Potluck Feast

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week with family and friends, I’ve noticed that at least in both my family and my wife’s family, we’ve moved from the “one cook” model of Thanksgiving Dinner preparation to a team effort. It used to be more common for the matriarch of the family to cook for days and spend the whole holiday stressed out with kitchen management. Now, families more often seem to collaborate, with each sub-unit bringing a part of the meal as an offering for the feast.

I love this. To me, it’s a model that not only makes practical sense, but also honors the theology of shared gifts and abilities. Many families and churches have a “one cook” model, where one or perhaps a handful of people do all the work. But ideally, everyone brings something to the table, in both the church and in our families. “We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us” (Romans 12:6).

As you gather with family and friends this week, be intentional about recognizing the ways everyone around the table has gifts and abilities to share. Some may be more gifted in the kitchen; others bring joy and laughter, still others are great listeners. Be thankful for all that each person brings to the table, and name that as you sit down for dinner. Affirm each others’ gifts, and thank God for the gifts and the people with whom you feast.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

— Pastor Erik

Who Sustains Who?

“If a root is holy, the branches will be holy too. If some of the branches were broken off, and you were a wild olive branch, and you were grafted in among the other branches and shared the root that produces the rich oil of the olive tree, then don’t brag like you’re better than the other branches. If you do brag, be careful: it’s not you that sustains the root, but it’s the root that sustains you.
– Romans 11:16-18

When you’re repeatedly told how special and beloved you are, sometimes it’s hard to stay humble about it. Isn’t that true for us as Christians? We read in scripture that we’re righteous, we’re God’s beloved children, we’re to be a good example for others to follow.

So it’s hard to stay humble when we’re praised so often. But this passage cautions us against becoming too boastful about the faith we have in Jesus, especially towards those who have yet to discover that faith.

The last line in this passage really stood out for me as I read it this week: “it’s not you that sustains the root, but it’s the root that sustains you.” Sounds simple enough, but do we live it?

I know I often feel as if God and the church really need me. Without me, how will God’s work be accomplished? That’s thinking about it backwards, as if I sustain God, the branch sustaining the root. But if that’s true, then I’m more important and more powerful than God! And obviously, I’m not.

But sometimes we need that gentle reminder. We might not ever say that we’re sustaining God, but we may act like it with busyness and anxiety about church activities. God’s mission will die out if we don’t sustain the ministry!

But it won’t. God doesn’t need us to sustain it all. But we surely need God to sustain us. As we’re tired and worn down, or confused about which way to go next, it’s God the root who provides nourishment and strength for continued growth. We branches don’t sustain the root. The root sustains us!

 

Peace,

Pastor Erik