Jun 4, 2017
Graduation party season is in full swing. I was shuffling through my stack if announcements and invitations the other day it brought back memories of my graduation from Monroe High School in 1976. Yes, the bi-centennial year - when all 250 Monroe High School graduates were decked out in red, white and blue graduation gowns. And trust me - that was the least of the 70’s styling faux pas.
For me, it also marked the end of home cooking, at least on a regular basis. I can remember in those coming college years, calling home to Mom and Grandma, asking them, How do you make ‘so and so’”. While they are always ready to share recipes in printed form, it was always more fun just to listening as they offered the sharing of the secrets of the kitchen verbally. I found that there are exactly four measurements you need to know: “a little”, “some”, “for a while”, and “till it’s done”. It goes something like this: “Add a little sugar, and then some milk. Chill it in the refrigerator for a while and then bake it till it’s done.” And just what is that supposed to mean?!
“How much is a little?”....”Well, not too much.” “How much is some?”....“Just enough” “What’s a while?”.... “Well not too long”. “How do you know when it’s done?”....“When it looks like it.”
What I finally learned is that the greatest of age-old traditional recipes are often not contained in easy-too-duplicate exact measurements, but rather in constant and consistent attempts and failures. I also realize that much of the success and memory of a certain family dish is not how the ingredients come together, but rather how those ingredients brought the family together time and time again.
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. While it is the end of the Easter Season, it is so much more. It is the celebration of the birth of the Church; not of the institutional structure but of a people of God. It is a church bonded together by God’s grace, not by human endeavor.
But if we are to make Pentecost what it is meant to be, not just a remembrance of a day of our faith tradition, but a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God, then there are a few things we have to remember, a spiritual recipe of sorts.
First of all, a little - There are times when “a little” might mean a boost of the Spirit to get us past a difficult misunderstanding or conflict, that little extra patience we might need to try one more time with a child or a friend. At other times “a little” may mean the mighty roar of a voice that will terrify the presence of evil or a torch of fire that will lead the way of peace in the darkest places of injustice.
Some - In one situation, some Spirit might mean the sharing of a word of advice or a gentle moment of quiet in the midst of chaos. At other, some is nothing less than dedicating your life for the good of the Body of Christ, the community of faith on this earth.
A little while - We know that the Holy Spirit has a timeline of her own, so what might seem forever to us may be a little momentary pause in the breath of the Spirit of God. At other times a little while might mean now! Right now, before it’s too late, of utmost urgency calling us into immediate action to right a wrong or to move us onward.
Until it is done - What might seem such a great accomplishment in our life or the life of the Church might, to the Spirit of God, be just a beginning, a mere foundation for what needs yet to be accomplished. And at other times until it is done might mean that we just have to let go and acknowledge that we have done all that we can do. We must come to peace that something may appear to be uncompleted in our hearts and minds, but to the Spirit, we have accomplished all that is needed at this time.
The great thing about the Pentecost recipe is that there is no exact recipe. Like the best of our traditional foods handed down from generation to generation, we find that God intended us to discover the Spirit in our time, as we can, with the ingredients that have been set before us. Sometimes with great success and at other times learning from our failures, but always with consistent and constant attempts. We discover that the best of what we can accomplish in the work of the Spirit is not of some exact recipe or law or rule or rubric, but rather with two things: anything that gathers the family of believers, and the love that holds us together. Everything else is, as they say, the icing on the cake.