Mile High Meringue Pies
October 16, 2013
I loved Jerry Clower and his stories of growing up in Yazoo, Mississippi. I had the chance to hear him speak at Central Baptist Church in Panama City not long before his passing in through the pearly gates of Heaven. He was decked out in his famous red polyester suit covered in rhinestones and sporting a weight of over 300 pounds. He was an attention getter in every way! Over many decades, he had developed his gift of telling humorous stories for television and books into a way of sharing God's love in a way no one else could. It became his full time ministry in his later years. One of my favorite visual images from his tales of the South involved his mother's unique ability to make meringue pies better than anyone else in the county. Those meringues were a mile high and so light and fluffy that you would swear you were biting into a cloud from Heaven. Everytime the church doors opened for a covered dish dinner or bake sale, Momma Clower was asked to make "a half dozen or so" of her delicious pies. She would place her completed delicacies on the back seat of the car and tell her husband to drive "real careful". As they pulled off the main highway, they reached the extreme downward slope of driveway toward the little country church. That's when Momma would go to hollering, "Cut off the engine Poppa, I don't want my meringues to slide." Now I cannot begin to tell it in such a way that brings belly laughter from a crowd, but I love that image of Momma watching over her pies.
This morning I revisited that image of Momma fretting over her pies as they arrived at church and remembered my mother in her later years devoting her energies to the Wednesday night dinners at Advent and Lent when our congregation gathered to share a meal and then worship together. I dropped by my parents home after teaching school to find Daddy lining the trunk with an insulated pad. On top of that were carefully and strategically placed cardboard boxes lined with beach towels or newspapers. I joined in helping them carry several pans of food she had cooked for the meal and her pottery jars of sweet and unsweet tea. The two of them worked like clockwork together. Mom shared the menu as we drove that the "ladies" had planned for supper and she was "all a flutter" with getting the food to church "good and hot and on time." She was focused on her mission. In time she became frustrated with petty arguments between the ladies and the behavior of kids who broke in line and took too much food and the lack of "donations" to defray the costs for plates, napkins, plastic wear and cups. I remember now how it affected her once focused mission to serve food as part of the service and reduced her thoughts to despair and disgust. She gave up and removed herself from the list of volunteers.
In these two stories we have to see beyond the meringue sliding and the little tiffs that occur when we are human. We see two ladies focused on getting food to the church and we wonder how that connects to serving God in His church. That's when we are challenged to see all those who do good works, through Christ's eyes. We are asked to see them as part of the whole picture in how the church functions to share the mission of God's church. We are admonished not to value one contribution as more valuable than another. Our pastor, the Sunday School teachers, the members of the choir and the pie maker all share valuable gifts that God has given them to work for the good of others. It is the challenge of our church to encourage church members to pray to become certain of their many gifts and to use those gifts God has given to them. Jerry Clower found a way to share his stories and humor to the Glory of God. His mother served her church by drawing members to share a meal and worship in a way no others could. The ladies of our congregation were called to plan, organize and serve other members in a shared meal. In Corinthians we are challenged to appreciate the differences we see in each other and to find opportunities to do good works. There is no room for belittling or hovering with attitudes of greatness. Rather, we are called to remain encouraging in our words, humble in our works and thankful to God for all the wonderful gifts in our congregation. The deacons are no more fine than the sweet eighty year old who volunteers to rock the infants in the nursery. When you see someone serving with joy and doing all they can to glorify God, take the time to voice your thanks and to tell them you see God's light shining in them through their good works. By nature, we love to be encouraged and to know we are appreciated. It is not the pastor's job to accomplish an endless lists of to dos while we sit back in the pew every Sunday and wonder why "so and so" is not attending. The todos exist in a church congregation as opportunities for us to find our own gifts, put them to work and to support and love others. It is a HUGE challenge when our minds are prone to see differences and failures. Where do we go for this transformation in our vision of others in our church family? To Christ who is our center of focus. The cross is centered on the wall of our church to remind us to hold Him as the center of our focus and love.
You know, when I share these thoughts with you, that they are part of my own walk in faith. As I share them with you I am admonishing myself to show gratitude for my gifts by putting them to work and to see only the uniqueness in the gifts fellow Christians offer and to support them through recognition and gratitude.
Dear Heavenly Father,
What a gracious and giving Father you are! You know our uniqueness and shower us with gifts that match our abilities, interests and talents. You take into consideration our limitations and our strengths. Keep us mindful that those gifts are given to share your story, to support Your church and to do good works. Close our mind's eye to criticism and open our minds and hearts to all that can be done through us with You as the center of our lives.
We are filled with gratitude for all you do in each moment of everyday. How amazing you are!
In Jesus' Name,