My Two Cents
May 3, 2020, 9:00 AM

The kitchen at Christian Temple is quiet today like it has been for a many days now. But make no mistake, our kitchen has had its moments as the center of the action. A LOT of goodness has come out of our kitchen.

Sometimes that goodness smells like turkeys baking in the ovens, and looks like people scurrying around getting out the dishes and peeling the potatoes as preparations for our annual Thanksgiving dinner unfold.

Sometimes our kitchen smells like a mixture of spaghetti sauce and garlic bread, and looks like parents slaving over the sinks washing dishes while kids in red aprons run food out to the tables for those who have come to be entertained and fed by the CYF at its annual talent show.

We love our sanctuary here, don’t we? But this kitchen is so often the center of life at Christian Temple. Which may be true in your home, too…that the kitchen provides the center of life, the place where all the goodness comes from.

That may be especially true during these days of quarantine as our lives have revolved a little closer to the center- actually a lot closer to the center.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about kitchens lately, partly because this week’s New Testament scripture is the story about how the very first followers of Jesus worshipped, and about how their worship happened around what was essentially the kitchen table.

But the other reason I’ve been thinking about kitchens lately is because back in my house, growing up, the kitchen was as much a part of our Sunday ritual as anything else.

Most every Sunday we eventually climbed in the station wagon and made our way to church, where there was Sunday school with Mrs. Law. And then there was worship where I didn’t pay too much attention except when the hymn was familiar enough that my dad knew it, and I got to hear him sing- low and quiet-like. Wow, I never realized how much I’d treasure that memory.

And then after church we’d often go out to eat at the Hot Shoppes Cafeteria up in Marlow Heights where my plate was already full with a mixture of lime green Jello, succotash and mashed potatoes by the time I got to the meat carving station. I didn’t like when the guy with the chef’s hat put my roast beef on top of the rest of my food. I was the kind of guy who liked to keep his food in separate piles, thank you.

All those things happened on most Sundays. But, one thing that always happened every Sunday was that the morning began in the kitchen. And, just about every Sunday, in that kitchen it began in the same way- with a Sara Lee coffee cake. An old school twelve inch round, in the tin, Sara lee coffee cake. The kind you took out of the freezer and put in the oven until the icing started to melt. I’m not even sure they make that kind any more.

Every Sunday morning, we’d all shuffle into the kitchen, sit down at the table and take a piece or two of that coffee cake. I’d find the pecans in my pieces, pull them out of the cake and neatly place them on my dad’s plate. We’d finish up. And, then we’d be off to enjoy the rest of the day. It was just what we did on Sundays. We were creatures of habit and we liked our coffee cake.

And now, when I remember those Sundays at our house, I remember those ritual morning breakfasts hosted by my mom and Sara Lee with the same- or even more- fondness and clarity, than anything else about the day- including, I’m afraid, church.

Maybe it was because of everything else that happened in the day that I especially remember the way it started. Or maybe it’s because I always got in trouble whenever I put a pecan on my dads’ plate, AFTER I had taken a bite and realized I’d missed one. Maybe it’s because most of the time most of us were around the table on those Sunday mornings…and that was good.

Maybe…

But I have a feeling that the reason the memory is so vivid in my mind is because it happened in the kitchen, where, more than any other room, our life was centered. If our family was all together, it was because we were in the kitchen.

So today, let’s give it up for the kitchen. Let’s remember those kitchens around the block and around the world that are shuttered and quiet like this one, inside restaurants that have been ordered to close. Let’s pray for the people who worked in and around those kitchens, as well as the people who are still working in kitchens that are feeding essential personnel- or just feeding us when we want to splurge and order out. Let’s be generous, so that those whose pantries are running low on succotash, and whose freezers may or may not have any coffee cake on their shelves, might still have kitchens filled with warmth and joy.

Today, let’s give it up for the humble kitchen and remember that, long after this storm has passed, and we get back to church, the ordinary rooms where we’ve taken our shelter are what we are most likely to remember as the places where we nourished by the grace of God. In more ways than one, the kitchen, is where church happens.

 

Shalom,

Rick