Anyway, on Monday nights I often find myself in the kitchen cooking for everyone. In recent weeks though, I have tried to get out of the kitchen a bit more in order to be at least a bit pastoral. However, I find myself wandering back into the kitchen every week, primarily because it is easier to work with food than with people. Food does what I tell it to, and it doesn't have needs. Food doesn't suffer from mental illness or demand my help. Food gives me something rather than taking. Food is almost always satisfying. It is no wonder to me that Jesus would present himself, in several ways, as a meal that nourishes, sustains, satisfies, and fills us. Of course, I have to deal with the fact that Jesus' primary way of nourishing, sustaining, satisfying, and filling people is not by feeding people, but by being with people, by loving them, listening to them, befriending them, and ultimately dying for them. Damn. I wanted be let off easier than that.
I can imagine myself in a scene from Lewis' Great Divorce where I am alone in a professional kitchen filled with gourmet ingredients cooking meals for a crowd that isn't there. The food is so delicious, but there is no one in a million miles to share it with. That is hell indeed.
Anyway, it hit me last night as I chopped the pork bbq (like a good NC boy!), and put squash in the oven to roast, that feeding people finds its meaning largely in then eating with them. A meal just tastes better when it is sandwiched between conversation, inundated with laughter, and covered in the prayer of fellowship. Unfortunately, that is such a romantic and sentimental sounding description that even as I wrote it I couldn't help but wonder if it was true or even possible in a setting where people want so much of my time, energy, connections, resources, and knowledge. It must be true and possible though or we might as well close up shop and find something less difficult to do.
I am reminded of the story of Andre Trocme, and of course his wife Magda, a couple who, along with their congregation, worked to harbor Jews during WWII. It was said that the Trocmes did not only give of their resources, they gave themselves, and they did so in an environment more demanding than any I could really imagine. I aspire to that, but just like Andre and Magda, it takes a community to sustain me; it takes meals shared and prayers offered; it takes deep friendships; it takes the Holy Spirit and the church.
So, why make this my first blog post on this site? Well, first of all I tend to talk and write about whatever happens to be on my mind at any given moment, but I don't think that is the only reason here. It is my hope that this can be a place where I not only share any insight I may have, but where I can reflect on what I am learning, to share a virtual table with you where we can talk about life and this whole following Jesus thing, all the while keeping in mind that it is easier to write about Jesus than to take up my cross and follow.