The Sweet Stuff

I like a good salad in the summer. June strawberries are unlike strawberries of any other season. There are and endless variety of tasty garden treats available in the summer. I change my salads with the season choosing whatever is fresh and well-priced at the market. A salad in our household can take on an amazing variety of dishes. The primary request to have a salad enjoyed is homemade dressing. I once ate a salad without dressing. It was at a church function and those who were working in the kitchen were somehow under the false impression that everyone like Italian bottled dressing. Well, it actually tasted good. I had consumed the above mentioned bottled dressing at a previous event. It left me hard. It didn’t leave me, would be more accurate. I endured two days heartburn from that encounter and promised myself not to make the mistake twice. I ate a salad without dressing. Once. So that totals two times I ate a salad made a particular way at church before I decided to skip the tossed salad. A more prudent decision would have been to buy a reasonable bottle of salad dressing and keep it in the church refrigerator. I wonder how long it will last? I noticed there are a fair number of people not eating the tossed salad at church suppers.

I like a good salad dressing.
I make my own at home. It is astoundingly simple. Some lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt, sugar (or honey) are all that are needed. You can make a good dressing plenty of other ways, but those ingredients make a delightful sweet dressing.
The key to making salad dressing is that you must mix the vinegar and oil thoroughly. It is really simple. A wire whisk will mix a creamy dressing in no time. You can pour the ingredients in a jar with a good lid and shake to achieve the same results.
The reason the mixing is key lies in the fact that vinegar and oil do not like to mix. You shake a bottle of salad dressing before each use because the oil and vinegar separate, quickly, on their own.
You may think I have changed the focus of this blog.

  
Did she convert this to a cooking blog?
No, friends. I am just keen on analogies for talking about the things of the Spirit. Eternal things are hard for me to get my brain around without an analogy or as Jesus used a parable.
Salad is like the Word of God. There is much good fruit in the bowl. You get different good things the savor overtime you come to the table. My favorite part is the sweet stuff that binds it all together. God is like a sweet salad dressing. I fear I may have shocked some of my readers. The law bites like vinegar and the gospel soothes like oil.
I once served salads at t church dinner sprinkled only with balsamic vinegar. I read that you could do this. I did not make the idea up. It was in a cooking magazine. They must have anticipated a really good balsamic vinegar be used. It did not work very well for me. We cleaned quite a bit of uneaten salad off the plates at the end of that meal. It seemed like a good idea. It came from a fancy magazine. We were pressed for time and help. I’ve been to worship experiences that tried the same thing. The law and our sinfulness is important. But without the gospel mixed in it is also depressing. Some people think that you can scare people into religion by drawing attention to sin. You can frighten people into a religion, but not into a relationship with Christ.
Another group runs the opposite direction and fears the mention of sin. They hold that all we should talk about is Christ ‘s love. In this congregation you will never hear sin mention. Sin is viewed as too harsh and discouraging. As an enlightened group they postulate that right and wrong are to vague and variable to quantify. 
Yet another segment of Christians believe that the most effective message is focused on other people’s sin. This group focuses intently on specific sins, particularly those that the majority have no desire to commit. In this church you will never hear a word about selfishness, greed, gossip or over-consumption.

In my humble opinion the best salad dressing is well-mixed. A good blend of all our shortcomings along with a hearty dose of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We need reminded that there is definitive truth and that it is Christ who should judge, not us. A summer fruit salad is best dressed in the “sweet stuff”, the loving, valid Word of God.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

imageWe have been called; each of us in the waters of Baptism. We have all been given the mission of sharing the Good News of God’s love made clear in Jesus Christ. The text for today, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, calls it the ministry of reconciliation.

The job we share is to help everyone know that God has made peace with man through Jesus’ blood. We are “ambassadors for Christ.” We have Good News for the world yet too often, we are afraid to speak lest we offend someone. We are to speak of reconciliation and peace. Our call is to restore wholeness. Let us be brave ambassadors and speak up.

All things are made new in Christ! These are just the words a hurting and broken world needs to hear. Today I will try to keep up the refrain. Will you join me?

Dear Jesus, You who never sinned became sin on the cross and took my punishment for me. Thank you! Those words alone are inadequate. I offer You myself in gratitude. You only ask that I share the gift of reconciliation with others. Help me today to speak of Your love for all. Help me to demonstrate something of Your unconditional love, by forgiving others. Help me to remember that all things are being made new. In Your precious Name I pray. Amen.

Remembrance of Things Past

I remember the wrong things. Instead of remembering the One who spoke the cosmos into existence loves me I remember the frittata that I served with the still runny center. Rather than remembering that God, who knows the end from the beginning, placed me in the world at the right time and place to fulfill His plan, I remember the thoughtless words I spoke that sent a good man out of my life.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve made that dish right or how many February’s have come and gone since I spoke without thinking. All I remember is my own failures. Why? Because they reaffirm the belief in my own unworthiness.

I love the great dramas of history but the story of victory is filled with small acts of self-less-ness. I remember my mistakes not Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross.

Our human frailty may run just as deep as that first bite of forbidden fruit in the garden. In spite of that Jesus came, became fully human and became the perfect sacrifice in our place.

Romans 5:17
“If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

Before He went to the cross, our Lord took bread, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”1 Corinthians 11:24-25

We are supposed to remember His sacrifice. Which led to our justification. Why do I spend so much time remembering my own shortcomings? It is Lent, a time to let go of my self and focus on Jesus Christ. I remember the wrong things.