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Ki ngombo. Sunday I gave my best effort to pronounce this West African word which translates as okra. I then shared this excerpt from a 2020 article written by Nikesha Williams:

“Gumbo, in a sense, is the best part of the worst moments of our history.

It is the legacy of both make-do cabin cooking in the slave quarters

and the opulence of fine dining during parties at the plantation house.

It is the syncretism of culture, race, and class,

but most importantly, it is the lasting connection between kin.”

Okra was used as a thickener. When okra wasn't in season they borrowed from local Native Americans who taught them to use powdered sassafras leaves, better known as filé (also used as a thickening). Roux, adapted from the French, is introduced much later.

The Spaniards introduced us to the “Holy Trinity,” onion, bell pepper, and celery. There’s also a hint of Caribbean influence, and whatever your grandmother added.

Gumbo has a rich history of inclusion and a willingness to share and adapt. How does our faith community compare to gumbo? Are we adaptable? Willing to learn from one another and share from one another — even those who aren’t like us?

Throughout scripture we see Jesus creating a space for everyone. The religious leaders and the outcasts, the rising stars and the downtrodden are all invited to sit at the same table and experience the same grace and acceptance. Dare we, who claim to be followers of Jesus, be so bold?

Pastor Jo

March 15, 2023

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This past Sunday we eavesdropped on a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and found the beloved verse, John 3:16--"For God so loved the world..."

Some of us remember “Rainbow Man” from the 1970’s who appeared at major sporting events wearing a rainbow wig and holding a “John 3:16” sign. His determination in making certain everyone see his message led to his conviction for multiple kidnapping felony charges--crimes which he claimed were ploys to get more publicity in sharing the “Gospel.” He is now serving three life sentences in prison.

How tragic it is that the Rainbow Man did not include John 3:17 where Jesus reminds us that he did not come to the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved.

In contrast, Quarterback Tim Tebow wore eye black bearing the inscription "John 3:16" during the 2012 NFL Championship Game. It has been reported that, in the course of the game, 90 million people googled John 3:16. And no one was kidnapped!

As we continue this journey from Ash Wednesday to Resurrection Sunday, how are we choosing to offer space for folks like Nicodemus who need time to process what a new relationship with God looks like?

We all know that the foundation of a good gumbo is the roux. Even though there are only a few steps in making an roux, the main ingredient is patience. It is the same with "making disciples." How patient we must be both with ourselves and with those who are struggling with faith. For truly, God so loves all of us.

May those who look into our eyes see the acceptance that comes from no condemnation, and may how we treat one another be a sign of God’s unconditional love.

Pastor Jo

March 6, 2023

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Pastor and author Jonathan Augustine suggests that we are not meant to be a melting pot where we are all blended until we are all the same. Instead we are like gumbo! Each one of us is a unique ingredient, and, because of our uniqueness, each one of us brings great value to the whole recipe.

So many of us want to either blend in or to stand out. We want the creativity that comes from a variety of points of view, but we prefer that everyone sees things from our point of view! It sounds as though we are caught in a conundrum, but maybe what we really want is a place where the love is bold enough to hold us all together, as many and as different as we are, as one body— where you see me and I see you, and where each one of us--along with the Holy Trinity, of course!-- is a necessary ingredient for the perfect recipe.

This Lenten Season we are taking Augustine’s analogy of gumbo and using it as a metaphor for what it looks like to truly be the body of Christ — to be bold in living our unique lives so that others can feel safe in being who they uniquely are, asking questions, staying curious, both blending in and standing all the ingredients of a good gumbo!

Let us love Jesus and love others until there are no others… only sisters and brothers in Christ.

Pastor Jo

February 27, 2023

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