Can You Say, “Los Ranchos Fusion?”

by Sep 4, 2018Reflections Blog0 comments

The only thing I know about Indian food is that I love eating it. If I visit a food court offering the world’s many cuisines, I’ll end up eating Indian food every time. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I just can’t get enough.

Well, that has changed. I don’t need to leave the house any more to find my favorite Chicken Tikka Masala or Dal Makhani. Thanks to YouTube I can make it right at home. A thousand chefs –grandmothers with family specialties passed on for generations and cooking professionals alike—are excited to give me their favorite recipes and show me exactly how to cook them to perfection.

It’s the second part of this in which the magic lies. If you only give me a list of ingredients, I’d never know when to add the coriander powder, cumin, and crushed tomatoes to the ginger and garlic sauté. But when you show me when to add it, and you show me how high I should turn the flame, and you let me listen to what the ingredients should sound like in the pan, then I actually have a chance to make something truly delicious.

The best part is I can rewind the video if I don’t get it right the first time. In fact, I can rewind it ten times if I need to. The best chefs and grandmothers in the world are still there, saying the same thing, chopping the same onion, sprinkling the same turmeric powder. With a little practice, and, ok, a lot of mistakes, I can eventually pull it off.

If I served you my Chicken Tikka Masala and put it next to one made in a restaurant, you might not be able to tell the difference! Well, I’m getting a little haughty now.

I Don’t Need to Guess

The point is I don’t need to guess. I still need to pay close attention to what I’m seeing and hearing on the video, but at least I have someone showing me what to do. Of course, it would be a lot quicker if the chef were standing next to me, so I could ask questions and get assurance that I’m doing it right, but trial and error goes along way too. (More about trial and error in October’s article.) Eventually, I know I’ve done it well by the way it tastes, and by asking the ultimate question, “Would I serve this to my guests?”

“Look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.” (John 4:35)

When I reflect upon my foray into Indian cooking, it reminds me of the age we are in as Christ’s Church. There are new ways of practicing one’s faith that are emerging in our time that would be helpful to learn. Indeed, if the Church were able to learn them, those forms and practices might be a ‘delicious blessing’ to our neighbors who are searching for meaning and love. If all goes well, the people with whom we share these forms might even exclaim as we have, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8).

It is no secret that without predicting or asking for it, the Church has re-entered an age of mission. The work we must do is tremendously demanding, but I think that it can also be tremendously fun, like learning how to cook a new type of cuisine.

Thankfully, we have something better than YouTube to teach us. We have Christ, our Master, of course, and we also have one another with whom we may share new ‘recipes’ that we never thought we could make before.

Spiritual Cuisine

The real test of our work, however, will be in the future. It is all too easy to default to the work of improving the church as we already know it (which is also exceedingly important work, I admit). But the age of mission into which we are thrust requires creating new forms and practices of church that do not yet exist, all to the end that we might lead people in the way of Christ.

As our presbytery celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall, I’m excited that we remain committed to be a learning and missional community that is preparing for God’s future. With leadership from many groups and individuals (e.g., Healthy Congregations Team, Cyclical, consultants for both Church Transformation and Spiritual Formation), we are investing in the work of both improving the church we already know and creating forms and practices of church that do not yet exist.

In a way, we are learning to make ‘spiritual cuisines’ that others may have already mastered while at the same time we are creating entirely new cuisines that will connect with people who are seeking meaning and community but have little interest in current forms of church. Our endeavors will take experimentation, great trust in each other, and uncommon faith in God, but we can do it, even as the saints before us have done.

Can you say, “Los Ranchos Fusion?” Please pass the cumin.

Tom