Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they take hold of the life that really is life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
THE GOOD STUFF! “Goodies;” a.k.a. sweets, treats, candy, sweetmeats, morsels, treats, delicacies, tidbits, yummies, gourmet confections, bonbons.
Yes, this is the time of the year when good people who are otherwise dietarily well-behaved, people who frequent gyms, walk dogs, eschew sugar, and purchase organic, grain-free pasta from Whole Foods, give each other little time-bombs wrapped in festive bows and ribbon.
And it’s all good. In our case, this past weekend produced the most amazing pound cake, some kind of rum-soaked bread, a toffee-nut concoction that’s likely registered on some federal “food-danger” site, the best macaroons on the planet, and a box of chocolate-covered bourbon-balls I honestly don’t have an adequate vocabulary to begin describe.
So how, you may ask, has this potent collection of culinary masterworks made its way onto Derek’s list of iconic Advent images for 2014’s “Advent at the Improv?”
Well, I think the following scripture from John’s Gospel helps explain my thinking. It’s the scene at the wedding Jesus attends at the town of Cana, where his mother tugs on his sleeve, and where he ends up turning the water into the most amazing wine.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” – John 2:9-10
For me, the heart of the story of Jesus at the wedding isn’t specifically about wine, or about miracles, or even about marriage (although there’s a lot in the story about all three); it’s a story about excellence; it’s a story about how – when Jesus is involved – everything ramps up a notch, and how Jesus inspires us to constantly push the envelope; it’s a story about how Jesus brings out the very best in everything, in every aspect of the way that we pursue this adventure that is life.
Jesus launched his public ministry with a demonstration that the Jesus quality of life never settles for second best. Our marriages, all our relationships, our work, our creativity, our generosity, our love, our giving, our worship – all that we are, all that we do, all that we purpose colored by our commitment to carry – with enthusiasm – the good news of, “The Life that is truly life” (1 Peter 6)
BONBONS: That’s what the giving of beautiful gifts represents; it’s what a box of chocolate-covered bourbon-balls says so eloquently; it’s the deep meaning of baking your very best pound cake and giving it to a friend.
It all says, in no uncertain terms, that “Where Jesus is involved, whatever we’re up to has to be special; when we’re talking about the Gospel, it’s important to use our best words; if we’re sharing goodies to celebrate Christmas, then you’d better believe that what we give one another is going to be as good as it gets.”
And, with that, I think I’ll pop into the kitchen to sample another one of those macaroons…