November 23, 2014
Serving Up The Stew In Stewardship

“No, don’t use those bowls.”

“Why not?” I asked while balancing four of them I’d just taken off the shelf.

“Well, I guess those’ll do.  We’re probably going to need every bowl we’ve got.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “ there are only two of us.”  But the pot had grown, and  I mean that quite literally.   We kept thinking of ingredients to add to the stew, and kept tasting it and thinking it needed a little more of this and a little more of that and we were now on the fourth stew pot, each larger than the last.   The stew was now simmering in a 40 quart turkey fryer on propane burner out in the garage.

“So, what are you going to do with all this stew?” I asked.  “There’s enough to feed the neighborhood.”

“Precisely,” she said as if I should have known what she was up to.

“What?”

“I’ve invited the neighbors to come by for a bowl of stew and to hang out for a while.”

“When did you do this?”

“When I realized that there was no end to how much stew we could make, I started thinking about what we might do with it all.   We couldn’t eat it all in a month, and we’d be mighty tired of it after the third night in a row.  So, I e-mailed the neighborhood and told everyone to stop by.  Folks could start arriving in about 15 minutes.”

“What?” I asked.  “And you were going to tell me when?”

“Right about now,” she said.  “Give you too much advance notice and you’ll find a reason not to do something.  Now go set up our folding tables on the deck and put these table cloths on them.  The folding chairs are in the garage next to the fridge.  You might have to wipe ‘um down.  We’ve got the picnic tables on the deck already and everyone else can eat standing up.”  She opened up the oven door to pull out six loaves of bread.  “Let these cool a while and then slice ‘um.  I’ll get the baskets down.

“This is crazy,” I muttered under my breath.

“Of course it’s crazy,” she said.  “Crazy fun.  Impromptu crazy.   Just crazy enough to be a blast.”  She slid six more pans of risen dough into the oven.  “Come on, lighten up.  We’ve got all this stew we can’t possibly consume, why not share it?  Why not have some fun with it?”

“I don’t know, I guess I’m not really against it, it’s just so, well….  I just didn’t expect all this.”  I headed out the door, “I’ll stir the stew and start getting the chairs, if I have to.”

“Of course you have to, but I want you to WANT to.”  She started piling bowls up in her hands, then held the tower steady with her chin and marched out the back door to the deck.  I walked back in from the garage about the same time and she grabbed me.

“Look,” she said as her arms slipped around my waist.  We’ve got all this fabulous stew….”

“And it is REALLY good, I just tasted some.”

She gave me a kiss, “Umm, it does taste good.  But we can’t use it all.”

“Well, I could go to the store and get some storage containers and we could freeze it.”

“And a year from now we’ll be throwing it out cause it’s freezer burned.   Is that good stewardship?  Let’s not be stingy with the stew.”  She squeezed me a little tighter and whispered in my ear, “Have I ever been stingy with you?”

A knock on the back door, and it swung open.  Ed burst in, “Did some say stew?”

“Serving it up, nice and hot.  Maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought”
(Garrison Keillor from the Rhubarb Pie song).  

Serving it up – that’s just what we are going to do.   We’ve been making our stew with the choice ingredients of our energy, prayer, gifts and talents, resources and treasure.  We’ll stir and taste and add more of this and that and let the Spirit spice it up just right and all this so we can serve it up…..  A bowl for mission trips to Chimbote’, W VA, and Louisville, KY and various other places.  How about another bowl for the choir and bells and kids singing; yet another for those delivering Friendship Trays, and still another, piping hot, for the golfers who brave the chilly Nov. winds and raise money for our  Habitat work,.  The Habitat folks need a bowl too, and how about a bowl or two for Family Tree, and maybe one for you and me as we grow in small groups and learn in Bible Studies.  A bowl for Deb and Pat and Cheryl, better make it two, and for all the others who keep us going week to week.  How about a bowl for Loaves and Fishes, our missionaries the Kapteyns and Prestons;  SACOH – and a bowl a night for the ladies who spend a couple of weeks with us.

A bowl of stew can make 50,000 rice bowl meals with Stop Hunger Now, and let’s serve up yet another bowl for the Deacon’s Fund.   Raise your bowl and make a toast to the our lovely campus and those who keep it so.  The children gotta eat too so let’s bring some stew to the PPC Preschool, and save some for Sunday School and make sure the teachers get an extra helping.  A little extra stew for Ray in the counseling center, there’s enough for everyone.  The youth are asking for seconds, but before you give it to them, have them take some stew to the folks they sing carols to. Look there’s still a lot left, so get the TGIM group to serve up some stew at the Rescue Mission, and give some to the Shepherds, the Sisters, the TGIF groups to see what they can do.  The Prayer Shawl group could use a bit, and since we don’t live by bread alone, take some stew to the Literary group, Book Club and Mon. Lunch Bunch Bible Study.   Urban ministry could use a heaping helping, and Crisis Ministry too.

And look, there’s still plenty left.  The pot’s almost as full as when we started serving!    Who else?  What else?  Where else can we serve up this fabulous, PPC stew?  We need YOU!   Come on, toss in your gifts and treasure, your energy and prayer, your love and care and lets stir it all up.  Now, help us see who else can we serve?  And how?  Take a bowl as you go – you never know when you’ll meet someone just craving some tasty, warm stew.  It is a “food of love thing.”