‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8-9
I am in a new place. Following the United Methodist itinerant system, I have been appointed to a new congregation. I couldn’t be happier.
Christ United Methodist Church is a lovely congregation in Roswell, Georgia. I had preached here once before, filling in on a Sunday, and loved it. But I really lost my heart when I learned they had just begun a community garden. Any church that prioritizes growing things and feeding people is alright in my book. I feel very blessed to be here and grateful to be a part of our UM system in which our leaders thoughtfully try to make matches between gifts and needs, churches and pastors. Together, we all pray that God will be at work – in the moving and the staying – and that these new partnerships will bear fruit.
Newness can be both exciting and painful. Change can never come without at least some combination of both things. There is always loss. There is always growth. In the process, we begin to realize just how much less control we have than we like to imagine. We are used to putting our lives in order in the way we want; creating as much comfort as we can while still meeting our obligations to the world around us. When we put our beliefs and expectations in place, our world is rocked when they are forced to shift.
Change, however, offers more than just occasional benefits. It is essential to our presence among the living. I have watched my garden this summer as seeds have become seedlings then fully grown plants that bear fruit, offering back seeds of their own. Such changes are needed for our survival. Were we never to experience the momentous turn of events that brings us into the world, or the transformations that come from leaving infancy and moving through many further stages, then we would never have a life. Growing up, we experience the pain of our bones stretching, but we gain the benefits that come with maturity and the ability to reach tall shelves.
In my plants, as in my life, change is how I know God is at work. If we want to get technical about it, I suppose there is never a moment in our lives when God is not up to something. There isn’t an instant when we are not growing, when nothing is coming around the bend. I admit, however, that I love sensing the excitement of God’s presence when it can almost be felt in the air, in the breeze that whispers of something new coming. If we have given our lives to God, there is nothing to do but stand on our toes and let the wind take us.
I am making another, smaller change. Though I am not yet finished with the Bass Family and Friends Cookbook, it is time to start something new. I’m going to begin making recipes from Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook by Myra Goodman with Linda Holland and Pamela McKinstry. I’ll keep writing – and printing - the recipes from the Bass Family and Friends Cookbook until I have exhausted it, but I wanted to start this new book while lots of fresh produce was becoming available. Veggies and fruit are now starting to flow across the tables of farmers markets and roadside stands. I want to take advantage.
Recently we had a marvelous meal of Carrot and Ginger Soup and Cornbread Salad, with Basil-Blackberry Crumble for dessert. The crumble comes from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and can be found online here. The recipe for Cornbread Salad is below.
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix 9-12 strips bacon
½ c. sweet pickles, chopped 1 bell pepper, chopped fine
4 med. tomatoes, chopped 1 med. onion, chopped
1 c. mayonnaise ¼ c. sweet pickle juice
Prepare corn muffin mix as directed on box. Fry bacon until crisp; crumble. Lightly toss chopped vegetables and bacon together. Set aside. Combine the mayonnaise and sweet pickle juice. Layer cornbread with vegetable mixture. Drizzle half the mayonnaise mixture on top of the vegetables. Repeat the layers. Chill before serving. – Rhonda Bass