I’ve discovered one more reason I’m not the perfect pastor–Sunday dinner. Sunday dinner was a special time growing up. My grandmother almost always had Sunday dinner, and she almost never missed church to cook it. When church was over, we’d all head over to my grandmother’s house and there would generally be a decent crowd gathered to share the meal.
The menu was varied from week to week, with the entree usually being one of three: fried chicken, pot roast or smothered round steak. Occasionally, she would slip in homemade chicken ravioli, and in the wintertime, she would make a pot of homemade vegetable beef soup. One of my personal favorites was homemade chicken spaghetti. We didn’t get chicken spaghetti often, maybe once a year, but I still remember that creamy white cheese sauce that clung so closely to the spaghetti. I remember the first time I ordered chicken and spaghetti at Monjuni’s. It was red! Wrong! But I digress…As good as my grandmother’s chicken spaghetti was, Zelda Johnson’s was better. Dang! My mouth is watering! I’m still digressing…
My grandmother always had an abundance of side dishes that were equally delectable: peas, butter beans, creamed corn, fried okra, fresh tomatoes (seasonally, of course), rice and gravy or mashed potatoes. And, who can forget the corn bread (either baked or fried hot water bread) or the fresh (as in homemade) yeast rolls. We mustn’t forget dessert, either. She always had homemade cakes, pies, brownies or cookies. Nothing was ever out of a can. Everything…and I mean everything, was homemade. It was a veritable feast, and it made the Sunday afternoon nap that much sweeter.
I miss those days. But I’m also blessed to have a wife that comes home after church and prepares Sunday dinner (most Sundays anyway). I suppose my grandmother ruined me for Sunday dinner, which brings me to the reason I’m not the perfect pastor. I dislike (I want to say “hate,” but I’m not sure it’s nice to say “hate”) going “out” to lunch on Sundays. I prefer going home and eating a sandwich to going to restaurants on Sunday. Sundays out at restaurants test my metal as a disciple. First, I’m usually pretty tired. Secondly, I’m hungry. Trust me, preaching three services on Sunday morning is not conducive to grabbing an apple or even a Snickers between services. I arrive at church at 6:30 a.m., on Sunday. It’s a long time between 6:30 and Noon, so though hunger is a relative thing, let’s just say I’m ready to eat. Tired and hungry don’t go well together. I can be cranky (I told you, I’m not the perfect pastor).
Pair tired and hungry with generally large crowds and perhaps even having to wait for a table (and, don’t even get me started on customer service), and it’s a recipe for me being less than personable. I don’t like being less than personable. Vanessa doesn’t like me being less than personable, either. I try to keep Vanessa happy. I fail sometimes. She loves me anyway. I am also reminded of Paul’s admonition, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17), and I think that being less than personable is not a good witness for Christ. I don’t like disappointing Jesus. I do sometimes. He loves me anyway. Seriously, it’s just better for me to avoid restaurants for Sunday dinner.
I’m really glad that my children and grandchildren like coming to my house. I’m really blessed that Vanessa doesn’t mind preparing lunch (most Sundays). I find great comfort in being surrounded with family on Sunday afternoons, sitting around the table, sharing stories, catching up, loving each other. When all the kids were home, many Sunday dinners were spent making fun of the things I said in the sermon, or more likely making fun of the WAY I said some things in the sermon (hey! at least they were listening). It gets loud at times (especially when everyone is here), but it’ll only be loud for a little while. There will come a day when they’ll grow up, have families of their own, and these Sunday dinners will only come sporadically. I don’t long for those days.
Yes, I know. It’s easy to be a disciple, to walk in holiness when we’re surrounded by people that love and encourage us. The greater challenge is to walk in holiness when the enemy is in full frontal assault. But, let’s not discount the wisdom in avoiding those situations in which we know the enemy will confront us. I am also reminded of Paul’s instruction to young Timothy: “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:22-24).
Of course, you do understand that I’m always open to an invitation to someone’s house for Sunday dinner. About the only thing better than coming home after church to Sunday dinner is being invited to experience Sunday dinner at someone else’s house! That way, I don’t have to do the dishes. Yet another reason I’m not the perfect pastor!
Until next time, keep looking up…