre-cooked, reheated, food. We have no idea from whence it comes, who grew it (or reared it in the case of meat). Animals are being filled with steroids and cooped up in spaces far too small for a quality of life that is necessary for truly excellent tasting meat; seeds are being genetically modified and farmers are being sued for trying to use their own harvested, non-modified seeds (under the pretension that some of them might be over the patented, modified variety due to geographic proximity to modified crops). Even churches are giving mostly non-perishable food items in their food banks because its cheap and many people wouldn’t know what to do with fresh vegetables or fruit if you gave them to them.

Our Veg Patch in Early Spring (or Ver)

Our Veg Patch in Early Spring (or Ver)

There are probably a lot of ways to fix these problems. Stricter governmental regulations over food; buying more from local farms (the creation of more family or town owned farms); growing your own food; etc. As Christians, it is our duty to care for Creation, it is, after all, our sister. And I think churches everywhere should doing everything they can to ensure people are cooking and eating food that is good and wholesome for them. One of the ways to do this, however, is to start with the children and get them involved.

On that front, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage has begun a new project called Fruit Share. Several years ago, Hugh began a project called Land Share, connecting people who wanted to grow their own food with people who had land to spare (here in the UK that is). This new project, Fruit Share, has me very excited, albeit unable to do much about aside from get the word out about it. Fruit Share is program to give free fruit trees to British schools to begin small orchards so they can begin supplying their kitchens with fresh fruit. The kids get to help plant and care for the trees, and then enjoy their bounty. I currently have no children in school nor do I work at one, but I want to encourage everyone who does (teachers, parents, School Governors, etc.) to check out the Fruit Share project and sign up their schools. In the not too distant future I hope to do some more posts on the theological implications of growing food and buying and eating locally, but for now I just want this post to be an encouragement to join in the Fruit Share project. I talk all the time about the enchantment of Creation, well Creation can seem disenchanted if we don’t have a better relationship to it, if all we do is rape the land for industrial purposes. Let’s bring the Kingdom of God (insofar as we can this side of the resurrection) to Creation which is groaning for its own redemption.

Here is the link for the Fruit Share website as well as a brief video about it put out by the River Cottage team:

Fruit Share Website

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

A Life of Rhythm: The Church Calendar and the Divine Hours

David Russell Mosley

5 October 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Students,

Welcome, first and foremost, to my blog. I asked Pete a few days ago if it was alright to do a quick response to what we heard from Steve on Tuesday. He said yes, so now I’m burdening you with my thoughts. Please, take them for what they are, my personal, albeit reasoned and studied, thoughts.

As Steve so rightly taught, it is essential to have rhythm in life. Just like the vine in John 15, we cannot, yet, always be in fruit. Still, we may be left wondering how we develop a rhythm, what a good rhythm could look like that includes both times of action and times of rest and yet always fits under the umbrella of abiding with Christ. There is one way, a rather excellent one, I think of having intentional rhythm in your life that has come down to us from Christians in centuries past; it is called liturgy. Specifically, I am talking about the liturgy of the year, also known as the Church Calendar, and the liturgy of the day, otherwise known as the Divine Office or Divine Hours. Being more intentional about including these two aspects of the Christian Tradition can help you live your Christian faith more intentionally and with a sense of rhythm.

If you want, you can look back through some of my older posts on the various aspects of the Church Calendar. Right now, I just want to encourage you to start thinking of your year in these terms. The Christian year begins with Advent (usually late November or early December). This year Advent begins on the first of December. And goes until Christmas Eve Advent is a time of waiting. We remember the waiting the world did for the first coming of Christ, and yet we also recognise that we are waiting for the return of Christ. Advent is often a time of fasting From Advent we move to Christmas, which begins on Christmas Eve and continues until the the eve of Epiphany on January fifth. Christmas, of course, is the time where we celebrate the coming of God into the world in human flesh. From Christmas we move to Epiphany (6 January to the 1 February). Epiphany celebrates the life of Christ, especially his baptism. After Epiphany is the feast of Candlemas celebrating the presentation of Christ at the temple by his parents. Starting on February third, then, we enter Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time reminds us that God is also present in the everyday (where we spend most of our lives) as well as the special events. Ordinary time continues until Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014). Ash Wednesday kicks off the second main time of fasting called Lent. During Lent we remember that Christ died for our sins, we confess our sins and remind ourselves why we needed a saviour (on a side note, people often fast or give something up during Lent. It is important to remember that for Christians Sundays are always Feast Days, because we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This means we cease fasting for every Sunday in Lent). Lent goes until Holy Week, which is the Week before Easter. During this time we remember the events that led up to and include the Crucifixion of Christ). Easter begins Saturday evening and goes until Pentecost fifty days later. Pentecost is a one off celebration to remind us that Christ has given us the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost is another set of Ordinary Time until the year begins again with Advent.

The Christian Year, in my opinion, offers perhaps the best way to live the year out rhythmically. It allows us to both feast and fast with purpose. One way to make sure you pay attention to the Church Year is to take part in the Divine Hours.

My prayer station at home.

My prayer station at home.

The Divine Hours, or Divine Office, is a series of daily times of prayer. Most monks and nuns use some form of these prayers every day. Here in the Church of England with Common Worship  we have provided for us Morning Prayer, Prayer During the Day, and Evening Prayer. Common Worship has set readings and prayers for each of the seasons so we can be more aware of what season we are in. You can find all this for free on the Church of England’s website here: Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in Ordinary Time, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in Seasonal Time, Prayer During the Day Ordinary Time, Prayer During the Day Seasonal Time. I myself say Morning Prayer at 6, Prayer During the Day at or around Noon, and Evening Prayer at about 5. Having set times of prayer helps us organise our days around God and worshipping him (which is what liturgy means, worship), rather than organising our days around work or television or the things of the world. These prayers are set up to be used corporately, but can be done on your own as well. Morning and Evening prayer can also be accompanied by Scripture readings from the Lectionary which you can find here (note: we’re in year C until Advent when we switch to year A). Morning and Evening prayer take about 15-20 minutes and Prayer During the Day takes about 10-12 minutes.

Well, this has gotten too long as it is and so I will bring it to a close. Nevertheless, allow me to encourage you once more to consider using the Church Calendar and the Divine Hours to help you find more rhythm in life. They have been immensely helpful to me. This is, of course, not suitable for everyone and there are many ways to introduce more rhythm into your life, but this is the way I have found most useful and it is also a very traditional way to do so.

See you all on Tuesday.

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley