Early in the morn, she prepares the dough for the evening festivities. I watch on, learning, waiting to assist where needed. Her cookbook lies open, pages smudged with flour and oil marking the recipe as a keepsake among the others. Tonight we will gather - brothers and sisters; family and friends - to feast and fellowship over pizza pie.
The dough doesn't have a lot of ingredients, but the way she works - art is being created. A small bowl holds the yeast, honey, and warm water while the mixer blade is combining the flour and salt. Next, the oil and water is added along with the yeast mixture and soon the blade is working, twisting and turning the sticky mixture into a ball of pizza dough. Perched on a stool, I am reminded how much my life resembles dough.
My life is made up of many ingredients. Some ingredients, like faith, are staples that I keep in my kitchen. Faith is the flour and combined with salt the Lord produces a seasoning in me to be his disciple, spreading his wisdom and grace to others. Yet, I'm human and I have a temper as warm as water but it is mixed with a heart as sweet as honey. I fall down slippery paths of oil but God adds my mistakes and my good deeds together, molding me into his image.
Once the dough is formed, the kneading begins. She takes the dough and works it between her hands and then divides the dough into four smaller balls. As the dough sits, the yeast produces a gas; causing the dough to rise and take shape.
The Lord kneads each one of us like the dough. He takes our circumstances and works them out; kneading the joys and hardships of life together, to create disciples that give glory to him. And, being a disciple, once our dough is kneaded, we create other disciples; all rising and taking shape together. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:17, "Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." Being the body of Christ, we all take communion giving thanks to be a community of believers.
Bread - pizza dough - is a simple commodity that symbolizes something incredibly great. To be broken and divided and rise up together - we are like the bread, transforming from a sticky mess into something delightfully yummy and filling. And, to do this in community - that is where the true joy lies.
See, Christ did not ask us to be solo followers. In Acts 1:8 he says that we will receive the power of the Holy Spirit; and we will be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Christ wants his followers to create community. Just as the disciples went into their communities of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria all those years ago, he is telling us that as modern-day Christians must share life together in our own communities of Dothan, Montgomery, Birmingham and to the ends of the earth.
To share Christ in community we must actually be in community. Living in community is not just about residing and working in a city; it's about surrounding yourself with the body of Christ. This begins in the local church but then the church must take it a step further and create community within a Christ-centered community. That is where the beauty of small groups begin.
Small groups connect congregations. Strangers become best friends; sharing the hurdles and joys of life together. Each person brings their own pizza dough recipe - their personal testimony of God kneading their sticky mess - and blesses the others. By sharing stories; a transformation happens in members' hearts where stereotypes are broken and members truly begin to see why Christ broke the bread at the last supper.
By the church committing to small groups, real community begins. When groups gather for study and discussion, they are adding the key ingredients of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese to the rolled out dough.
Then, the toppings are added. Small groups unite and broadens the members' tastebuds. Women that suffer from miscarriage might bond over pepperoni and husbands that struggle with finances relate over jalapeno peppers. The new couple in town might be the parmesan cheese to the oregano of another couple desperate for friends.
A small community of believers has the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to change churches and cities. Small groups commit to being more than themselves and lives are changed.[pullquote_right] Small groups commit to being more than themselves and lives are changed. [/pullquote_right]Small groups serve their community and the world - through packing Christmas boxes, raising funds for domestic adoption, supporting friends turned missionaries, celebrating marriages and babies, bringing meals to the sick, building houses, cleaning up schools, praying over loss and love, and the list goes on and on. Small groups spread Jesus' name in their cities, state, countries, and the world.
So many people walk into church not really knowing the person they sit beside on the pew each Sunday morning. We come, we sing, we listen, we leave. Yes, God speaks on Sunday mornings but he wants us to have people that we can talk about him with! He wants us to discuss the words spoken by our preacher and he wants us to be found sharing his good news with others. Sharing begins with small groups. God places people together in small groups to connect his church to greater serve the community. Just as we gather round the fire grill, waiting for the pizza to be fully cooked, so must the church gather in small groups to be in community.
Question: Are you involved in a small group at your church? If so, how has it transformed your life? If not, will you consider to commit to finding a group in the new year?
Till next time, let your light shine!
Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Dough and Toppings Recipe
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1teaspoon honey
- 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In small bowl mix yeast honey and ¼ cup of the warm water. In mixer with dough hook combine flour & salt. Add oil and ¾ cup of warm water. Mix low speed until dough comes cleanly away from sides (about 5 minutes). Turn dough clean surface and knead 2 or 3 minutes longer. Should be smooth & firm. Cover dough with clean damp towel and let it rise 30 minutes. When it’s readythe dough will stretch as it is pulled. Divide into 4 balls. Work with each ball by pulling down the sides and making another ball. Just stretch & roll in hands 4 to 5 times getting it ready and forming a ball. Cover dough again with damp towel for about 15 to 20 minutes. At this time you can wrap balls / refrigerate up to 2 days.
To make your pizza:
Roll & stretch dough on a wax paper & flour. (My dad puts a little corn starch in flour for baking on grill.)
- 1 large can of tomato sauce
- 1 large jar of pizza sauce
- 3 to 4 teaspoons of sun dried tomato spread
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- Add parley/basil/oregano(if you have fresh its better)
Add Pizza Toppings
- Olive Oil (rub on the pizza dough first before you start any sauces & toppings)
- Hamburger Meat (cook completely)
- Italian Pork Sausage chopped (cook completely)
- Fresh onions
- Bell peppers
- Banana Peppers
- Parmesan Cheese
- Pizza Cheese (Mozzarella)
Of course you can add any toppings you like best on your pizza. It’s just fun for a group of friends or family rolling out their own pizza and making it the way you want it. Grill until crust and toppings are cooked (about 8-10 minutes). Enjoy!