This past week, I have joined many other Christians in observing the Days of Unleavened Bread. The entire festival points us to the salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, He who can truly make us perfect and without sin. In the days leading up to this feast, we cleaned our home of baking soda, baking powder, yeast, and products containing them. During the Days of Unleavened Bread, we choose to abstain from these products as a reminder of our struggle to remove all sin from our lives. We also eat unleavened bread—which that is made without baking soda, baking powder, or yeast—which is symbolic of sincerity and truth.
When we think of bread that is made without anything to make it rise, it’s easy to think of a thin, tasteless, cracker, like a matzo. But as we who observe these days know, there are all kinds of ways to make unleavened breads and treats. One of my family’s favorites is pie: apple, cherry, blueberry…but especially apple. And as I prepared to make a pie for us to share, I started to think about the lessons we can learn from an unleavened pie crust.
The leaven isn’t really necessary. A homemade pie crust doesn’t need to be leavened (I am always surprised when I run across a recipe that calls for leavening, but they do exist). Pie crusts aren’t supposed to be fluffy, but rather crisp and delicate. In the same way, the sin we are to be putting out of our lives isn’t necessary for us—in fact, it’s the opposite of what we are to be. We are called to fill our lives with the best ingredients: ingredients that help us to live out our faith. The sins we struggle to put out of our lives are unhelpful and get in the way of what we are supposed to do.
The lack of leaven doesn’t mean a lack of taste. When you think of a good pie, you don’t think of something bland or tasteless. You think of flavor, of texture, and maybe even of celebration: something special. “Unleavened” doesn’t automatically mean “unpleasant”. Likewise, we can live lives that are abundant, joyful, and filled with delight. That doesn’t mean we’ll walk a path with no obstacles, but it does mean we don’t need to go around looking mournful and downhearted. Putting sin out allows us plenty of room for the right kind of habits and activities.
The crust isn’t the main thing. As delightful a thing as an apple pie is, the crust is usually not the star of the show. In truly unleavened fashion, the crust is expected to play a supporting role. It doesn’t draw attention to itself with bold flavor or excessive decoration: its purpose is to showcase the contents of the pie. We, also, are expected to practice humility. Our job isn’t to parade ourselves in some show of greatness; instead, we are to be a showcase of Christ within us.
As the Days of Unleavened Bread come to a close, I hope we can all take with us the lessons we have learned in this special season and put them to work in our lives. And perhaps, the next time we take a bite of pie, we can be reminded of the some of the lessons of being unleavened.