posted Monday through Friday
Today’s Author: Deacon Kari Alice Olsen, Mission Developer and Director of Shobi’s Table
He has come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Luke 1: 54-55
Mary paints the stage of her prophecy with seed-planting joy, making way for the action of justice that follows suit. A justice that is rooted in the knowledge that the powerful will be brought down, and the humble will be raised because God has already done so by banishing the ultimate power of death forever. A justice that feeds the hungry now because God has already provided real food in fields and kitchens on this earth at this moment and on heavenly banquet tables that will last forever. A justice that can be seen in the seed-like smallness of a tiny baby yet to be born, prophesying the salvation and mercy for all God’s Beloved community, from generation to generation.
Will all the work we do to make meals at Shobi’s Table do any good? Oh, yes. With God as the beginning, middle and end of all we do, YES. The cabbage we shred, the beets we chop, the tomatoes we roast, the chicken we braise, the sweets we bake are all seeds of that feast planted today to be reaped again and again. Forever.
The small gifts we offer to God in serving another are the seeds of faith that God is working a joyous justice that cannot be put in motion by only us only now, but by the hands and hearts of our community, now and forever. We become the hands through which God is working. We are invited into a justice that is not known by drudgery or heartless duty, but by joy and faith that God is working in and through our small seeds that are becoming a forest of the Kingdom of God.
Joyfully, we come to the table and give thanks. We give thanks that we are privileged to sit at the table side-by-side with God’s Beloved, each one righted by God’s judgment that knocks us out of our pride and lifts us up out of our own shame. A joyous justice that unites us, binding us together to celebrate the promises of God now and forever.
There is a musical duo called The Bengsons. I highly recommend their album, My Joy is Heavy. It is a musical story of learning joy through hard things, like loss. To sum up their story, here is their postlude of the album:
Your love has seeded the world with delight,
And created a joy so heavy
It has to be carried by us all
May you walk together across life,
Death and more life again.
In the work of justice there are often so many times we feel like we’ve lost or will never get anywhere. And yet, when we begin in gratitude – even for the hard things, we find that we are planting seeds. Seeds that we are confident will grow into joy and justice. Seeds that are the promise of a just world, already and not yet.
Question: What does joy, both like a seed and a heavy weight, mean to you?
Excited to make a special Brazilian dish as a part of the menu for an upcoming special evening in the restaurant, our Executive Chef placed an order for a sack of some exotic dried grain. Thinking he had ordered 5 pounds of this special grain, already far more than he needed, he surprised to discover a 50-pound bag arrive with our next delivery. There was not enough time to bring in a smaller quantity before the event so the decision was made to open the large sack and leave us with 48 pounds of extra grain.
I believe in the importance of financial planning. I know from firsthand experience the stress that comes from a lack of financial resources. I know the peace of mind that comes with having some money stashed away in the event that the car breaks down or the furnace quits working. And I know the joy of being able to share what I have with those who don’t have enough.
Those who know me well will attest to my love of delicious, freshly baked bread, especially when it has come out of the oven not long before going into my mouth. I have been known to eat my portion (and then some) of bread not with my meal but before I’ve even taken a bite of the salad or entree.
There has been a good bit of speculation over the years about exactly what manna was. The Bible says it was “like coriander seed, white and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).