Pass the…Soup

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible (Hebrews 11:1-3, Common English Bible).

This is part 8 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

This fall, at First United Methodist in Sweeny Texas we began a new Wednesday evening program we are calling “Refuel.” It is a fellowship meal that precedes both choir and Wednesday night Bible study. Since it’s inception I have been the principle cook (that isn’t a complaint, I have enjoyed doing it). And, most of the meals have consisted of a pot of  some variety of soup.

Like most churches, we advertise these kinds of events and usually say what kind of soup we will be having in our newsletter and bulletin. Though I am not cooking this week, tomorrow night will be shrimp gumbo.

One of the first weeks I made up a pot of soup from a recipe I found called “Great Bean Soup.” Several people read the advertisement as “Green Bean Soup.” To say they were skeptical would probably be an understatement.

Still, despite their skepticism, they came to “Refuel” that night. I am not sure if it was because they had faith in my ability as a soup cook or if they took me at my word (in other words, had faith) that I put meat in my soups. Or maybe, it was a way to get refueled for the next day. I can’t say exactly what it was, but despite skepticism, people came and ate “Great Bean Soup” and not “Green Bean Soup.” ( I actually think green bean soup might not be bad.

I know that for some families (not mine), soup is a staple of the Thanksgiving table. One recipe in my soup file is “Cranberry Chicken Soup.” I first found the recipe in a magazine featuring a Thanksgiving menu. There it was titled, “Cranberry Turkey Soup.” I’ve already mentioned having it at “Refuel” later this month. People are skeptical again.

I met a woman in one of my previous churches who told me her family is one of those families. The kind of soup was even specific. It was always corn chowder.

The point is, for some families, perhaps yours, some kind of soup is a traditional part of the Thanksgiving table. I certainly don’t mind including it here as a number of the things we are passing this month are not on anyone’s Thanksgiving table.

When I was laying out my plans for this blog series I wrote down “Pass the…Soup” and made a note with it, “thankful for faith.” As the date started to get closer I started questioning what I might have meant. I am still not sure.

I do know this, for many in the world soup isn’t just a side dish for a Thanksgiving feast. It is a necessity to live. For most of my life I have not been a fan of soup. I am still not crazy about soups that are more of a broth base. My general preference is for cream soups. So, the soup many people exist on, I wouldn’t be a fan.

But for them, they eat the soup they have, and have faith it will give them the nutrition they need to make it through another day. And, in many cases, they are thankful even for the little they have.

The writer of Hebrews reminds this in our lesson for today. Faith is all about what we can’t see. What we can see came into existence because of what we can’t see. We can’t see God and yet we worship in faith. What we can see is evidence of God’s work in the world around us. Yet at the same time, we, by faith give credit for what we can see to God. Evidence is really not present.

Soup is kind of like that. Often times, there may not be much to look at in a bowl of soup. We might not see any meat or really much of anything else. And many people, accept on faith, this is going to give them what they need to get them through another day. Perhaps a good Thanksgiving project would be to make sure someone has a little more to go into that soup. In doing so then perhaps we would be giving a bit of evidence to the nutritional value they accept on faith.

As we sit at the Thanksgiving table, would someone please pass the soup?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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