Pass the…Cranberry Sauce

Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many.  We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. Certainly the body isn’t one part but many (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, Common English Bible).

You are the body of Christ and parts of each other (1 Corinthians 12:27, Common English Bible).

This is part 14 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

I love cranberry sauce. I always have. It may be my favorite food on the Thanksgiving table. I know many of you don’t share that love. I understand that. There are at least a few food on the table each of us might find we don’t care for but we will talk about that more in the days ahead.

I can’t ever remember a Thanksgiving when I was a kid when I didn’t load up on cranberry sauce. I even remember one Thanksgiving when my mother told me I had enough cranberry sauce on my plate and to leave some for others. She said when I ate what was on my plate I could go back and get more. I did. I love that stuff.

In more recent years I have learned there is actually a disagreement, even among those who love cranberry sauce about which is the right kind of cranberry sauce. For the longest time I didn’t know there was more than one! In my family there really is only one, jellied cranberry sauce. I had no idea any other kind actually existed. Imagine my surprise when I showed up somewhere to find the other kind of cranberry sauce. I started wondering what they did to the cranberry sauce to make it look like that. I did try it. I like jellied better, probably because that’s what I’m used to eating. And since I am the one who brought the cranberry sauce, well at least the picture of cranberry sauce, that’s what we’re eating.

For some time now I have wondered what makes jellied cranberry sauce jelly. I think for most of my life I have understood that it takes cranberries to make cranberry sauce. I may not have known specifically what a cranberry was, but I did know it was a berry. I understood it did not grow on the plant in a jellied form even if that was the only way I ever ate it.

So, as part of my research I went and bought cranberry sauce and looked at the label for the ingredients. I expected there would be a long list which would include some words nobody could pronounce. I also thought it would contain gelatin or something that would give it it’s unique shape.

Boy was I surprised. Ocean Spray, a company known for its cranberry products so if anyone would know it would be them, has the following on their list: Cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and water. That’s it! More out of curiosity than anything, I bought both kinds of cranberry sauce so I took a look at the “whole cranberry sauce/” I expected something to be missing. I was wrong again. I guess it is just Ocean Spray magic.

But I’ve thought about hose ingredients. A can of cranberry sauce consists of five different things that make a whole product when you open the can. When you take those five ingredients, in the right proportions, using the right process it becomes one who, if you will, of jellied cranberry sauce.

Paul, in the passage above from 1 Corinthians, much as I am using an analogy of cranberry sauce and its ingredients making a unified whole, Paul uses the same kind of idea only Paul’s analogy is the human body. He says, “…a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many.  We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…” If the lesson were to continue deeper into 1 Corinthians 12 Paul would say, in essence, that the various parts of the body, foot, hand, nose, ears, makes the body a cohesive whole.

But Paul isn’t finished. He says, “You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.” He then finishes the chapter by talking about the various gifts which God has given to those in the church. Not everyone, Paul reminds us, has the same gifts.

2000 years later the church may look a bit different than in Paul’s day. We may worship differently. But what Paul is telling us still holds true. People are called to various ministries within the church and beyond to use the gifts God has given.

God placed each of us here at this time because we have a role to fill in the life of Christ’s Church. To make it all work wee need to use the gifts with which God has blessed us. I know there are gifts God has given you to bless others and build up the Church.

In the life of the Church God brings together all the ingredients, but unlike Ocean Spray who uses some kind of magical process to make cranberry sauce, God sends the Holy Spirit to work us, to mold us, to make us, we who are many into one body, the Body of Christ.

These days, whenever I see cranberry sauce, my mind actually goes to thoughts of the Church. I am thankful for the Church and for my place in it. I hope you are too.

So, would someone please pass the cranberry sauce. Oh, and did I mention, I love that stuff. I also love the reminder, making me think about the Body of Christ, the Church.

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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