“Lord of all pots and pans and things, make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!” – Father Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God
Kitchens are vibrant places. Whether you’re twisting and turning, hot pans in hand, avoiding a collision with family members as you navigate the flurry of holiday meal prep, or you’re quietly embracing the warmth of the oven as you pray in the peaceful, candle-lit evening, the kitchen is an intimate environment. It’s a place where we meet to rummage through the fridge for that late-night snack. The kitchen is a space where we lean against counters and share stories while water boils. It’s a space where, at times, voices get raised and tears flow. What memories take place in your kitchen?
Those that know me best know that I absolutely love cooking. Yet, what I love more than merely throwing something together is throwing something together for someone else. Here’s why I love the kitchen: nourishment. There’s just something sacramental, something that draws me in spiritually about the idea that what I create and craft in the kitchen will bless and serve another – and on a number of levels. In the kitchen we’re nourished physically, we enjoy flavor and color (lots of color!) and texture. Through food and companionship we are comforted, we’re entertained, we love and feel loved, we find common ground and grow to appreciate our differences. All through Scripture we see scenes of reconciliation and redemption that take place around a table, food in hand. The kitchen, food, meals together, all of these things reveal to me in real time more and more about God and the life he has for us in Jesus Christ. The kitchen is a place of invitation, of intimate meeting.
Have you ever felt that subtle shock when a relatively new kitchen-invitee casually throws open the door to your fridge? I’m convinced that can only be a result of knowing that the seemingly-ordinary items on those shelves and the way they appear in our lives is special and sacred to us – they speak volumes about who we are. But I’m also convinced that if someone new in your life feels comfortable enough to act like family in your sacred space, you’re doing something right. (Can you imagine the rough and tumble crowd that followed Jesus sitting neatly at his table? I’d like to think they felt such love and comfort with him that they couldn’t help but spread crumbs as they tossed each other bread and sloppily touched their cups of wine.)
You see, in the midst of fear, worry, of pain, we must continually be nourished. Our bodies don’t stop needing fed because of the trauma around us. God continually calls us to take and eat, continually meets us in the sludge of life. And when there is no food on the table (whether for fasting and prayer or by tragedy) we are nourished by the Scriptures and by prayer, by story, by those seated at the table across from us and beside us. As we meet at the table together, we’re drawn into deeper relationship with God through those around us, through the food before us, through the prayer and discussion we have.
One of my favorite professors sat down to lunch with me last year and casually glanced at the empty seats at our table. He then turned to me and said, “Who in your life has yet to be seated at the Lord’s table? For them, brother, we pray.” I hope I never forget that moment, because it was then that Scripture stepped out of the book and into the landscape of my life. So as you read this, I ask you to glance at your table, at your kitchen and see the empty seats, the empty plates and bowls, and pray for those in your life who haven’t yet made it to your table, to his table. Might we find more than just food at the table, but healing, nourishment, and growth.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:15-17
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” – John 21:9-14
Holden can usually be found spending time with his wife Kira, drinking better-than-great coffee, listening to obscure music while cooking, or passionately discussing wooly mammoths. A soon-to-be graduate of Moody, he’s on staff at Immanuel as the Assistant to Lead Pastor.