I’m in my kitchen looking through old cookbooks for a recipe for Church Social Frappé. If you remember, the frothy concoction was made with fruit sherbet and lemon-lime soda pop.
Hardly anybody back then was counting calories or sugar content. It just tasted good. Served up at church socials from a fancy bowl with a pretty ladle, it was splashed into Styrofoam cups, at the least, or fancy glasses, at the most, and most everybody enjoyed it. I hadn’t thought of the treat, however, in years.
But when I was asked to come up with a recipe for an online book club kit for my new historical mystery novel, I scoured my late mother’s cookbooks and came across all manner of “historical” delights — tuna macaroni casseroles, broccoli cheddar cheese quiches, stuffed party molds made jiggly and jumpy with neon orange Jello.
I’m not making fun. I happily ate those dishes. But for my online book club? I wanted something sophisticated, effortless, breezy, cool.
Simple enough, but it seemed like a hurdle too high to clear. And I knew why. What if people judged it? Judged me? Took one look at my mama’s Jello mold recipe and laughed?
I let out a grateful breath.
He provides answers, miracles, and in fact, He even cooks them. Remember that scene in John 21 where His poor disciples fished all night but caught nothing? Obeying Him, they threw their nets on the other side of their boat, catching a haul so big they could hardly bring it it in. Realizing it’s Jesus who created the miracle, they come ashore to the wonder of this:
They saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread . . . [Then] Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
John 21:9,15 (NIV)
The kindest of invitations, it was made to a denying Peter — and the other disciples who had abandoned Jesus — but it’s also made to us: Come and eat.
I pay close attention. This is a reset, a lesson I need to learn.
First, Jesus Himself made a simple meal of fish and bread. Our Lord and Savior, yes, is doing the kitchen work. As one who comes from people who did kitchen work (my late grandmother worked as a “domestic” and my mother did maid work to pay for college), I’m compelled, seeing our Jesus in the same, humble role.
Paul pointed it out, too, that Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . . he humbled himself” (Philippians 2:6-8).
He didn’t worry about finding the “perfect” recipe. Nor did He bend over backwards to be the “perfect” host.
Such worries can take over when we gather — in a book club or anywhere else — both for the hostess and the guests. But more than the book or food or reason for getting together, Jesus invites us first to love. At His beachside breakfast, love was the main topic — and also His deepest question. Do you love me? (John 21:15-17). If we do, feed My sheep.
So, make the tuna or quiche or Jello, but offer it with love.
Reading that, I put my cookbooks aside, take my evening shower, and slip on fresh pajamas and go to bed. Then, in the middle of the night, I awake from a deep sleep, sit up, and whisper a crazy word — frappé. Not because it’s perfect; it’s not. Not because it’s cool, definitely not. But because it stirs in me memories of a time and place — my little childhood church — where loving ladies in long, white gloves and fancy dresses sewn up on Singer sewing machines served up the frosty treat. It was sweet and pretty, and that made it good.
In fact, it was never fancy. But neither was the fish and bread that Jesus served.
The love was in Who served it — and for whom it was served. So, for your book club or small group, make the Church Social Frappé or get takeout. Jesus invites us to be brave enough to feed His sheep — not with fancy but with faith. Then our humble menus are always sweetened with His love.