Heaping Tablespoon of Grease (Grace)

Celebration of a New Ministry – Bruce Bonner
Ephesians 4: 11-16
St. Cuthbert, Houston, Texas

Many people probably think this about their grandmothers, but my Grandma was a great cook.
My Grandma was a native Texan, a native Houstonian to be exact.
Yet my grandmother’s family had German roots.

My Grandma knew how to make a mean German potato salad.
And she actually knew how to use a meat grinder, grinding her own chicken salad with leftover chicken and some celery.
I used to stand beside her elbow and watch her do her magic at the stove.

Now on the corner of the stove, my Grandma always kept a silver container, most likely made of stainless steel or tin.
This container by the stove had a one word description embossed on the side with the label:
Grease.

So whenever my Grandma was frying up some bacon, after she had taken the crisp bacon out with a fork, then she would carefully pour the remaining contents into the grease container.
The silver container of grease that always sat beside the stove had a strainer at the top that would catch the little bacon pieces.
And then the liquid grease would seep into the container.
Once the liquid grease had cooled, it congealed into a solid, a solid of pure fat.

skillet

Now whenever my Grandma was cooking up vegetables in her cast iron skillet, she would open up that can of congealed bacon grease.
While green beans or squash or black-eyed peas were cooking up, she would pull a large tablespoon out of the drawer.
She would take that tablespoon and scoop up a large, heaping mound of solid fat.
Then I can still see her banging against the side of the skillet with that spoon, banging until that scoop of bacon grease plopped into the skillet of vegetables.

I would then ask my grandmother:
“Grandma, how do you know how much bacon grease to put in those green beans?
And she would reply:
“Enough.”
And then my Grandma would cackle with joyful laughter and say:
“Enough – so it tastes real, real good!”

Our Lord Jesus Christ plops enough grace into our skillet – so that life tastes real, real good.

You see, the Apostle Paul writes his Letter to the Ephesians.
And in his letter, the Apostle Paul teaches us that each of us is given grace, grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Now when I think about grace,
When I think about measuring the gift of Jesus,
I do not think about using a tiny, little teaspoon of measure.
Instead, when I think about the measure of the gift of Jesus, I think about pulling a large tablespoon out of the drawer, a heaping tablespoon with no regard to ounces.

Because in the beginning of the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus plops into our skillet, grace upon grace.
When Jesus has a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus tells her that he is living water, not measured in cups, but a spring gushing up to eternal life.
Jesus promises us a life beyond measure, an abundant life.
And abundant life in Jesus tastes real, real good.

Now when I attempt to cook (which is not very often) – it can be painful to watch.
I am definitely not the graceful cook that my grandmother was.
My Grandma used to heap up an abundant amount to plop into the skillet, with no regard for the use of a measuring cup.
But I am so awkward in my cooking that I try to measure things exactly, to the point where I try to fill the measuring cup so that the liquid ends up exactly at the one cup mark, not one hair more.
When I cook, I am afraid that I do not trust in grace upon grace, grace without regard to the marks on a measuring cup.
Sometimes I do not trust in gushing grace and love, according to the measure of Christ’s immeasurable gift.

St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church has called a new rector: Bruce Bonner.
And, Bruce, you already know from the journey you have taken thus far that Jesus Christ plops enough grace into our skillet so that it tastes real, real good.

Yet the challenge for me and the challenge for you and the challenge for all of us, is to realize that God gives each of us more than enough grace.
God gives us grace according to the measure of Christ’s abundant and immeasurable gift.

Therefore, we are given enough grace so that we are to give grace to each other.
We give out grace to others, not miserly using a tiny, little measuring teaspoon.
But in ministry, we give out grace using a heaping tablespoon, gushing up without regard to the recipe, plopping in a huge amount of love.
In ministry, we give out grace and love – so that life tastes real, real good.

As I drive around the neighborhood where St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church is planted, I see that you have been given not just enough, but more than enough.
The demographics around this church demonstrate an abundance, an abundance of people and of land and of resources, an abundance of grace.

There are enough people.
Let me say that again:
There are enough people around this area so that you can double and triple in size, according to the measure of Christ’s abundant gift.
There are more than enough people in this area who do not know that God’s grace and love is abundant and heaping and gushing up.
There are more than enough people in this area, so many people that you do not have to steal sheep from the Church of Christ across the street.

In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul teaches us that each of us is given grace, grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
And the measure of Christ’s gift is immeasurable and abundant and heaping and gushing, more than enough.

My Grandma knew that vegetables always taste better with a heaping portion of grace.
And that is your mission and ministry here at St. Cuthbert:
To plop a big, heaping tablespoon of love and grace into the skillet of west Houston,
Enough so that life in Jesus – tastes real, real good.

AMEN.

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