If we’ve talked for more than five minutes, you may know that I love cooking and everything about it, even doing the dishes (though Chris, being thoughtful and marvelous, usually does them if I clean up as I go). It’s not limited to the actual act—I read recipe blogs, I pour over cookbooks, and I even love reality television cooking shows. American shows are overly dramatic—as Chris once pointed out, the music tells you how you’re supposed to feel about any given situation—and often times, on a clock to add stress and a feeling of dire importance. And some monetary prize to sweeten the pot. It’s competitive and judgmental, but good trash tv. And then, last night, I saw an episode of The Great British Baking Show.
The bakers show up for the weekend and are given plenty of time to get through three challenges. It is baking, after all—the dough has to have time to proof (which I learned means “be left to rise”!), and being in the oven takes time. The judges are straightforward and honest, but encouraging and not the least bit mean. The contestants all get along and goof around. And at the end, the winner is given flowers and a cake stand. It’s more about the art, craft and joy of what’s being done than being THE BEST and THE WINNER and BETTER THAN ALL THE REST. So needless to say, I think I have a new favorite.
It got me thinking about cooperation and competition as modes for discipleship. In following Jesus, do we try to be the best, or the best “us” we can be? In personal practice and pursuance of Christ, is it about doing good or doing well? Are the standards we set for ourselves so that we can become better, or so we can appear as good as the folks who get to show us their highlight reels and selectively edited successes?
This Sunday is huge at Midway Hills. We are celebrating Palm Sunday, and Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It is one of the most counter-cultural, almost rebellious moments in the Gospel—Jesus on a donkey with folks waving palms and celebrating him, not the Roman entourage entering the city. And yet, the folks who thought they picked a real winner would all abandon him within a workweek. So we’re doing a few things on Palm Sunday to celebrate cooperation, too. First, we will be baptizing four youth into the church and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is astounding and amazing! Second, we’ll be having a meal where everyone will be fed and get enough. Third, we’re having a huge Easter Egg hunt with anyone who wants to participate. And finally, the North Texas Area JYF and Chi Rho Together group are coming here to help make service kits to assist those in need.
Palm Sunday is an interesting intersection between cooperation and competition—two things that have their place and work in the world. But I think we may lean more towards cooperation in our congregational culture. I think it’s what we are called to do. And we’ll get there, together, surely. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.