Last week, my friend dropped off ‘Herman’ to us. He only demands attention and a tickle four times a day and only needs feeding once every four days. He’s no trouble. He just sits on the side in the kitchen, minding his own business. Several times throughout the day you might hear me say, “Hannah, have you tickled Herman today?” As Rolf Harris would say, “Can you tell what it is yet?”

No he’s not a new pet of ours, Herman is a friendship cake. Perhaps a better description would be he’s an edible chain letter, a mixture of flour, sugar, water and yeast. He came with his detailed care instructions. Herman must sit on the side and be stirred for 10 days and be fed on Day 4 and Day 8. If he is not carefully nurtured Herman will die. On day 9 we have to divide Herman into 5 portions, keep one to bake and give four away. Then the whole process starts over again in four of our friends’ kitchens. Evidently if you get too greedy and don’t share, Herman spreads to gigantic proportions, soon over-running the kitchen. Sounds like a horror movie…’Death by Herman’?

I guess Herman works because people like to share things they have invested their time in. It is the notion of giving something of yourself. But it’s no good if you’re not prepared to be patient. Herman will never be transformed into something tasty if you’re not prepared to wait. How appropriate then, that we received Herman in the season of Advent, a traditional time of waiting.

Here are a few thoughts Herman provoked in my mind that you might like to ponder while you’re waiting:

There are detailed instructions in God’s word of how we can carefully nurture ourselves and others that we may not die. Who do you need to consider nurturing today? Is it someone else? Maybe it’s yourself you’ve been neglecting.

What do you have that are you willing to give away for friends and indeed strangers? Is there something you’ve been holding onto for yourself that is threatening to take over your life and your priorities?

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.” (Matthew 13v33) What things of the kingdom could you share with your friends this Advent?

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