• jameshassell9

The Church and Grandpa's BBQ

I had a fascinating, vivid dream last night. In the dream, I drove to my grandpa’s house in order to go through belongings left behind after his passing. He actually passed away many years ago, but the dream made it seem like just yesterday. After arriving at the house, I stumbled upon a book containing both recipes and pictures which sat neatly on his office desk. As far as I am aware, Grandpa never created such a book in “real life,” but the dream made the book appear quite real. I poured over the recipes and pictures for hours, and fond memories flooded my mind. Yet, the most striking aspect of the book involved Grandpa’s BBQ chicken recipes. Since I enjoy cooking on the grill, the recipes and instructions for perfect BBQ really caught my attention!

As I drooled over the recipes in the dream, I began to taste Grandpa’s chicken again. It felt like I was in heaven! I spent many summer nights as a kid at Grandpa’s house, and he would grill for hours. We would eat around sundown with the family. There’s nothing like sharing such a great meal with loved ones and watching the most perfect sunsets. Nevertheless, all this was just a dream, and I woke up startled but happy. It is rare that I get to sit at Grandpa’s desk and relive cherished moments, especially moments that have to do with his BBQ.

As I reflect upon this incredible dream, I think about ways in which we can operate as a church family and share the love of Jesus with our neighbors.

1. Great things can happen around the family table. Some of my most cherished memories occurred around the supper table with family. Conversations enlightened us. Debate spurred us to think for ourselves. The food held us together like glue. Is it any wonder that Jesus spent much of his ministry around supper tables with people? His sharpest critics called him a “glutton,” meaning that he spent his time eating too much with the “wrong people.” If you’re criticized by religious know-it-alls for being too nice to the wrong kind of people, then you’re in good company with the Lord. Churches must take more time to consider how busy we are and how we can do more to get around the table with each other. Covid-19 indeed puts a kink in our plans, but even a meal over Zoom might just do the trick.

2. The table serves as a tremendous symbol for the church. Some Bible scholars insist that the early Christians remembered the Lord each time they broke bread with each other. Paul even talks about occasions known as “Agape Meals” where churches would gather for food and fellowship just prior to taking the Lord’s Supper. Consider what the table means for us as believers. Let’s invite more people to experience the broken bread and the spilled wine of the new covenant.

3. One thing about Grandpa was that he constantly messed with his BBQ recipes, especially his secret sauce. The table is a place for experimentation, not regimentation. Can we not as churches fiddle with our recipes? Some churches often experience something called “institutional creep.” Institutional creep is what happens when policies and procedures get in the way of risk and faith. The phrase: “We’ve never done it that way before” is a sure sign of institutional creep. Isn’t it interesting that the New Testament does not refer to the church as an institution but as the “Body of Christ.” A body is someone, not a something. It’s ok to mess with our recipes.

I hope and pray that someone, someday will happen upon the Westoak Woods book of recipes and taste the goodness of the Lord!

*The picture with this blog post is of Pastor James, taken at his grandpa's desk!

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