A bag-o-friendship to teach commitment

Last week, a friend from here at church dropped off a fragrant bag at my office. In it was about a cup of "starter" batter for a batch of Amish friendship bread. The bread, a tradition probably started by the Amish, is passed on in starter form from one friend to another; the recipient works the bag for 10 days, sometimes adding ingredients, mostly just mushing it up to keep it from being stagnant. At the end of the preparation, you make several gift starters to pass on to your own friends, add the last ingredients (including, oddly, a box of instant pudding) and bake the actual bread. What you end up with is a sweet, cinnamon-sugar-crusted loaf of Amish goodness.

When I told one of my students about it, she let me get about a sentence into the story and interrupted me to say, "Just to let you know, I don't want one!" According to her, it was far too much work.

So that made me start to think about how this weeklong bread might be a good activitiy for a small-group Bible study during a series about friendship and what it means to be a friend. You have to be committed to this bread or the starter will go bad. It takes some waiting; the bag leaks odd smells through the days when it sits on the counter; it's harder to make than most bread because there's a specific order to the steps. It's like a good friendship. (Which, of course, is why I suspect the Amish named it the way they did.)

"Of course it's hard. Anything that's worth doing is hard," I told a student one day. But to see that there's an investment required to build up good, Christian friendships, this kind of concrete, tasty project might be just what students need.

Here's the recipe:

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
Amish Friendship Bread (requires the starter)

No comments: