Confession – I have an addiction to the BBC1 cookery programme, Master Chef. Since the days of the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr (now an 85 year old !!), from Delia Smith to Nigel Slater and currently Master Chef, the programmes have educated and entertained me for over 50 years.
As a 19 year-old bride who could milk a cow, had passed her driving test but had not yet boiled an egg, I was in for a rude awakening. Several members of my husband’s family were involved in Cornwall’s tourist trade by way of Bed & Breakfast. As we married in November, it gave me a good six months before the sign went up outside our house. My adored husband was patient, very patient and encouraging. That six months was a steep culinary learning curve to say the least…. But in June 1968 guests were not only provided with Bed and Breakfast but also…..Evening Meal! A “full English”, served hot and on time was a fulfilling experience. And for my husband, he had great satisfaction in providing vegetables from his large vegetable garden. However, breakfasts or any other meal, are short-lived feasts and the glow of satisfaction soon dims in the inevitable washing-up.
Perhaps all our moments of fulfilment are transient. The very nature of accomplishment arrives and passes, but all are precious moments to add into our personal “memory bank”. We cannot cling to these happy achievements otherwise there is the danger they turn into self-satisfaction and a temptation to dwell on the past.
Have you ever come across the slogan: “Methodism is a Movement – not a Monument”.
In our churches there is great comfort in reliving those achievements of the past, stand-out moments we would dearly love to replicate. Our 2018 Carol Service was a wonderful high-spot but that was Christmas – that was then but this is now. Time marches on and sometimes it’s a job to keep up. Our faith evolves too as life experiences mould us, inspire us, or sometimes rock us to our very core. If faith ever becomes static, then like water, it will be in danger of becoming stagnant. Movement indicates LIFE.
People seem surprised at my numerous pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Surely I’ve seen it and that experience should be fulfilling enough. But it’s not like that. Every time I have been the people have been different and it has been so special to watch people grow in their faith and understanding, to have their dreams fulfilled by standing in the Garden Tomb or sailing on the Sea of Galilee. Back in 1995 a very diffident ‘Jenny’ joined the group. She was shy and comfortable only in the background of things. Her Pilgrimage was a turning point in her life. Some months after we returned home, we learned that ‘Jenny’ had been visiting other chapels to show her slides and talk about her experiences. She began to take an active role in her own chapel and, after a few years ‘Jenny’ became a confident Circuit Steward. How humbling but also thrilling to see others grow in faith – a real sense of fulfilment.
More recently I returned to North Chingford where I had been minister for eight years. At the turn of the millennium a group of teenage boys used to pile into my sitting-room after the Sunday evening service. When parents arrived to collect them, they too made themselves at home for a further hour. Imagine how emotional I felt last September when I walked into the church to see two of those boys, now married men, sitting with their wives and their own children! One of the fulfilling moments of ministry.
Of all my many dreams, becoming Master Chef has never been one. Whoever lifts the trophy will deservedly be bursting with pride in their achievement – ambition fulfilled. But that will be just the beginning of new adventures and opportunities as previous winners have attested. The series moves on apace – new contestants, fresh ambitions – winners and losers. As Christians we have never completed our task, we move forward together towards another kind of trophy. We all know what it is to ‘win some’ and ‘lose some’ but our ultimate trophy will be the crown of life – in Jesus Christ there are no losers.