Stirring the Pot

Stirring the Pot

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Here is a link to today’s readings.

Mom's cake batter 2016Once a year, I bake a cake. It is for my mother’s birthday, on August 6th –the Feast of the Transfiguration—and it is always the same cake, her favorite, an Apricot Queen Cake. My grandmother used to make this treat for my mother, but when she wasn’t able to do it anymore, she handed the recipe to me and taught me how to make this triple layer cake from scratch. Grandma passed away in 2002, but somehow I’ve managed to keep her tradition alive and give my mother her favorite birthday cake every year. (I’m glad to do it, but she deserves so much more than a cake.)

In the early years, I was not very skillful in baking, I’ll admit. I remember having to start over one summer when the cakes, left on the counter to cool, ended up covered in ants. Another time, I had to transport the cake to my parents’ lake house, 40 miles away. Part way there, the layers began to slip and slide apart. So I stopped at the corner store and bought a box of bucatini pasta, which I stuck into the cake at various points to hold it together. (It worked!) In the very first year, though, the problem was making the filling that goes between the layers. The directions said to turn the heat up and to stir until it thickened. I stirred and stirred, but it wasn’t thickening, so I got Grandma on the phone to help me out. She assured me I was doing the right thing. “Just keep the heat on and keep stirring the pot,” she said. Sure enough, after a few more minutes, the change was instantaneous. I had a perfect filling for the cake.

Mom's cake 2016Our Scripture readings at this time of year make me think of my mother’s cake. We keep reading things like “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival” and “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Last week, we heard Jesus tell us, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” This week, we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” The verses are full of expectation! We are on the verge of something beyond imagination. We are waiting and hoping and longing for…  but we must not wait passively. We are preparing for the wedding feast of the King. And, as Julia Child once quipped, “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Waiting is not easy. The very word patience comes from the Latin word patior, meaning to suffer. As we wait for the Second Coming of Christ, the suffering could make us weary and tempt us to hopelessness. Yet, the Scriptures encourage us to carry on. Hebrews reminds us: “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Being a disciple, as I mentioned in my blog last week, means accepting the discipline of following Christ on the way of the Cross.  It means actively getting to know Jesus Christ, who identifies with the poor and the marginalized. (“…some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last,” he tells us.) Hopefully, we will never hear the words, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!” but instead will find happiness in our judgment because, “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.”

Mom's cake sliced 2016In all our work for Christ, it may seem like we are making little progress. It may seem like the problems of the world are too many and too big. Christ’s return seems so long delayed that we are tempted to weariness and we wonder when will the Kingdom come? Nonetheless, something is already happening. Like the filling for my mother’s birthday cake, the transformation is invisible to us. We simply have to trust that God is at work (despite appearances to the contrary sometimes). In the meantime, we need to prepare. We need to work for the values of the Kingdom, putting heat on our leaders to seek justice and to work for peace. We need to stir up the goodness in all of us and patiently continue the works of mercy. In other words, as my grandmother said, keep the heat on and keep stirring the pot. The great Transfiguration will come in God’s time. Stay with your cooking! The cake will be worth it.

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1Comment
  • Marion Collins
    Posted at 20:26h, 21 August

    Kevin. You have done it again-Wonderful Blog. You managed to make the Olymipics and Scripture become a personal challenge for each of us as you did for yourself with your Mother,s birthday cake. You have incorporated passing on your Grandmothers tradition of the cake with the challenges of the Scriptures which
    continually direct us to God, You even showed us how to be watchful with our eyes fixed on Christ as you creatively saved the sliding layers of cake.
    I particularly like the fact that you highlighted the words of the Prophet Isaiah “I come to gather nations of every language, they shall come and see my glory”? It is so appropriate as the Olympics come to a close and we have witnessed nations of every language, race, culture, and religion come together. not just for personal gain but to work for the glory of God and their COUNTRY. You point out that these goals have not been easily gained. We have seen the determination,discipline, training, focus and sacrifices of these athlete and know from Scripture that we yo must persevere through the difficulties of Christ on the Cross and also to be ready
    Joyful when the Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me”?
    We see this in the inspiration that comes from certain athletes like Raphaela Silva, who fought against poverty and a life of hardship. I am also impressed with Usain Bolt and Simone Biles who openly pray before each race and with the world watching, offer a prayer of thanksgiving when they have achieved their desired goal with the aid of their Heavenly Father, They inspire us and future generations!
    By pointing to Jesus, they help us stay focused with our eyes on Him and His marginalized children. If each of us could only keep our eyes on Jesus and live the Spirit of the Olympics, the World would be a more inviting place for the second coming of Christ. We do not know the hour or the time, but please God–we will be ready so we must continue to prepare and stir that Pot to create a world based on love of God shared with our brothers ans sisters in Christ.
    Kevin and Bayard , Thank you for some real soul searching!