By Rev. Peter Karanja
June 27, 2021
Video of entire service: https://www.facebook.com/chris.librarian/videos/178617124230244
Scripture: Ruth 2:1-13 and 1 Corinthians 11:34
I have to admit that I am one of those seasonal good cooks who happens to be great only on special occasions. I would know this simply because in many of the potlucks I have attended, people do appreciate my cooking. One thing is for sure: I do take these potlucks with a degree of seriousness given that this is a special occasion for me to share more details about who I am as a person who has been shaped by food, clothing, music, drinks, and all these cultures and traditions.
Aside from living in many countries, the dishes that standout for me are from Kenya given I spent most of my childhood and adult life there. Kenyan dishes have become a tool to celebrate these unique attributes that have been passed down from generations to my generation. One of the popular dishes among the people in central Kenya is Mokimo, a smashed potato with corn, beans or peas and vegetables then fried on a pan. One can garnish it with cilantro and serve with meat stew.
Here is a short amateur video of me preparing Mukimo.
So after being away from home for about 20 months serving as a young adult missionary in Frankfurt Germany working with local churches, refugees and migrants. I went back to Kenya for my integration while I was in the process of getting ready to go back to Theological School for my Master in Divinity. I thought one way to have a meaningful time was for me to prepare meals for us to eat together. Here, I sat down and thought through what is a new dish that I can make that my family will enjoy. I decided to prepare mushroom soup and chilli con carne, a recipe that I learnt from my mentor’s wife back in Frankfurt Germany. That day I left work earlier just to get set to prepare this meal. I was positive that my family will love and be more proud of me for introducing the new recipe to them.
I prepared the soup and the chilli con carne. The soup wasn’t my family favourite. Of course I could see from their facial gestures that really said a lot, especially my younger brother who would just taste it and pass to the main course. I bet many of us would resonate with my experience especially during the shutdowns due to the Covid 19 pandemic. One of the favourite things to do was to try these new recipes with our families. Some recipes ended up becoming the favorite for the family while others our dear family would just take a bite and have that look.
An interesting part is that although they did not like the taste they would be gracious enough not to condemn it simply because this dish was made with love. A love feast that conquers the taste buds even if the dish wasn’t that yummy.
As United Methodists we are well known for practicing open tables whereby everyone is welcome to partake of the Holy Communion that is usually grape juice and gluten free bread. In other settings, it’s wine and bread. Think again about that combo…bread with juice and some other occasion bread with wine…mmh!
I bet no one would be excited or thrilled to say that they plan to have bread and grape juice or wine for lunch or dinner…but as a church we celebrate it with one another because it is a love feast ordained by God. And for this reason our taste buds get triggered.
I love a story told of a little girl whose parents had taken her forward to receive Holy Communion. Disappointed with the small piece of bread she was given to dip in the cup, the child cried loudly, “I want more! I want more!” While embarrassing to her parents and amusing to the pastor and congregation, this little girl’s cry accurately expresses the feelings of many United Methodist people today. We want more! We want more! This is the beauty of the Love feast.
We want more because there’s joy, acceptance, love eating together as one big family. At the table we take bold steps to work hard to see the bread is on the table for the ones we love and care for. Amen!
What is more important is the selfless love it illustrates when we take a bold step into the grocery stores to buy the ingredients to make these delicacies for the ones we love. Having faith they will enjoy and love it.
We were delighted to see ourselves as proud huskers of corn, maize, teff, in the redemption story to feed our needy communities here within the States and out to the world just like Ruth the Moabite. These seeds domesticated her ancestors (ours too) and continue to do the same to us. I am thrilled that as a church on Thursday evening during the Garden Worship we accepted the challenge from our forebears Ruth the Husker to care for another and spread the love to everyone. Ruth refused to be silenced by the systematic barriers, fear and violence that hindered the strangers, huskers and gleaners of those days from excelling and sufficiently providing for their family.
As we continue to explore the glory of these amazing seeds that we enjoy that make our injera, popcorn, tortillas, corn bread, ugali and many other foods that nourish our bodies. Paul’s letter to Corinthians reminds us how glorious it is when we gather together at the table to share these meals not only when there is a special occasion but more often.
Jesus knew the power of communion and eating together, and that is why he commanded his disciples and us today to share the bread and the drink for in doing so we remember and celebrate the divine power of God that sets us free and unites us together as God’s people.