Cherry Cobbler and Simple Church
Last Monday (June 12) was our second wedding anniversary. Two years of being married to God's gracious and wonderful gift to me named Christy. And to celebrate our anniversary, we were blessed enough to have the opportunity to get away to a quiet little cabin for a couple of nights. (I was very happy that our anniversary fell on a Monday this year, which is my only full "day off" from the theater productions I do during the summer. Additionally, since we are currently in production with a show, and not in rehearsals, I was off from 4:30 on Sunday until 7:00 PM Tuesday, so we were able to be away for more than just a day. When we're rehearsing a show, it's 10-6 Tuesday through Sunday, so I would have only had from 6:00 Sunday until 10:00 AM Tuesday. But I digress...)
One of the activities that we had decided to do on our little mini-vacation was to visit Levering Orchard near Ararat, VA. In recent months, we had read a book called Simple Living written by the owners of that orchard, Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska. Since the orchard was only about a 45-minute drive from our cabin, we took time Monday morning to drive up there and pick sweet cherries.
After climbing tall ladders and picking about 21 pounds of cherries, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and stroll in Mt. Airy, NC, stopped at the grocery store, and then headed back to our cabin. (Yes, there is a connection to simple church coming up in this essay. Bear with me while I enjoy remembering this fun vacation with my wife!)
Back at the cabin, we proceeded to pit a few cups of the cherries and use the other ingredients we had bought at the store to make cherry cobbler for that evening's dessert. That evening, we enjoyed a wonderful marinated london broil cooked on the grill, a delicious salad, and the freshest, yummiest cherry cobbler I can ever recall having in my life. It was so good!
As we ate all of that wonderful dinner and dessert, I began thinking of the alternative. We could just as easily (probably more easily, actually) gone to a nice restaurant somewhere for dinner that night. At that restaurant, we could have had a delicious steak, and perhaps even had some cobbler for dessert. But something about this meal we enjoyed far surpassed dinner at a nice restaurant. And I came to the conclusion that what made this dinner so much greater and more fulfilling was the fact that we had contributed quite a bit to the making of it.
The cherries that we were enjoying in our cobbler had still been on the tree a mere seven or eight hours prior. We had taken the time to climb the ladders, select the cherries on the tree, pick them ourselves, wash them, pit them, mix the other ingredients and bake it. We had put forth the effort to make a cobbler, rather than just eating one that someone else had made for us.
That thought made me realize what it is that makes simple church so much more meaningful and powerful for me. It's the idea of everyone contributing to the "meal" that makes it much better. And when I'm in a situation where someone else has already done all the "cooking" and preparation work for me, the "meal" is not as special. It may be really good, but not as personally meaningful.
Somewhere, once upon a time, I read something similar that I have often shared with other simple church folks. When we gather as a simple church, we usually share some sort of a meal together. And usually it's some form of a "potluck" where each family brings something to contribute to the meal. If only one or two families brought something, there would not be nearly as much food to go around, and it would not be as fulfilling a meal. It works best when each brings something for the group.
Likewise, with the spiritual "meal", if each one brings something to share with the group, there is more "to go around". It is those times together as a simple gathering of believers, when several are able to share, that I find the most fulfilling meals. And it is those meals when I am able to contribute something myself (obviously, it must be assumed here that I am talking about contribution under the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit) that I experience the most from the meal.
I haven't written this analogy in the most clear and elegant way, but I hope the metaphor at least comes across.
Until next time,