It’s 3:15 on the morning of our semi annual Brunswick Stew. We do one in the spring and one in the fall. By 5:00 am, we’ll have the big black 90 gallon pots boiling. Wooden paddles will keep the mix swirling, so nothing scorches to the bottom. Wood smoke will scent the night air, but fellowship and tradition will fill our hearts and soak into our souls.
Many years ago, the stew started as a way to make money for the church. The money generated went toward church upkeep, general bills, and charitable support. Now, our focus is on fellowship. We long for laughter. We cherish conversation, We drink in togetherness. We radiate love. It’s pretty close to heaven on earth at times.
Recently, I had the chance to review a list of ingredients for our stew. It was labeled, “Recipe”. It had beef, chicken, potatoes, and many other food and spice items, but written in an ink that no one sees are other ingredients far more important than the items purchased in the store – Christ’s blessing, the Holy Spirit’s presence, Love stirred in, Time invested, and prayers whispered.
I sat this evening and watched from the side as people talked to one another after we were finished working. The potatoes had been peeled, onions chopped, and final plans discussed. The laughter and bright chatter assured me that the REAL secret ingredients were already there, just as surely as the cans sitting in the storage area. Love had made it’s appearance. The Holy Spirit was walking among us. Christ was in His house.
The Sunday following each stew, our former pastor is fond of saying, “It was the best one yet!” Having watched this little church work tonight, including some who had never been part of this before, I am filled with Godly pride to be associated with these brothers and sisters. The pastor will be right when he pronounces it the best one yet… All the secret ingredients have already arrived. How can it be any other way?