“Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him. . . .”
— 1 John 3:2
When God led his people out of slavery in Egypt, he instructed them to make bread without yeast. God was coming soon to rescue them, he said, and there wouldn’t be time to wait around for the bread to rise. Further, they needed simple, compact bread for the journey. Today some churches use unleavened bread at the Lord’s Supper to symbolize that they too are people on a journey as they follow God to serve him in this world.
On the other hand, some churches choose to emphasize hope in God’s coming kingdom, in which we are promised an abundance of good things, symbolized by the richest of foods and the finest of wines (Isaiah 25:6-9). So they use bread made with yeast, risen and baked just right, to reflect that even in our broken world today we can experience and even taste a bit of the new world that Christ will bring when he comes again.
Theologians sometimes talk about living in the “now, and not yet.” Christ has come to defeat sin, death, and evil once for all. And yet we wait for him to complete the job. So whether we use leavened or unleavened bread—both can help us reflect on our place in God’s great plans for the world.
Lord, living in the time between your first and second comings can be uncomfortable. We rejoice in your victory, but we long for you to fulfill it completely. Till then, we thank you for food to sustain us. Amen.