Traditional Tastes, New Foods and the Gospel

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” - Isaiah 55:2

Dear Friends,

On Sunday we kicked off our Lenten series, centered on, of all things, food.

Lent is traditionally a season where people give up certain things, often food items, to identify with the suffering that Jesus endured during Holy Week. Whether it’s chocolate or alcohol or red meat on Fridays, food plays a part. It eventually leads us to Holy Week, the celebration of The Last Supper and of course an Easter Feast with all the fixings.

This year in particular, we’re taking our cue from the Passover Seder (which means order), the traditional celebration of God’s people remembering their salvation from slavery in Egypt. And there are many, many, many connections between the events remembered, the ceremonial celebration and the saving events of Jesus work on the cross that we’re just starting to scratch the surface of. I’m super excited to explore more!

But going back to the food part… there’s a great gospel dynamic that exists in the meals we eat, that we may not always recognize.

On the one hand, what is particularly special about gathering for holiday meals - be they Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other - are the traditional dishes we’ve had for years and years. It’s those recipes that are handed down from generation to generation - Grandma’s apple strudel, aunt Ethel’s meat balls, Uncle Tim’s chili - that you just come to expect, that warm your heart and flood your mind with so many good memories. This is, honestly, one of the best parts of holiday gatherings. We may not even have all of the same favorites, but our favorites bring so much comfort and joy to our mouths and our stomachs and our hearts!

And on the other hand, there is a whole wide world of tastes and experiences out there, beyond what we’ve traditionally come to expect. I’ll never forget my introduction to “stuffing balls.” I was used to a Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with my mom’s sausage stuffing, which I absolutely adore. And then, on one Thanksgiving, a new family member made an old recipe (old to them) of Walnut Stuffing Balls. I’d never heard or tasted them… but I gave it a try… and fell in love. I loved them so much, they became a staple at our holiday meals.

Merging these two together - the traditional tastes that bring to mind so many joyful memories, and trying something new and expanding our horizons to experience even more of what God wants to offer us - is a gospel message.

God has always been with us. Since before we can remember, God has been working and moving, weaving and guiding in our lives, and with the flip of a switch or the taste of a dish, we are propelled back to those times finding deep comfort. And at the same time, God is propelling us forward into new experiences, deepening our our love and expanding our opportunities to bless the people around us.

My hope this Lenten holiday season, is that you will both taste the comfort of God’s presence in your past, and expand your palate by the continuing invitation of God into the present.

Welcoming you to Grow in Jesus - one bite at a time,

Pastor Don

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