Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday November 10, 2009

He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet, Proverbs 27:7

Do you like shepherd’s pie? Perhaps a better question is: Do you know what shepherd’s pie is? Basically it is a form of stew baked with a crisp potato topping, a favourite dollop of which goes down well, both culturally and digestively, in British pubs. If you weren’t sure what shepherd’s pie is, then you will be even more confused over its nomenclature. “Shepherd’s” pie, as its name suggests, is made with lamb.

Then the question arises: “Can I make it with good Alberta beef?” Why not? It is frequently made with English beef, but it is no longer “shepherd’s” pie, it is now “cottage” pie. This should translate adequately into Canadian. But now our daughter has confused the issue even more by changing the ingredients. How much more North American ignorance is going to continue to adulterate the famed English Shepherd’s Pie?

She didn’t try to make it with lamb or beef, but with chicken, and even added corn and beans. This is not only a mockery of shepherd’s or cottage pie; neither name can be awarded to this travesty of British culinary culture. Her husband suggested it should be called “farmer’s” pie because of the inclusion of so many extra ingredients. Perhaps it could be salvaged if some of those foreign ingredients were omitted by calling it “cluckery” pie!

However, I doubt that this pie, whatever it is called and however it is made, would taste any the less great to the hungry soul in our text. A rose by any other name smells as sweet, and the same could be said for shepherd’s, cottage or cluckery pie. The real travesty is not naming the pie, it is that a billion of the world’s population goes hungry while much of the remainder feasts on delicacies—perhaps even refusing “honey.” How can we respond to such overwhelming need?

The importance of helping one at a time is illustrated by the story of a child who noticed hundreds of starfish left on the beach by the receding tide. As he started throwing them back into the sea, a passer-by commented that he was making little difference to the vast numbers. The boy threw another starfish into the foam as he replied: “It made a difference to that one.” We can all offer the local equivalent of shepherd’s pie to one family in need.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

You may recall the story. Samuel was looking among Jesse’s family for a new king of Israel which the Lord had told him to anoint to replace King Saul. Jesse’s finest, strapping sons looked the part to Samuel, but it was David, a strip of an adolescent that God chose. Perhaps his “ruddy” complexion hid his acne; probably not. Nothing like fresh air and sheep smell to clear it up! Either way, God was looking for a suitable heart, not smooth skin.

All I can say after reading today’s text is: thank goodness. If God was looking for stature, physique or pock free skin, I’d never have made it into his call list. The only wanted list I ever made was the local constabulary traffic division on a regular basis, but, glad to say, it never became a permanent relationship. The only other recourse to desirability was deep pockets, and mine were rarely deeper than David’s would have been. Sheep minding was the lowest rung of the ladder.

All I had left was my heart, and Ann eagerly seized that. Still not sure why she did then, or even less likely, why she still hangs on to it! Especially after nearly sixty years since we first met, she knows in detail what is wrong with it. I guess that’s the mystery of love, it perseveres beyond the defects of the heart, even in human relationships.

What was it that God saw in David’s heart? Certainly not sinlessness, as David’s subsequent biography reveals. If that was God’s pre-requisite for David or me, we would have joined David’s other brothers. For David, it must have been the real intent of the heart, not his later actions. 1 Samuel 13:14 records that the Lord “sought out a man after his own heart,” and that was David.

God was attracted to David because, despite the impurity of his heart on occasions, David thought, cared about and loved those things that were close to God’s heart. The record shows that David’s attitude always led to genuine remorse following failure. The need to spruce up our appearance to be acceptable to others and the rueful awareness of the frailty of our hearts, must make this story the consolation and hope for us all in our desire to please God.