Monday, December 06, 2010

Pies and Table Time

If you’re like most families you had a pie for dessert sometime last week. I don’t know why I like writing about pies so much, maybe because I like to bake them and eat them. We had pumpkin, pecan, and lemon meringue pies at our Thanksgiving feast. I know that I’ve told you this story before but it’s worth sharing again. It’s about our family rolling pin. Now if you aren’t familiar with kitchen gadgetry, I’ll explain. It’s a cylindrical object used to flatten out pie dough.

In the early 1900s, Beulah Harris Messecar (my husband’s grandmother) and her fiancé traveled by wagon from Almeda to Houston to buy their household furniture. When they returned home, Beulah’s mother, Ann, looked at their selections: chairs, bedstead, pots and pans and asked, “Did you buy a rolling pin?” They hadn’t bought one.

Great-Grandma Harris said, “Never mind. I’ll get one for you.” The next time Beulah saw her mother, she handed her a crude shaped rolling pin, wooden and all one piece, obviously whittled into that shape.

All I know is that when her much younger brother Jean next wanted to play baseball, he was missing a wooden bat. The homemade rolling pin leans in my kitchen window and is still used to make pies for the family. Genuine hospitality never requires a pie, but it does require a good host to welcome the guests.

When Jesus was guest in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, I suspect he was greeted with both good food and good company. Jesus visited in other homes too, but he also hosted meals. How did the resurrected Jesus treat his guests when hosting breakfast?

Throughout a night fishing trip, Jesus’ disciples had cast their net numerous times, and again and again they hauled up empty nets and their disappointment must have mounted. Near dawn with nothing to show for their efforts, they decided to call off the fishing. Not knowing it was Jesus on shore, they heard him advise them to throw the net out one more time. They did. On the last cast, their net teemed with 153 large fish!

When the disciples stepped onto the sandy beach, they recognized their fishing guide -- Jesus. On a bed of warm coals, he had fish and bread awaiting the weary night shift. Jesus welcomed them, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12). He then served the fatigued men, first the bread and then the fish.

All the ingredients for a meaningful gathering were in place. The fishermen needed rest from the night’s grueling work and they were very happy with the last catch at dawn. Besides that, their best friend had a fire going, and a satisfactory aroma of bread and fish must have made their mouths water. Good friends were together, and Jesus was present as servant and host.

Just like Grandma Harris changed a baseball bat into a rolling pin, God is in the remaking business too. He longs to reshape us into the same hospitable likeness of his Son. During the regular days of December and the feast times ahead, whether you are furnishing the pie or the appetite, cherish the time with family and friends.

Some of our most memorable gatherings are around tables. And this December we recognize again our impoverished state and that the Lord as gracious host still “prepares a table before us.”

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