my grandson Geoffrey, chili, and church (yes, they all go together)

O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me, is the current
Of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward… (Trevor Francis, 1873)

– Grandaddy and Geoffrey

I have a couple of photographs to share this Sunday morning. I believe they are related.

The first is a Facetime screenshot with Geoffrey in Miami. Grandchild number four is now 11 weeks old. He is doing wonderfully well, and Naomi is making sure we interact at least a couple of times most days. I swear he is becoming familiar with my voice and I know he listens when I play guitar for him and sing.

The other is this amazing batch of chili I made Friday afternoon. Great chili 🌶 is a gradual build-up process; from chopping and sautĂ©ing onions and garlic, to adding just the right amount of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, to letting the chili beans simmer long enough (it can never be too long!), to getting the herbs and spices balanced, to the inclusion of my special can’t miss ingredient.

Then there is rice, and grated cheese, and sour cream, and a beautiful dinner roll, and a good beer.

– my chili

My can’t miss, by the way, is cutting a fillet mignon into small pieces, browning it, then letting the flavorful tenderness infuse itself into the chili along with the ground beef and all the other goodness.

Rebekah – who has several favorites when it comes to my cooking – said the following in response to the chili: “This is one of the best things you make!” Music to my ears. It’s not “great cooking” if someone you love isn’t enjoying it, and being Rebekah’s personal chef is always rewarding.

So both of these images, you’ve guessed it, make me think about church.

Think about Church???

First, the amazing concentration of possibility and promise that is built into a newborn like Geoffrey. This is the genius of the infant babe at Christmastime. Regardless of how far we have strayed from God’s plan and purpose during the previous year, it is all redeemed at Christmas; and this is the image of newness and life that we have accompanying us on our journey forward – always forward – into what comes next.

I come to worship this morning with the infant Jesus in mind, all the potential and the power of new life. Born for me as I am reborn into promise.

CHURCH AND CHILI? First, I’m thinking about the “Super Bowl Chili Cook-off” we used to have at fpcBrandon (I can still taste your award-winning green chili, Chris Pabst!). But mostly the church connection is the amazing combination of disparate ingredients, coming together to make something so, so very good.

Our church in Wake Forest is like that. People from all over the spectrum, traditional to contemporary, conservative to progressive and everything in between (socially, theologically, politically); young adults, the more mature, teens, young families, singles, elderly; church members who feel we should stop being so cautious around this pandemic, and members who insist it is reckless to even think about meeting in person; people who fit into our “expected” definition of norms, and people who are learning not to be afraid to be themselves…

It’s all there:

There is this rich coming together in WFPC. There is everything necessary to make the most memorable sauce – including the spices and the accents that vary according to taste. And then there is that special ingredient, the key that ties it all together and makes it work; it’s what the hymn describes, “Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus.”

– author Derek Maul

Right now we may be virtual, but we are rich, sometimes a little spicy, and brimming with all the best ingredients.

And there is that deep deep love of Jesus, the promise, the flavor, and the new life – DEREK

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