Sunday, May 24, 2015


A few hours ago, I posted a somewhat snarky update on Facebook, that we were celebrating Pentecost by eating Hollandaise sauce, that glorious French concoction that makes me really glad (among other reasons) that God has been working throughout history to redeem what went wrong at the Tower of Babel.

It was snarky, but it was also true. And, thinking of Hollandaise always reminds me of a favorite passage in my favorite book:
Food these days is often identified as the enemy. Butter, salt, sugar, eggs are all out to get you. And yet at our best we know better. Butter is ... well, butter: it glorifies almost everything it touches. Salt is the sovereign perfecter of all flavors. Eggs are, pure and simple, one of the wonders of the world. And if you put them all together, you get not sudden death, but Hollandaise - which in its own way is not one bit less a marvel than the Gothic arch, the computer chip, or a Bach fugue.

In case you've missed me waxing eloquent about this book before (it's been a few months), that was from the preface to the second edition of The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon (p xxvii, to be exact).

You know what I love most about this book? It's the fact that he can simultaneously make me long both for heaven and for earth, to whet my appetites for both more, because both are part and parcel of an appetite that can only be satisfied by the glory of God.

The rest of that quote:
If this book has any claim to make, therefore, it is that food is precisely an epiphany of the greatness of our nature -- or, to use the most accurate theological word of all, it is a sacrament, a real presence of the gorgeous mystery of our being. People have responded to The Supper of the Lamb, I think, because after all the modern reductionism about food ("Food is only a necessity," "Food is nothing but nourishment"), it gave them solid reasons for glorying in the truth they had suspected all along; namely, that food was life, and that life was good...
Food, like all other triumphs of human nature, is evidence of civilization - of that priestly gift by which we lift the whole world into the exchanges of the Ultimate City which even God himself longs to see it become.

...We are not simply the users of creation; we are, all of us, called to be its offerers. The world will be lifted, as it was always meant to be, by our priestly love. We can, you see, take it with us. It will precisely because we loved this Old Jerusalem of a world enough to bear it in our bones that its textures will ascend when we rise; it will be because our eyes have relished the earth that the colors of its countries will compel our hearts forever. The bread and pastry, the cheeses, the wines, and the songs go into the Supper of the Lamb because we do: it is our love that brings the City home.

I am reminded of the old hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and the line, "and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of his glory and grace..." I know what the song is trying to say, but you know what's remarkable about seeing things "in the light of his glory and grace"? Everything on earth doesn't grow dim; it comes into sharper focus.

Pain comes into sharper focus because it reminds us of the seriousness of sin.

Joy comes into sharper focus because it points us to the Giver and the greatest of all joys.

Life comes into sharper focus because there is meaning to every moment, large and small. There is movement, there is a purpose, and there is a telos.

There are a few hours left in this day: don't waste your Pentecost! Make some Hollandaise, make some curry, heck, order a pizza and have some wine with it (yay, Italy!). Consider doing it with some friends. And give thanks to the one who designed all these cultures and will bring all of these amazing flavors together in the ultimate Supper of the Lamb.

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