Every year on my birthday, in October, my wife prepares "The Coffee Cake." This was the breakfast my mother was preparing when I interrupted her with the announcement that I was ready to be born. As a child, every year my mother would make "The Coffee Cake" on my birthday. Even after I left home, she continued the tradition. She also made sure my wife had the recipe (it's on the Bisquick box) and Fay has continued the tradition. So for 61 of my 64 birthdays I have enjoyed this special meal.
Did you ever notice how many of our family and public celebrations center around food? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years (at our house it's take out Chinese on New Year's Eve), Super Bowl Sunday, St Patrick's Day, Shrove Tuesday, the 4th of July and on and on. Food is central to our celebrations. When I was in Africa and spoke at a small country church it was expected that I would stay and break bread with the elders of the congregation.
Yes, food is central to our shared celebrations. Unfortunately, what also seems central, and totally unnecessary, is gluttony. It is not necessary to eat half a 20 pound turkey by yourself to prove you are thankful. 8 bratwursts will not help your team win the Super Bowl. Two pounds of strawberry shortcake don't make you any more patriotic than the person who only ate 1 six ounce serving. The only thing gluttony makes you is bigger.
For the Israelites food was also central--hence, when God visited Abraham, (Gen 18:6) Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, "Quick, take a sack of your best flour, and bake some bread."(Gen 18:7) Then he ran to the herd and picked out a calf that was tender and fat, and gave it to a servant, who hurried to get it ready.(Gen 18:8)
the Passover, and Holy Communion are built around a meal. When the prodigal father welcomed home his wayward son, they killed the fatted calf.
In a nation that has the capacity to feed the world, gluttony and the waste of food are shameful. When I was about 8 years old, my mother would tell me to eat everything on my plate because children in China were starving. I have no idea how my eating everything on my plate would help hungry kids across the Pacific, but it is what I was told. One night my mother put something in front of me that I found particularly odious. When I didn't eat it she again reminded me of the starving children in China. "Well, as far as I'm concerned they can have this garbage" I retorted.
My father started to come out of his chair, but my mother stopped him. "OK," she said, "That's just what we'll do." When she serve dessert, there was none for Danny. the next morning I came into the kitchen for breakfast. There were hot cakes, bacon, syrup, eggs, and milk for everyone except Danny. As I left the house for school there were only four lunches on the counter: none for Danny. But I wasn't worried, all I had to do was tell the teacher I forgot my lunch and they'd let me charge a school lunch--of course my mother knew that and was a step ahead of me. She called the school and told them what she was doing. (Today she would be arrested for child neglect, but back then it was called"experiential education.") I didn't get a lunch that day. For Dinner that night Mother cooked my favorite meal--roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding. I got a scoop of rice. No soy sauce, no veggies, no meat, just plain rice.
After dinner my mother wrote a check to the church's fund for international hunger in the amount it would have cost to feed me for a day. I was given the check and told to put it in the offering plate.
Not only did I never complain about my mother's cooking again, I learned a whole new appreciation for food. Food, like everything else we have, is a gift from God to be used wisely and shared generously.
Eat well, share generously, and be blessed.
ChaplainDann He took some cream, some milk, and the meat, and set the food before the men. There under the tree he served them himself, and they ate.