Posted: 10/6/18 at 8:30am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Recently I watched a documentary about the relationship between changes in cooking and our changing lifestyles.
The film showed how natural cooking over wood fires takes a lot of time and is very different in nature from the fast foods and convenience foods we consume these days. Slowly cooked foods have great flavor and nutritional value and are easier to digest.
In our grandparents’ day, perhaps half of the hours of a day or more were spent by someone cooking the meals for the family. A noteworthy statement from that documentary is: “Time is the one thing required for good cooking, and the one thing we don’t give to cooking.”
So time is the one thing required to produce a good meal. I would add to that a second postulate: “Time is the one thing required for enjoying that good meal, and the one thing we rarely give to it.”
There are many places in the world today where people still spend many hours each day preparing a meal for the family to eat. And when there’s a special occasion, the time spent really increases. Planning, shopping for ingredients, prepping, cooking, baking, and preparing to serve may take days.
But what a special meal! When you arrive, everyone gathers around a large table, God’s blessing is asked, and the feast begins.
Beverages are poured, and perhaps a large tureen of piping hot soup is brought out. Then comes the salad, then the main course, with plenty of side dishes, and warm bread. Then there is dessert: perhaps succulent cream-filled slices of cakes, fruity pies, or custards, served with coffee, and all is lovingly prepared.
In America today, many times we eat out because we are already out. We grab fast food for breakfast because it’s faster than fixing something at home, we eat fast food for lunch because we don’t want to take the time to make lunch and take it with us, and then we rush home to cook frozen dinners or frozen pizza or have food delivered for dinner.
We eat on TV trays or kitchen bars, and everyone has their attention on their personal electronic devices. There is little interaction, little sharing, and little togetherness. It seems that even when we are “together” in our modern lifestyle, we are often not really together.
While we lived in Hungary, we noticed one thing when we were a family’s guests at dinner: the matron of the house never sat down at the table to eat with us. She just kept taking care of things in the kitchen, making sure everyone had everything, and bringing out more!
A typical dinner would last several hours, during which we’d remain at the table snacking and talking with the whole family, and eventually the hostess was finally able to sit down and enjoy the company. It takes a lot of time and effort to create such a wonderful meal, and it takes time to really appreciate it too!
The lady cooking a Hungarian meal reminds me of a good pastor. He or she spends days getting a good sermon ready to be served up, piping hot.
A great sermon is like a slow-cooked meal. The various parts of the sermon must have time to simmer and blend together, bringing both connection and contrast within the various parts. A good sermon has depth and yet is easy to chew and digest, thanks to all the work the pastor puts into slow-cooking it and then presenting it in an elegant manner.
A hostess’ worst nightmare is to have spent days preparing the meal, only to have the visitors not arrive. Pastors too feel like that from time to time. They spend hours fixing the meal, but the guests decide to sleep in that day.
When I look at all the hours of work that the cook gives to preparing a five-star, six- or seven-course dinner, I am so very appreciative. It takes time for a good meal, physical or spiritual, to be prepared, and it takes time to partake in such a way as to really experience a really great meal or sermon.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Why not take the time to experience the richness and nutrition of a really good spiritual dinner that your pastor prepares week after week?
While you are at it, take the time to express to him or her your appreciation for the spiritual food they prepare for you. God tells us in 1 Timothy 5:17 (ESV): “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”