A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - For the Sake of the Green Bean Casserole, Love One Another!

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

We can have differing opinions on many things,
but can’t we at least unite over the green bean casserole?

I have a very loving and supportive family.
That doesn’t mean we agree on everything.
There are certain subjects  that are better left alone…..
religion and politics to name a couple.
Football makes it a trifecta

If any of those subjects come up when gathered at table,
we all agree that we just aren’t going to agree……

We are made up of liberals, conservatives, and moderates,
we have Protestants, Catholics, and Non-Demominationalists,
and we have those that root for the right team,
and those that root for the wrong team,
and  (gasp!) those who could care less about football,
all waiting for the food to be passed.

Anyone who knows me,
knows that I am passionate about
music, faith, and football.

As to football………..
I have license plates,
mugs, ketchup & mustard dispensers,
blankets, shirts, hoodies,
coats, socks, bowling ball cases,
framed tickets from notable games, 
picnic paper ware, tablecloths,
souvenir photo albums, playing cards,
lawn flags, hats, soda cans,
kites, Frisbees, footballs,
Christmas ornaments, dog collars,
seat cushions, golf balls,
mouse pads, beanies, and jerseys,
to name a few things
that all proclaim my loyalty to the best football organization
ever assembled in the history of mankind.

The problem is holidays.

When I host family,
I do my best not to turn the house into a pep rally,
but I don’t hide my light under a bushel either.

I don’t put away things that are ordinarily on display.
But neither do I offer a family member who roots for the wrong team,
condiment dispensers of the right team 
when they are dressing their hamburger.

I like to think of myself as sensitive and compassionate
towards those who are on the wayward path toward football calamity.

But sometimes right and wrong are on inevitable paths to collide,
and it is the innocent that pay the price.
Such was family Christmas at my home in 2012.

It is in the kitchen,
where there is usually the greatest traffic
as the meal is being prepared.

At the oven
casseroles cross paths with side dishes.
It is also where football good meets football evil
in a culinary showdown of apocalyptic proportions.

In the frantic scramble that occurs 
minutes before the turkey dinner reaches the dinner table,
potatoes are being mashed,
gravy is being wisped,
turkey is being sliced,
and side dishes are in transit  to and from the oven.

As my sister of the wrong football team 
attempted to put a dish into the oven,
the cookie sheet upon which sat the 
beloved green bean casserole shifted
and began to slide.

In a moment of panic,
my sister cried out,
Quick, I need some potholders

As I looked around me,
all I could find were a pair of oven mitts,
that would be oven mitts of the greatest team on earth.

I quickly handed the mitts to my wayward sister.
“I’m not putting those things on!” she cried.

And in that moment where good met evil,
the green bean casserole,
the most beloved of all holiday casseroles,
slid off the cookie sheet and onto the floor.

As the dog was gratefully scarfing the onion rings,
and with the steam of the casserole arising from the floor,
our eyes met and in a moment of new found self-awareness.
We might as well have burst into singing
the finale of West Side Story…….

“Somewhere, we’ll find a new way of living,
we’ll find a way of forgiving.
Somehow, someday, somewhere……..” *

Sometimes in our disagreeing,
we forget that we have much more in agreement.

All communities have times of disagreement.
The church is no exception, it’s been true for 2,000 years,
and it will be true for however long till Christ comes again.

It isn’t disagreements that weaken the church,
it is how we respond to them that ultimately
build or erodes community.

Paul describes who we are to be during such times.

“Love is patient, love is kind,
and is not jealous;
love does not brag, and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
it does not take into account a wrong suffered
it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Love bears all things hopes all things
endures all things.”    I Cor 13:4-7

Insert one’s name wherever the word love or it is found in the scripture,
and one begins to see how well one does during times of disagreement.

Cultivating a proper heart attitude
is the start of living through disagreements.

It recognizes that no one has a corner on the truth,
that what we have to lose, is worth far more than what we seek to gain,
that even those not involved in the disagreement may be affected by our pride.

Continuing to love especially when it is not easy,
is at the core of our faith.
It is what brings us to the altar.
It is what brings us to  the communion railing,
It is what brings us home.

And when you are home,
it brings you to the table 
where there is a big platter of love,
and Lord willing,
the green bean casserole  as well.

Now, enjoy the feast,
and the game too!


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