Archive for category Reflections

Gumbo Spirituality

I saw this posted on the wall at the Big Sky Cafe in downtown San Luis Obispo the other day.  I really like it.

Gumbo Spirituality
By Father Anthony Hemphill

In the house of the just there are
ample resources. –Proverbs 15:6

In the South one of the favorite
dishes is called “gumbo.” The ingredients
are commodities that are available and
cheap. Some cost nothing more than
the patience of shrimping and crabbing.
Each family over the years developed
their own recipe and styles.
True spirituality has characteristics
of gumbo. It takes advantage of what
is commonplace and available. It takes
advantage of everyday events and
every event. It sees the extraordinary in
the ordinary. God is seen in all events.
Each person develops his or her special
style of spirituality as each cook has an
individual style of gumbo.
The saints knew how to use the
ordinary to grow in extraordinary
virtue. They had the extraordinary gift
to see God in the ordinary.
Father, send us your Spirit to teach
us to use the ordinary to create the
extraordinary. Give us the wisdom to
see You in every event of our lives.

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The Taste of Worship

I found this article last year in a magazine.  I re-discovered it this evening, so I figured I’d share.  I can’t say that I agree with the author’s implication that there is only one appropriate way to conduct communion, but I do like the author’s suggestion of wine’s significance as a part of God’s creation.  Enjoy!

Analyzing sound in worship is easy because music is present
in the corporate praise of Christians the world over. Taste, another
sense used in Christian worship, is the focus of our study today.

Taste is an important part of our experience, and as such it is
often used metaphorically. For example, we can call unpleasant
sounds “sour notes” because, generally speaking, we do not like to
eat sour foods. Or, we might say that someone has a “sweet” disposition
because they are a joy to be around, and we are familiar with
the satisfaction that comes from foods sweet to the taste. Scripture
also uses taste analogically to teach doctrine and to help us develop
affection for the things we should love. For instance, David conveys
the pleasure found in the Lord by urging us, figuratively, to taste
God’s goodness for ourselves (Ps. 34:8).

Throughout history, our Father has used the taste buds to help
His people recall their salvation. For example, the Israelites ate bitter
herbs during Passover (Ex. 12:8) to recall the bitterness of their slavery before
the Lord saved them from Egypt (1:8-14). God chose the
Passover foods based on the things He wanted His people to learn.
Under the new covenant, the Lord’s Supper celebrates our salvation
in Christ, and the elements He used are the ones we must use
as well. Jesus consecrated bread and wine, not Coca-Cola and candy
(Matt.26:26-29). We will miss what God wants us to learn if we use
elements besides those Christ gave us.

As a staple food the world over, bread depicts God’s supply of our
needs. Moreover, Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:35). Eating bread
at His Table makes us see that we must feed on Christ spiritually to
meet our spiritual needs just as bread satiates our physical hunger.

Wine can have a bitter or sour taste. Yet the Lord gave it to ‘gladden
the heart” of man (Ps. 104:14-15), and so the drink is commonly
used in celebrations. Like wine, Good Friday was the bitterest of all
days, as Jesus endured the shame of the cross. Yet just as wine may
bring us joy, the salvation He purchased makes Good Friday the
most joyous of all days for God’s people.

Tabletalk  June 14, 2007

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Not exempt

A recent quote in the Herald-Leader really set me off.  In an article about recent high gas prices, one woman was quoted as saying “as Americans, we shouldn’t have to go through this.”

WHAT?!?!  Exactly, pray tell, why not??

Ignorant comments like this really ought not be published.  By living in the United States, are we somehow sheltered in an economic bubble that doesn’t ride the wave of global economics?   Is America exempt from the laws of supply and demand (or in this case, more accurately, foreign price controls), is America simply entitled to cheaper oil simply because of our stubborn reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles?  Or even more appalling, because of our status as Americans?

America’s wealth has afforded us a lifestyle that most of the world would see as lavish.  I see this as a privilege, not a right.  Sadly, many people have become so accustomed to the “lifestyle protection” that our status as Americans  has offered, that as the bottom drops out of the dollar we feel that some great injustice has been  done.  We’ve become fat, lazy, and incapable of managing our own lives.

We’re simply entitled to better because, dammit, we’re Americans.  It doesn’t matter that just a few hundred miles off our southern coast, entire nations exist whose populations live off of less than a buck a day.  Every nation falls into economic hardship at some point or another.  When those economies fall, they don’t eat.  When ours falls, we trade the Suburban for a Honda.

Folks, as Americans we’re not exempt from economic woe.  Yet rather than complain about the cost of gassing up our cars, shouldn’t we be grateful for the fact that we can put food on the table for our families?

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On snowstorms and igloos…

As I write this, Kentucky is in the throes of a “massive winter storm”… the “biggest storm in ten years.” Actual snowfall accumulation was about 5 inches. While my comments drip with sarcasm, I recognize that 5 inches is a pretty remarkable snowfall for Kentucky, but I can’t help but chuckle.

Now to their credit, Kentucky snowstorms are bizarre.. they often start with ice. Lots and lots of ice. I still can’t get used to it. Why can’t it just snow?? Why must I brush all the snow off my car only to be met with another quarter-inch of ice that must now be chiseled off? Feet and feet of snow is no big deal… that I can handle that because you just brush it away, and you can actually drive remarkably fast on it. But ice?? I’d do donuts if I could actually get enough traction to get one started!

Growing up in Wisconsin, a five-inch snowfall was pretty routine; heck, even welcomed because for a moment things were white again as opposed to the yellow-brown snow that weeks of sand, plowing, and traffic tends to create.

I have such fond memories of the “real” winters of Wisconsin. When I was younger, winters were awesome! Winter meant sledding, snowmobiles (!!!), outdoor hockey and a general excitement that I just can’t seem to covey to my southern friends. So imagine my delight when I came home yesterday to find my neighbors building an igloo. An IGLOO!! The last time I saw a real honest-to-God igloo was about 18 years ago when I lived in northern Wisconsin (Milltown… about an hour east of Minneapolis for the Google-maps nerds) when we built one in our backyard. I remember pre-forming the blocks in our backyards, covering the snow with water so they’d freeze hard like bricks. The key (as best as I can remember from 18 years ago) to good igloo-building is to stack the snow bricks just like real bricks, using pack snow as mortar, and then get inside the igloo for several minutes so that your body heat creates just a slight ice layer on the inside walls. The ice acts as a buffer between you and the snow walls – it keeps the heat inside, but the snow on the other side of the ice stays cold enough to not melt. If done properly, an igloo is actually remarkably warm on the inside – that much I remember for certain.

So with five inches of snow now rapidly melting, I miss “real” winters. I miss snowmobiles big-time… and the sledding hill by my house with the huge jumps that left bruises from wiping out on them… pick-up hockey games on the outdoor rinks… feet and feet of snow… Funny thing is now that it’s March I’m ready for spring. The longer I live in Kentucky, the less fun winter seems. Maybe I’m just getting old, maybe I’ve lived here too long. Probably both.

I should become the anti-snowbird. I’ll buy a winter home back in Wisconsin. It will have a big sledding hill next door, a huge fireplace, and at least two snowmobiles parked out front. Salt will be a forbidden commodity.. a shovel and a decent set of snow chains is much cheaper… and better for the environment! And if I get snowed in, I’ll just hitch a sled to the back of the snowmobile. Oh yes, and a little lake nearby that will freeze over so we can play hockey.

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