Pass the plate, and celebrate!

In my world, a happy occasion is an excuse for celebrating with food. Heck, where I was raised, even death was accompanied by a parade of foil-covered pies, cake, and potato salad and such. Even in grief, people gathered around food.

So this afternoon, we will sit down to a feast prepared in honor of our risen Savior Jesus Christ, who proclaimed Himself the Bread of Life. There will be root veggies, apple cake, chocolate pie, fresh greens and, of course, roast lamb fresh from the oven.

I happen to believe that Penzeys motto: “Love people. Cook them tasty food.”

At my house, mashed potatoes are real potatoes actually mashed. Meat is fresh, seldom frozen. Veggies are mostly Farmer’s Market fare. I grew up eating fresh from gardens. I learned to cook by watching it done both at home and on TV before there was cable. My version of “The Food Network” was watching “The Galloping Gourmet” on a black-and-white set with Mom’s friend from New Jersey who loved to cook on visits South.

I had to learn to cook. When I married, my husband endured rock-hard biscuits and sometimes three-hour meal prep before I produced something edible. I am full of thanks that he was patient. My cooking improved with good advice. I used to phone Mom across three states to have her translate a pinch and a dash into measurements that would reproduce her macaroni and cheese made with red-rimmed hoop cheese and butter – or her peach cobbler made with Georgia peaches.

I rather think Jesus enjoyed celebrating around food and drink with those He loved. Search the Scriptures and you’ll find him around a table.

His first miracle was at a wedding in Cana. (John 2) His Last Supper found Him gathered around a table to celebrate the Passover meal, of which He Himself would be the fulfillment.(Matt 26:18) He is recorded reclining at the table in the home of Simon the leper. (Matt 14:3) I am pretty sure there were meals served when he dropped by the home of Mary and Martha, who is said to have been busy with preparation.

For me, what gives a meal meaning is not so much the food itself. What makes the difference is who we share it with and why. All the chopping, stirring and hovering over pots is an opportunity to gather in the kitchen for relationship, conversation and laughter.

As my young people have grown and gone, their arrival home is a joy that we celebrate around meals.  My daughter drove in last evening for Resurrection Sunday, and the cooking commenced in earnest.

I couldn’t help thinking about the marriage supper of the Lamb that Jesus will one day celebrate with us in His kingdom, perhaps with a toast of wine. It will mark the culmination of what He accomplished at Calvary and sealed at His resurrection: to save us sinners and to finally deliver us a prepared people to a prepared place.

It will be a meal to remember, as He welcomes us home.

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Are You Dead or Alive?

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Sin doesn’t make me bad.

It doesn’t make me unacceptable.

It doesn’t even make me unfit or unworthy.

Sin makes me dead.

I don’t know one person who is able to make themselves un-dead; which is what makes Jesus and His Resurrection relevant.

Every other person who ever has lived and died is still in a cemetery, crypt or some other final resting place. They cannot help themselves. And they cannot help me. They are dead.

Then there’s Jesus, whose bodily resurrection we’re soon to celebrate as the highest holy day in the Christian calendar: Easter. Jesus died to save sinners, got up from the grave on the third day and ever lives to intercede for us.

“Dead” was the human condition when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to accompanying shouts of “Hosanna!” These people were breathing, talking and walking around, but they were spiritually disconnected from God, dead in trespasses and sins. Know anybody like that?

Jesus provided the cure for this zombie-like existence through His subsequent crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Christianity teaches that every human being past, present and future is DOA, dead on arrival, because of sin. Think Book of Genesis: Adam and Eve disobey God and everyone thereafter has sin stamped into our DNA. (Romans 5:12) Sin isn’t just about what we do, it’s about who we are: born sinners.

Nobody needs to be told they sin. We know it intuitively even though we may argue the point. Even if we won’t admit our sin, we know when we’ve been sinned against. The Bible clearly says “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Sin pays, but nothing we want to collect. The wages of sin is death, but God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, came as a sinless sacrifice to endure the death penalty imposed on sinners. With sin’s price paid, we are offered a free pardon and the opportunity to enjoy life to the full.

Who doesn’t want to cheat death? Jesus offers life to the dead. This Easter, instead of just gathering with other dead men to go through another religious ceremony, why not accept the offer?

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:   (John 11:25)