A few weeks ago, my 4-year-old granddaughter announced that she would like to make hot cross buns (thanks to a Cocomelon video of the song which sees a family baking…) I gathered the ingredients required and we set out one Saturday morning to make them.

I soon discovered two things:

  1. the ‘Blue Peter’ quality of videos (‘here’s one I prepared earlier’) may add viewing quality to videos (real life is too slow, isn’t it? – making these buns was like watching the proverbial paint dry!) but bears little resemblance to real life

  2. the amazing properties of yeast

In the recipe, we had to assemble various ingredients and mix together with yeast, covering and leaving the mix to ‘prove’ for an hour. Off we went to do something else, returning to find the mixture had doubled in size in our absence and was threatening to overflow the bowl! We added mixed fruit and spices and did the same again. At this point, my granddaughter lost interest in the whole proceedings. Used to baking buns which cook in 20 minutes, she was by now thoroughly disillusioned with hot cross buns.

I, on the other hand, was fascinated. I returned an hour later, and the mixture had again doubled in size. More things added; the procedure was again repeated with the same results. Yeast was working its magic. As Jesus said, ‘the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.’ (Matt 13:33)

When we eventually got to eat the hot cross buns over 4 hours later, I had seen with my own eyes how a little yeast (a 7g sachet) had affected a large mix (hundreds of grammes of flour!) I had a new appreciation of why the Israelites had to bake unleavened bread at Passover (they would never have left Egypt if they had been waiting for the bread to rise!) and a new understanding of the many New Testament references to yeast and how something small can have a disproportionately large effect on something much bigger (this can, of course, be both a positive or negative effect, depending on the active ingredient…)

Most of all, I had a glimpse into the nature of faith. Jesus said that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Faith is like yeast in our prayers. It may look small and inconsequential, but it’s the ‘active ingredient’ for which God is searching. He is the One who answers prayer. He is the One who actually moves the mountains. But He is looking for our faith to work with. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ (Mark 11:24)

We often give up on prayer (like my granddaughter gave up on making hot cross buns) because it is time-consuming and, for the most part, quite boring. We may not ‘see’ results (answers to prayer) for some time. Compared to making buns, having to wait over four hours to eat hot cross buns seemed tedious and unrewarding. How often do we give up on prayer because the yeast of faith seems to yield slow results? We are impatient and want God to answer us ‘immediately – if not sooner!’

It’s easier and cheaper to buy hot cross buns than to bake them, but I am glad we did this, because I learnt so much from this baking experience about faith, patience, perseverance and the amazing ingredient of yeast!