Gloria was a regular pain-in-the neck from the moment I met her in church. I didn’t like her sharp tongue. I didn’t like how she glared at me when I spoke. I certainly didn’t like being on the same board with her….but there I was and there she was. My strategy was to ignore her.
My strategy didn’t work very well. At every service, every board meeting, and every Wednesday night discussion there she was. Geez! Didn’t the woman EVER get sick?
Being a small, lay-lead church, I guess it was inevitable I’d be asked to give a service. I always figured when I gave a service, I’d pick the content. That didn’t happen the way I envisioned. I guess when you leave things to chance, they get planned for you. But I still wasn’t prepared for the subject: Easter Sunday, give a service about bread.
Bread? Why not just ask me to fly? Or maybe I could jump 1,000 feet in the air and land on a single toe upon returning to earth….but bread? Who in her right mind would do a service – an ENTIRE service about bread, for heaven’s sake?
Apparently, I wasn’t in my right mind because I found myself agreeing. Thwack on the head!
Well, after some research, what do you know? There’s a LOT to say about bread! Bread requires a lot of work to be, well, bread. It begins with seed in dirt and rain and sun to help the grain grow. After being picked and ground, it has to be baked to create bread. That requires flour, sugar, yeast, water, milk, maybe eggs, maybe spices to add flavor and, before I knew it, bread was doing more than taking shape in a pan. It was taking shape into a service.
Brain storm! I decided to ‘mix’ bread during the service. Slips of paper would go into the mixing bowl. Each slip would have an ‘ingredient’ needed to create bread. Parishioners would take a slip from the bowl to represent their part in the ‘bread.’ Some would be dirt, some rain, some the seed, some the ground flour, some the spice and so forth.
Easter Sunday arrived warm and sunny. I looked out as I began to give my carefully prepared sermon and there in the back, glaring at me, was Gloria. Guess she couldn’t get sick on Easter, either. Sigh….
The service went well. As it ended and people sang, they came to take ‘ingredients’ from the bowl. Near the last was Gloria. She read her slip and looked at me – a smile forming on her face. Was the woman SMILING at ME?
‘I am the spice that adds flavor to the bread,’ she read out loud.
What was creeping across my face now? A smile? I saw Gloria in a new light. Gloria wasn’t evil. She was simply….spicey!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.