Kitchen Has Community
I am always amazed at the beautiful pictures of food and dinner recipes you find in magazines, newspapers and online. Pinterest, a website for individuals to collect ideas from the internet, is a goldmine for beautiful looking meals we can all cook with ease and perfection.
I am not alone in trying some of these recipes and joining hundreds of folks whose meal doesn’t exactly turn out like the picture. But that said, it has not kept me from continuing to try new recipes, attempt alterations and try again.
My mom taught me how to cook when I was little. She got me a step stool so I could reach the counter and help stir, pour, roll and watch. One of my favorite memories as a child was my grandma, cousins and I sitting in front of the stove watching cinnamon rolls rise.
Since then I have been a lover of the kitchen. I am not sure what has continued to draw me into that space. It could be my love of the science of mixing flour, sugar and eggs together to make cookies. Or trying new techniques to make something taste a certain way or have a certain texture. Which I do love to do, but deep down I think it is because cooking and baking are about community.
It doesn’t seem to matter who we are cooking for, whether it is a meal for yourself, your family or a large group. Food is about people and our relationship to them. The kitchen is a place where differences and challenges can fade away because it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from or what life experiences you have had—we all have a relationship with food.
On mission trips, whether we are across the border in Mexico eating with a family or doing disaster work with low income families, food is always a piece of the experience. Eating together simple meals they have prepared, laughing together, sharing life together across borders reminds us that we are all a part of each other.
With our partners in Haiti, we gather at lunch time with our simple meals of tuna or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with our hosts who often don’t speak English and communicate with hand gestures. We eat together and share life together.
When we serve a meal at Andre House individuals take the plate of food prepared by volunteers and say “Thank You” because the meal prepared lovingly by another, may be the only one they received that day.
When we deliver Christmas gifts to refugee families and tea is waiting for us on the table. We sit, share and enjoy this moment of God’s life in us.
At our new Table meals on Wednesdays for dinner and Sundays for lunch we sit across from people we don’t know and get a chance to meet someone new.
Most importantly is that whenever we eat, and with whomever we eat, Jesus is there. Jesus is eating, sharing, and joining in conversation. Some like to think that Jesus is even sitting in the empty chair at your dinner table. Inviting us to share a little bit of ourselves and learn a little bit about another.
We cross borders in the kitchen. We meet people we would never have expected, touch people’s lives in a unique way, and see people from a different perspective. I think this is what Jesus was trying to teach us about at His last meal with the disciples. Eat together, learn from each other, comfort each other, love each other and remind each other that God is with you in this place. I hope we get a chance to eat a meal together sometime. No matter what, at your next meal you eat, find God and enjoy the amazing people that He brought into your life today.