Thursday, May 19, 2011
O Taste and See
Among the many graces bestowed upon us is the capacity to embrace, measure, and savor the aromas that surround us, making of these memories filled with pleasant associations. Couples in love, or those people who work in vineyards or kitchens or sanctuaries - together with those who savor the fruits of that labor - know this joy.The bouquet offered to our senses by the irresistible subtly perfumed scent of a lover, of incense burning in worship, fine wine resting in a perfectly formed glass, a glorious garden exploding in color and beauty, rosemary dancing with a wonderfully seasoned ribeye, or fresh, hot, handmade biscuits emerging from the oven are all a reminder of the joy of Eden. There, surrounded by the perfection of creation man was created and sustained by God's mercy, formed to take hold of the beautiful world and 'plough in hope'.
God has given us the capacity to 'taste and see', and this is yet another reason to pause and offer thanks to the One who made us in his image, the One who by his grace restores in us the very same, undoing the vandalism of sin we have inflicted upon ourselves and others. Perhaps this is one reason why food and drink stand at the central place of memory in our worship - the aromas of life offered by bread and wine lift and transport us back to the Cross and the Resurrection where once again we see the living and true God, the dying, suffering God who is love, there offered for us once for all and in the Supper offered to us continually. Perhaps this is why the love of our neighbor and the care of our friend must more often than not be characterized by food we bring to them, lovingly prepared, joyously offered, and thankfully received. In such gifts our hearts are united, reflecting the daring love of the Savior who offers himself as the true food of our souls, not only by this grace giving us life in knitting our souls to God, but in the same act strengthening our eternal friendship with the greatest of all Neighbors.
The moment the lid is removed from the tray with the cups of wine and the trapped aroma of the vintage explosively escapes to surround us at the Table is one of my favorite moments of every Lord's Day Eucharist. The same is true of taking the bread and tearing it asunder - how glad I am we use real bread prepared in the kitchens of our congregation's members, with each us receiving, breaking, and offering the bread. The texture and aroma of life are in that simple but profound movement and moment in worship. I 'receive' the bread - grace; I break the bread - remembrance; I offer the bread - love; herein is the Faith, the sacrament of the Table proclaiming Christ's death until he comes. The power of scent and taste claiming our memory is unmistakable; just so, Christ by bread and wine claims our hearts, our imagination, our memory, and our future. O Taste and See that the Lord is Good.