Signs of a Good Time

What you see here is every dish in our house - DIRTY.  Under normal circumstances, this would probably get my wife a tad worked up.  I'm often given a hard time when I 'use every dish in the house' to make dinner.  And though I can be guilty of that, at least dinner is usually awesome!  Well, most of the time it is.   But really, nobody in my house complains when being served a meal they didn't have to make.

The mess above, though, is due to a great Labor Day weekend party at our house.  Our house was full of family (it was my dad's birthday the day before) as well as a few ministry friends that needed some good food and fellowship.  We grilled out, ate well, and played with our baby; our boy, in all of his crawling-awesomeness was the real star of the day - not my grilled chicken fajitas.

Appetizers, main courses, and desserts all led to every plate in our house (literally) getting dirty, as well as a great deal of cups, silverware, and most of our cooking and serving vessels and utensils.  All comprising 2-and-a-half loads for our dishwasher, not including all of the things we scrubbed by hand.  We had to clean off every counter top, table, the bar, the sinks, the grill, and, and, and ...

As my wife and I took stock of the apparent devastation, we just hugged and gave thanks that we had such a rich life - full of wonderful people, and a place where we could gather them all up.  Then we did the dishes together.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a pastor say, "If it isn't messy afterwards, ministry probably didn't happen."  It's rung true for me lately.  What if we measured our ministry by the messiness it creates?  Messiness shows signs of life, and when we offer true hospitality to our family, friends, and neighbors, messes come along with the people.

What if we measured a successful service by the scrap pieces of paper on the floor, or the candle wax on the pews and seats after Christmas Eve worship?  What if we measured the success of a church supper by the dirty dishes it created?  What if a church mission was measured by the supplies needed to get God's work done?  We often lament during winter at the amount of cough drop wrappers my choir leaves behind in the loft on Sunday, and while I urge them to clean up after themselves, the loft is only dirty because people are there serving.

What if we even invited more of a mess?  What if we decided that it was ok for (gasp) coffee cups to come into our sanctuaries?  And what child keeps things clean?  I mean, even our infant can't help but make a mess every minute he's awake.

Where can you invite a little more messiness into your faith community?  Or, what do you consider to be the signs of successful ministry and fellowship?

Frittatas and Faith

The other night I was in kind of a goofy mood.  I do most of the cooking during the week because my wife's job gets out later during the week than mine and she has a bit of a commute on top of that.  But it had a been a long day and we didn't really have a plan for dinner like we usually do.  So I looked in the fridge, saw the leftovers and decided it was frittata night.  I then proceeded to to tell my wife that making a frittata kind of reminded me of how the church is made up. 

She laughed.

So I've taken it as a challenge to flesh out my idea, for better or worse.

First, it requires a recipe!

I love a frittata.  If you've never had one, it's essentially and open-faced omelet that you finish in the oven.  You can plan it out and make it fancy, or you can just look in the fridge at what you have and put it all together.  When I looked in the fridge I saw the following ingredients:
  • A package of sliced, thick-cut bacon.  Always buy thick-cut bacon.  Nothing else is worth it. (Any meat will do)
  • Some left over grilled veggies (potatoes, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, and onions) (you can use whatever left over or fresh veggies you want here!)
  • Eggs (I used 5)
  • 2 cups or so grated cheddar cheese (yes, I used all of it)
  • Salt, Pepper, and Chipotle Tabasco
Now for the steps!  Before you even get started, preheat the oven to 350, and get yourself an oven-safe skillet.  And make it non-stick, don't be a hero.

1)  Cut the bacon up into little pieces and put them in a cold skillet and bring it up to a little over medium heat.  The cold skillet is crucial ... It helps the fat render out without the bacon burning first.

2)  After the bacon has crisped up, you can drain some of the fat.  Or leave it in.  It's up to you!  At this point add in your veggies to saute up with the bacon.  My veggies this night were from grill packets we made earlier in the week, so they already had a lot of flavor from the grill.  While these are getting some color on them, whisk up your eggs.  Add to the eggs some salt and pepper, and I always add in Chipotle Tobasco.  It's not as spicy as the original Tobasco, and the smokiness from the chipotles is so, so good.  Go ahead and stir in some cheese too.

3)  When your veggies and bacon have come together nicely, stir in your eggs!  Make sure the bacon and veggies are distributed evenly throughout the eggs.  You better move fast, because the bottom will set up quickly.  When the eggs in the bottom of the pan have set up, top it all with more cheese and get it in the oven for about 10 minutes.

4)  When it looks all good and a little crispy on top, take it out of the oven and serve!  It should slide right out of the pan onto a platter.

It's like breakfast.  It's like an egg pizza.  It's also totally delicious.  This one was also made of left-overs, much like the church.

Ready for some God-talk, aka theology?

Here goes nothing.

Before Christ, the Kingdom was rather small.  God had chosen the descendants of Abraham to receive his favor and the people who became the Israelites were recipients of God's faithful covenant.  They would mess up a lot, but if we know anything about God, God keeps God's promises forever, so to those people was born the King, Christ Jesus.  But Christ didn't come into the world just to save the Jewish people, he came to save all peoples, the Gentiles, who through belief in Christ are no longer 'left-overs'.  How's that for the Gospel in a nutshell?

I looked in the fridge and saw a lot of ingredients that didn't mean a lot separately.  But cook them together, and something awesome could happen ... Similar to the church ... What is the church if it's not a whole lot of people put together to form a wonderful whole? 

I've thought about going on about who's what in my frittata, like, who's the bacon?  Jesus?  The Jews?  I'll let you fill that part in.  All I know is that both frittatas and the church are awesome.

The end.  See you next dinner!