Finding God in strawberry pie
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh
I’m thinking about food. Those of you who know me will say, “So what else is new?”
But this food is different. Yes, it tastes good. But this food goes beyond taste to reach from the belly to the heart. This food also speaks of the importance of the relationships in our lives and our relationship with our God.
My grandmother used to make strawberry pie. It was very good. She would deliver one of her pies to our house when strawberries were in season. The pie did not last long at all. It usually took only a day for the pie to disappear.
We sometimes watched her making the pies. And we asked for the recipe. She said the recipe was in her head.
My grandparents died in an automobile accident in 1978. It was a tragedy that scarred our family for many years and I have to say still does to some degree. Among all the loss came one admittedly selfish and seemingly trivial realization: no more strawberry pie.
But among all of my grandparents’ belongings, we found my grandmother’s recipe box. We went through the box, and what we were told did not exist we found: the strawberry pie recipe. The card with the recipe bore the marks of my grandmother. There were stains on it from ingredients. There were even smudges from her fingers.
My mother tried the recipe. We thought we had recovered a tiny morsel of my grandmother. It was not to be. It did not look or taste the same. My grandmother obviously did something different when she made the pie that she did not put on that card.
So even today when I go into a restaurant that displays its desserts at the entrance (a brilliant bit of marketing, by the way), I check for strawberry pie. I know what I’m looking for, and if I see one that looks close, I try it. For that matter, I’ll try out one that doesn’t even come close! Trumble’s wins the prize for being closest to duplicating the recipe.
Have you noticed yet that I have not been writing about strawberry pie? Well, yes, I have. But I am also writing about a relationship, a beloved, meaningful and cherished relationship. And I am writing about keeping that relationship alive, not for what it does for the belly but for how it lifts the spirit and creates a sense of belonging.
Consider now the words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Paul writes about the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He is also writing about his firm belief that his Lord and Savior who the world says is dead and gone is in fact alive and more than well. This Jesus continues to bring life through forgiveness and the promise of eternal life through believing that he is alive.
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Albert Lea is blessed with churches where these words from Jesus himself are handed on again. Those words still stir hearts to believe and hope and empower hands to acts of love and charity as they did two thousand years ago. Those words still gather a family that is renewed each day and sees each day as filled with life and opportunity. And this family knows full well that days of adversity and sadness do come. But this family knows that its Jesus is here to guide and has already prepared the way through to eternal happiness.
The churches of Albert Lea do not serve strawberry pie. For that matter, let me know if you find one. But they do serve the bread and the wine of the one named Jesus who gave himself for your life, for your sin, for your forgiveness.
And there is no recipe box sitting up front in any of our churches. But there is the word of God. The smudges and marks of 4,000 years of believers witness to their encounter with the God of heaven are found on those pages. And those pages come alive in hearts inspired and lives empowered.
Todd Walsh is a pastor at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community.