This past weekend, at Highlands, we just started our new weekend message series called "Table for 2". In this series we are looking at the social gatherings, dinners, wedding feasts, and food metaphors that Jesus invokes and participates in throughout his ministry. Jesus came to teach, to preach, to heal, to do miracles, to die, to come back to life again, to SAVE us - and to eat.
What's fascinating about my research as I have been preparing for this series, is to notice that whenever Jesus wants to highlight abundance, joy, intimacy and life, He tends to participate in or tell a story about a large meal, a dinner party, or a successful vine or tree bearing fruit (ie: the parable of the wedding banquet, the wedding in Cana, Matthew's dinner party, Zacheaus' dinner party, "a good tree bears good fruit"). Contrarily, whenever Jesus wants to focus on death, legalism, scarcity or despondency, he tends to invoke the image or, or experience the under-abundance of food (ie: the pharisees focussing on Jesus' fasting, a withering fig tree, the devil tempting Jesus to turn a stone into only one loaf of bread..). What we have tried to be clear about, at the outset in this series, is that the main theme isn't food or drink, it's God's "brimming-over" dynamic of life and love.
In preparation for this new series, I just watched an HBO documentary on the two star Michelin chef named Paul Lieberandt (See Lieberandt's picture above). I totally recommend the documentary. Paul's story is an incredible one. He began as a cooking protege in London, studying under the best chefs in the world. Then, Paul moved to New York and started a gourmet restaurant in a middle range hamburger-type restaurant. The middle range restaurant appreciated Paul's expertise, but didn't feel it was a perfect match. Paul then moves to another restaurant, "Gilt" (maybe the name needed work...) that strove to spend lots of money and exude flash in attracting patrons -That restaurant also failed. Finally, Paul makes his mark on the food world with an experimental restaurant called "Croton" in Tribecca. The famous New York Times food critic, Butin, finally gave Paul a mark of three stars. The key to the last restaurant is Paul's hand in glove-like relationship with the owner - and commitment to excellence, creativity and success (ie, the chef and the owner both had the same goals...)
The main theme of Lieberant's career and success revolves around one single theme: "Cooks must Cook." In Lieberandt's own words, "You wouldn't believe the number of chefs who never cook. They are never even in a restaurant. They are never around food. They just come into the restaurant once a day, look around, and then go home. If you are going to cook, you must cook. Simple as that!"
I have been thinking that this same maxim "Cooks must cook" as it applies to ministry. If you are a pastor, you must pastor. If you are a preacher, you must preach. If you are a minister, you must minister. If you are a leader, you must lead - hands on. From my own standpoint I will say that Lieberandt isn't the only one who notices that "cooks don't cook". I have known many, many pastors through the years who get to a certain point in their career, and they stop pastoring, they stop preaching, they stop studying, they stop ministering, they just stop..."Cooks must cook - pastors must pastor".
And, of course, Jesus - God, would have agreed with Paul Lieberandt. If you are going to God, then God. If you are going to Save then Save. If you are going to Minister, then Minister. Jesus, fully-God, fully-human, came into the world, to not just play at being God, to not just lord over people but to be the Lord of people. He came to actually be God. To intervene, to interact, to inter-relate with us...to attend dinner parties, where he rubbed shoulders with young men like Paul Lieberandt, who then became fully devoted followers, with or without their Michelin stars ...
All for Now,