I’ve been tasked with making the chili for a family gathering in a few days, but I know I need to start early. I gather my ingredients from a local farmer’s market and begin the first step: dicing the onions. The pungent yet intensely savory aroma stings my eyes, but I know they’ll sweeten up, given some time and heat. I push the onions into the pre-heated cast iron dutch oven, a tool of the trade that has been in my family for generations. The onions sizzle as soon as they drop into the hot oil, and I douse them in a generous wave of kosher salt. A quick stir with the wooden spoon and a tap tap on the side of the pot, and I move onto creating a spice blend of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, and many other secret ingredients recorded in an antique cookbook, stained with mistakes and splattered in love. Another stir of the onions, and they’re beginning to look different: translucent with hints of what is to come. I gather the rest of my ingredients: grass-fed ground beef, tomato paste & fresh tomato puree, pre-soaked beans, and sweet late-season corn. I stir the onions again, and suddenly, they’ve taken on the color of caramel. I tip in the spice blend, and the kitchen explodes in flavor, the essence of each singing sweetly in harmony with the onions. I add the rest of the ingredients one-by-one, and before my eyes, the skillet is filled with nourishing, filling, and delicious chili to be shared with family and friends. But it’s not finished. I cover the dutch oven and carry it to the fridge, and within three days, the entire pot has transformed. The flavors have melded and mixed, becoming deeper and richer than ever before, and we all partake in its wholesome and sustaining nature.
As I survey my place within the community of faith, I cannot help but understand transformational ministry as being grounded in grace, where we too, are stained with mistakes and splattered in love. We learn from one another how we walk with the Divine and one another in transformational ministry; we take cues from what we have seen and tasted on personal and communal levels, and we review recipes for small groups and worship services. We hold all things sacred, including the tradition of the spiritual guides before us, and with expectancy, we await the transformation of the world within and around us. We allow the fire of the Spirit to work within and among us, varied as we are, whether salty or sweet, pungent or subtle. Just as the heat transformed the onions, we too, are translucent to the Divine, who orchestrates a future we can only imagine. We anticipate great wonders as the spice of life is incorporated into our daily practice, so we no longer can recognize where we end and where God begins. And when darkness comes, and there is nothing left to do but worship, we await the renewal of resurrection where all our disjointed parts come together as one, new and renewed, always and forever sustaining us until Love comes down once more.