Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Isaiah 40:1
I’m not sure who said it first, but I’ve always heard that the job of a pastor is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I take this charge seriously. So it is with this unusual perspective that I make what I consider to be the quintessential comfort food: chicken and dumplings. Although I rarely eat it and this was my first time to make it, in my mind it is chicken and dumplings is the food equivalent of being wrapped in a blanket on a cold day.
So I made this meal on a cold day (no other kind being available this January). I used chicken breasts instead of the fryer because they were simpler and because I had them. Cutting out the dumplings was fun and easier than I had imagined it¸ but the many that I made and put into the broth became a few large ones in the pot. I had no complaints, though. These and the blond brownies made for perfect winter food.
Most of us may not perceive this, but comfort is very easily come by. Our lives are enormously comfortable, whether we realize it or not. Most of us reading this will have four walls and a roof, and even if we are stretched a bit thin by the end of the month, or even if we have credit card debt, or even if we are wondering how to pay for our kids sporting equipment or school supplies, we’re probably getting by. We are likely not wondering where our next meal will come from, or if it will come at all.
Being a pastor – which I hope means being firmly invested in reality – I have to be honest about how I live. It’s not that hard.
So whether I mean to or not, I frequently take the latter half of the above advice. I see most of us as relatively comfortable, and if my job is not exactly to afflict, then it is at least to try to nudge good church-goers toward just a little bit of discomfort; a little more knowledge about the world outside, a little awkward contact with people who are different, a little more willingness to give beyond what is easy. I want us to be uncomfortable with the parts of the status quo that need changing, both in the world and in ourselves. I want us to be dissatisfied enough to act, to work, to change.
As a result, I might actually forget that God has offered to be our comfort, even when we’re not all that afflicted. Last night, after I read my son his bedtime story and we said our goodnight prayers, I tucked him into bed. In his footy pajamas, he climbed under the covers and I pulled his Thomas the Tank Engine blanket up to his chin. He was the very picture of security and well-being. I wonder what his life would be like without moments like these, without the safety of his Teddy, his racecar bed and the unconscious confidence that Mom and Dad are outside his door, keeping the world at bay.
Surely we, God’s children, need such moments ourselves. A lot of them. Though we are far more likely to think about it – and less likely to admit it – we deeply need to be wrapped in the security and warmth that comes from the care of our heavenly parent. Just like the warm food that goes into our bodies, this comfort becomes our strength that carries us into an uncomfortable world so that we can make it better.
Chicken and Dumplings
1 fryer salt & pepper
½ c. water 1 can cream of chicken soup
1 ½ c. flour 1 egg
Boil chicken until done. Pick meat off bones; then put meat in chicken broth. Mix flour, water, and beaten egg in bowl. Roll dough on floured board. Cut & put in boiling chicken broth. Cook approximately 15 minutes. About 5 minutes before done, add soup to chicken and dumplings. – Ann Bass
Blond Brownies (quick and easy)
1 lb. brown sugar 4 eggs
2 c. Bisquick 2 c. chopped pecans
Mix and bake at 350o for 20-25 minutes – Wyleen Bass Williams