Flour covering the kitchen counter, white handprints all over the apron, and sneaking squirts of whip cream while my wife isn’t looking, are what I love most about October. Awaiting the ding from the oven indicating the pumpkin pie is done and smelling the sweet aroma of Fall baking in the kitchen brings so much joy to this season. Dare I say, the baking of the pumpkin pie is more enjoyable than the tasting of the pie itself. For me, baking is more about the experience in the kitchen than it is about the end result.
Pumpkin pie, stewardship, and the Reformation are the three themes stuck on replay in my mind this October. What do these things have in common? They each require a process, a journey by which they are made. The final product is made with ingredients, pieces, and layers, working together to create something new.
Stewardship is not just about the amount that you give to the mission of the church, but more importantly, it’s about what happens to your heart when you give. This year, we are diving into the theme of “God blesses the world through Lord of Life.” When we discover how we are blessed by God, the Holy Spirit moves us to give with thankful and joyful hearts. When we reach that place where we can give, not out of guilt or self-promotion, but out of pure joy for the Gospel and love for the church and its mission, amazing and transformational things can happen. Stewardship is more about the experience of giving than it is about how much we give.
As we look toward commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we lift grace up as the core theological tenant that sparked this radical movement in history. Grace remains a staple of Lutheranism. Similar to baking and stewardship, grace is more about the experience than the result it brings. Grace is more than the gift of salvation. As we think about Martin Luther hanging the 95 theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, it is helpful to reflect on what he might hang on our door today.
What are the things preventing us from living into and experiencing God’s grace? Are we competitive about our faith, believing that Lutheranism is better than the rest? Do we view ourselves as unworthy to receive grace? Understanding grace as a gift freely given is much easier said than done.
I am reminded of the parable about working in the vineyard. In this story, one group of workers begin laboring in the morning, while another group begins laboring in the afternoon. At the end of the day, the vineyard owner gives everyone equal wage. Understandably, those that had worked all day were outraged! The lesson being, “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). Whether we are first or last, God will provide the outcome. Our faith is about the experience of being together as a community. Our life in Christ is about the journey.
See you in the kitchen,