A Lesson in a Casserole

The service is almost over and already the smells from the kitchen are drifting through the sanctuary. It is fellowship meal Sabbath, and the thought of having more of Mrs. Brown's famous casserole adds to the growling of your stomach. When you enter the fellowship hall and glance at the table loaded with salads and breads, you see her dish right there in the middle.

There's a spot saved on your plate for this delicious treat. This time you decide to take a serving from the center, which has always been just perfect, and then on impulse, you reach for one of the corner pieces as well — just the perfect combination of crispy and juicy. Mrs. Brown has done it again — a masterpiece.

Back at your table, it's time to enjoy. As you place that first bite in your mouth, the anticipation builds to a crescendo — but something is wrong. The taste is so flat, the gluten doesn't taste right, the nuts almost taste stale. Maybe it was just that bite, maybe the corner piece will be what you have been anticipating, but that bite is worse than the first. In fact, even though Mrs. Brown is sitting right at your table, you jump up and rush to the bathroom.

What was wrong? As you rinse out your mouth it hits you — all the salt for the whole casserole was in that last bite.

Have you ever thought of the church and the community that way? Jesus described His church as salt, though He described the salt as losing its flavor. In a sense, salt all clumped together is as bad as salt that has lost its flavor. Both are useless and need to be thrown out. But salt used properly makes all the difference in the world.

Many of our Northwest members are providing wonderful examples. My mind, of course, goes to Oregon Conference communities, like Estacada where Shirley Lippincott coordinates a variety of choirs to feature in a city-wide Christmas Festival of Choirs.

Or Springfield where for years Jim McHan, a doctor, has brought together health professionals from around the Eugene/Springfield community to hold an event called Your Experience in Better Living.

Just this past year, the Meadow Glade Church in Battle Ground, Washington, remodeled a retirement home to create Center Point, a free medical clinic for the northern part of Washington's Clark County.

Portland City Center Sanctuary has also become salt in a local community housing project. The members have treated residents there to birthday parties, help with a community garden, support of physical needs and, most of all, friendship.

And then there is Molly Geddis, who saw a need in her community and developed a ministry called Healthy Heart Teams, which has since spread throughout our conference and into three other conference territories.

Salt, all by itself, can be disgusting, not unlike a church that keeps God's lifesaving properties to itself. However, take some of our enthusiastic Adventist members, stir them thoroughly into the community, and you'll discover a special flavor. It's the flavor of eternal life in Jesus Christ — at the very center of our message and mission.

Pull quote: "Salt used properly makes all the difference in the world."

March 01, 2012 / Editorial