In my childhood years, my mother Lucile would spend the better part of a day chopping up onions, celery, and bell peppers. I can still hear the TAP TAP TAP of the knife on the cutting board. Later in the long process, her aluminum cauldron on the stovetop would come to a low boil. The house would begin to smell like onions, garlic, and bay leaves. Into the pot: okra, crab meat, and later on, oysters. The whole menagerie would cook down for what seemed like hours. It was hard to wait until dinner time, but a few stolen pieces of hot french bread and butter would usually make the waiting bearable. Then, at last, soup's on.
Gumbo was a staple of my childhood growing up on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. So maybe that's why it is also my favorite working metaphor for learning to listen to the witness of scripture. Like a deep seafood soup, scripture listening takes some time to cook down to a meal of discernement flavored with faithfulness. And likewise, the necessary, traditional ingredients are many. Each one matters.
This Sunday, we finish our short stint through the sacraments -- BATH, MEAL, BOOK -- with a taste of what it means for us as Presbyterian disciples of Jesus to be steward's of the good Book. We'll serve up a helping of Luke 4:16-30 -- Jesus first "sermon," in his hometown church building. The story has all the needed ingredients for a good gospel gumbo: the rich promise that the Spirit of God speaks to us, again and again, through the pages of the scripture. Laissez les bons temps rouler!