On a forgiveness scale, with minor infractions at the bottom and world wars at the major end, this story about squash casseroles ranks . . . well, you decide.
Several times a year Carolyn, a friend, is in charge of the mid-week meals that her church hosts for their members. Women who participate prepare the menus and cook the food for one month of Wednesdays. I’ve replicated some of Carolyn’s recipes and she ranks up there with Emeril. She knows the exact spice to make a chicken pot pie tasty, the little flare to make it eye-appealing.
Have you cooked for a crowd? It’s not a small task. Much vegetable scrubbing, cutting, grinding, measuring, pan washing, frying and love combine to turn out culinary masterpieces.
Ordinary recipes for small families are increased to feed 150-200. The recipes are tested because good cooks know when multiplying servings, quality can be lost. Seasoning strengths vary between a 16 ounce can of legumes and a mountain of beans.
The coordinator also considers the diners: two-year-old toddlers to gramps on walkers. Middle un-spicy ground is preferred for all palettes. Carolyn is also a do-ahead person. She knows emergencies can come up Wednesdays.
Once when her turn was near, she bought pounds of yellow squash and zucchini. After cleaning, chopping, cooking, mashing, adding butter, eggs and all the other good stuff, she ladled them into seven large aluminum pans wrapped them in foil. This took a big chunk of time and work.
Satisfied and relieved to have part of the meal ready, Carolyn delivered them to the church kitchen freezer. Now, church kitchens belong to all members, and a few days later, another good hearted woman decided to scrub down the kitchen. Really freshen it good—Spic and Span the floors, toss leftovers out of refrigerators and freezers.
When Mrs. Clean saw the overcrowded freezer and lifted the foil on a few items dried as the Sinai desert, she began tossing food into the mammoth trash can.
Dum-de-dum, dum, dum. Later in the week, Carolyn arrived to prepare the rest of the Wednesday night meal and found the kitchen sparkling clean—the fridge remarkably empty. She went into panic mode. She phoned around.
The phone calls set off a search worthy of a mystery dinner theatre. In her heart she felt they were gone, but she hoped another committee cook was baking them at home.
The missing zucchini was the buzz for several weeks. Then at Sunday worship, a couple of weeks later, a teary eyed woman approached Carolyn. Weeping, she confessed to being the squash bandit.
Carolyn said, “I could tell she felt terrible.” And Carolyn knew it had been difficult for Mrs. Clean to come forward. But two women who follow Jesus did the right thing. One confessed. One forgave.
In this season of Advent, of waiting and remembering the One who came to save his people from their sins, search around in your heart for grievances. If you find one . . . or two, speak confessions. Speak forgiveness.
Renewed, you can earnestly pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.”