I seem to have missed both the cooking gene and the gardening gene. I’m not sure why or how, but it skipped me when they were given out. Nevertheless, I had an Aunt who was both a great cook and an avid gardener. She had wonderful, lush flowers and a vegetable garden that she and my Uncle carefully tended year after year. I had the pleasure of spending a week or two with them for several summers up in the Catskills.
One of my fondest memories is following my Aunt around in the kitchen. She was an incredible cook – her recipes were all stored in her head – nothing was written down… She comes to mind when I listen to Garrison Keillor’s recollections of those Scandinavian Lutheran potlucks. Particularly those Norwegian references.
There were regular meals that included lefse, flatbread. And I even remember things that I wasn’t at all crazy about – like lutefisk and fiskeboller. There was an almond cake that was my favorite. For years, my mother and my sisters asked for the recipe – and it wasn’t until one summer when she and I were working together side by side in the kitchen – perhaps in a moment of weakness – that she dictated the recipe to me and I wrote it down – word for word – from start to finish. Yet, despite my careful note-taking, it never did come out the same when we tried to make it at home.
There are no secrets in our lessons this morning. They speak to us about expectations. They reveal God to us, plainly and simply. They talk about God giving us what we need – and they talk about opportunities. The Gospel writer gives us lessons to ponder and examples that help us recognize ourselves, our desires, and help us recognize what God needs of us.
In our reading from 1 Kings, God gives Solomon wisdom. He gives him a keen, discerning mind – and the reality in knowing that despite being tempted by political outliers and the like, it’s God who gives him strength and understanding. And Solomon uses this gift to help care for God’s people.
We hear Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans. Reminding us that the Spirit is forever with us as we walk with Christ; as we journey in this life. Reminding us that regardless of who we are and what we do, that there’s nothing that separates us from God. God loves us and cares for us. The Holy Spirit is with us and helps us in our weakness – interceding for us on the darkest days in the midst of unbearable pain and suffering. Good reminders for us as we struggle with the constant tug and pull in our daily lives. Challenged to be God’s people in a world fraught with instability and uncertainty.
There are no special ingredients, no secret recipes. The five parables in our Gospel reading this morning are lessons that teach us about the wideness of God’s mercy, about the Kingdom of Heaven as it exists in all its glory and its diversity. We hear stories that challenge the listener; stories that stir us, empower us, and help us rise above the fray; to see beyond the complexities of the world that we face.
Each day, we see glimpses of God in Christ in our daily lives. We see him as we gather for God’s meal, with joy that comes with community. We’re reminded of our baptisms that unite us as this faithful Christian community here; and with all the baptized around the world who celebrate Christ’s death and new life with us as well. And in just a little bit, we’ll hear it again in the invitation – with the simple reminder that our Communion hosts are baked by our Mission Partners in Tanzania. The reminder that we’re united as one in God’s Kingdom – united across continents by baptism – united by God’s Word – united by God’s meal. The Kingdom of Heaven comes to us – beyond borders and boundaries – creating something new – and grows in unexpected ways in each of us, transforming us as God’s people.
There are no special ingredients, no secret recipes. There’s simply God’s constant care for us, Christ’s dying, rising, and the promise of the resurrection – all of which give us hope and help us get through each day. Faith is strengthened by God’s meal and faith comes to life when we as God’s holy people bring the power of God’s love into the world. When we share God’s grace, when we share the special gift of Christ who unites us and makes all things possible. Amen.