Dear Friend, Maybe We Are All Invited to the Feast

“This whole universe is Grace University. And honouring one another is how you get an honorary degree at Grace University.  Everywhere, we get to learn. Everywhere is a class. Everything begins with the next face you see, the next person you stand beside.”
-Ann Voskamp, from “When You Want The Messiness of Things to Pass

“Everywhere, we get to learn,” Ann Voskamp says.

About each other. About the world. About the Creator of each other and the world. To which I say, amen. (I always give Ann a wholehearted amen).

And this week, I got to learn about flour.

Me and a small group of others in the 5280 Fellowship program toured the Denver headquarters of a flour mill conglomerate – a company that processes raw grains into the flours and grain-based products that we eat each day.

Flour, I learned, is a big business.

As the first snow of the season fell gently outside, we toured the spacious test kitchens where the milling company tries out their products in cookies and breads and sauces. As cars slid down Lawrence street, we were shown rows and rows of bread loaves, fresh from testing, each with its own texture and integrity based on the flour that was used.

Not only was this tour eye-opening (who knew flour could be so cool?) and mouth watering (yes, we got some great samples)- it registered to me as metaphor.

It all feels especially poignant this Thanksgiving week.

Grain and grind. Milling and measuring. Feeding jobs, feeding production, feeding people.

I was in awe of the beautiful and complex way that basic ingredients are cultivated into nourishment. The way that things we take for granted are actually made possible by the work of thousands and thousands of other people. The way that a Denver-based office  and its employees make products that are consumed by more than 100 million people around the world every day.

The feast really just begins with flour.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

Our tour of the flour mill was lead by the company CEO – who is a follower of Christ. It isn’t listed on his business cards or touted in new client meetings, but the signs are deep and clear. He speaks with a quiet confidence and humility. He leads his employees to serve others before themselves. He casts a vision for a workplace where each and every person feels valued and seen each day.

“Good business principals are actually Biblical principals,” he tells us. “When we see our jobs as just paychecks, that’s called transactional thinking. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But when we see our jobs as agents of good in the world, and good in God’s kingdom, that’s called transformational thinking.”

Transactional to transformational. Flour to feast. Midwestern city kid to CEO.

This, I think, is what the body looks like. This is the meaning we can find in our work. This is the ‘why’ behind our hours logged and long commutes driven.

With God, the transcational becomes transformational.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people. Grain and seed and crop becoming table and communion and feast.

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
– 1 Corinthians 11: 23

He took bread – the flour, the mill sifting, the dough rising.

He broke it – he shaped it with his very-human-and-entirely-Godly hands.

He said, “this is my body” – and when Jesus uses a metaphor, I believe he means it.

Bread is just one sacrament. Flour is just one metaphor. The work that you do each day is your own way of cultivating beauty from the raw stuff of life. 

As the baker sifts flour between her fingers, so the home loan officer sifts out what the single mom sitting across the desk from her really needs.

As the chef kneads dough – once, twice, three times – the teacher gently repeats the problem, encourages the whirring brain inside that tiny head – once, twice, three times.

As the CEO of the flour mill shares donuts with his employees to encourage conversation, so the youth pastor brings donuts to group this week – to encourage a smile, an introduction, a glimmer of something newly discovered.

If we look for God’s fingerprints, we will find them. In the most unlikely places. In the board room and the classroom, the kitchen and the convention center.

I’m more convinced of this with every passing week. It fires me up just writing about it.

The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

In your work, you’re creating things where there once was vacancy. New from old. Something from nothing. Simple to sacred.

You are how that happens. 

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Before we left the flour mill, the CEO dusted flour from his fingers, and joined his hands with ours in prayer. As the first snow of the season fell gently outside, our communion with one another in this creative space started a conversation with the Father.

We didn’t need to invite his presence -because he is presence.

He was there already.

In the grain and grind.

In the milling and measuring.

In the creation of beauty from the raw stuff of life.

The raw stuff of us is used by God, no matter how simple or small the start.  The simple gives way to the sacred through the work of God’s people.

Flour taught me that.

For these and so many reasons, I will feast this week with a reverent and grateful heart.

 

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