Cookies! Breads! Treats of every kind! As a member of the Pastoral Staff, my inbox and desk were flooded with all sorts of goodies this Holiday Season. The oh so steady but slow gains in my battle against the beltline all went out the window in just a few hours as I chomped down on all of the treats thoughtfully baked and prepared by our parishioners.
We often groan at the thought of being flooded with toothsome goodies every Holiday Season, but I have learned that everyone has a story to go with such gifts.
One man I’ll call Ed had received his recipe for a sweetbread from a friend of his family, who had in turn received it from Ed’s father years earlier. When Ed’s father died, this friend felt moved to give Ed the recipe that Christmas, saying that he knew Ed’s father would have wanted him to have it. So, every Christmas since then, Ed has baked that recipe, always cooking from the same tired, stained, ripped old piece of paper that his friend gave him all those years ago, with the recipe on it in his Father’s handwriting.
Another women I’ll call Nina gave me a loaf of bread, and on her note she wrote, simply, “This is my Grandmother’s Sweet Nut Bread.” I can just imagine the wonderful memories the aroma of this bread must have created for Nina, smelling it now must bring her back to those times as a child when her grandmother was baking it for the Holidays.
Miriam gave me a plate of cookies, and told me how grateful she was to have had so many good years since a life-threatening bout of illness. For her, life is to be enjoyed, every day is relished, because for her, every day is a gift. These cookies are a way for her to share that goodness of life with others.
All of these people were expanding my waistline, it is true, but more importantly they were sharing the good times, poignant memories, wonderful smells and wonderful meals that meant so much to them. They were sharing a part of themselves with me, taking the time to give me – literally – a portion of the fruit of their labors. They were inviting me into their lives, giving me a glimpse of what is important to them, what is deeply meaningful to them. I am being asked to become a part of their family, in a way, I am being invited into the story of their lives.
And this is the way it is with Jesus. God shared Jesus with us. In so doing, God has invited us to be a part of his life, to be part of his family, to become part of His story.
Sharing food is a very intimate, precious thing – sharing one’s time, sustenance and story with another. Gifts like this also have such strong echoes with the Breaking of Bread at Communion, potluck suppers on Sundays after church, and even the sharing of the temple sacrifices with the priests in Ancient Israel. All of these are statements of togetherness, of being a family, of being one with each other.
So, as I sit down and sample these wonderful gifts, I will share them with my own family and be thankful for these wonderful people who have given of themselves to make this happen. And, I will be thankful that I am part of The Story.
Copyright (c) 2011, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via a credit that mentions my name or provides a link back to this site).