I have been blessed with a number of picnic baskets in my life. They are one of summer’s staples that just seem to disappear over the winter months. You know you put it in the attic, on the shelf, in the shed, or in the closet, but when summer arrives, and you are ready to go on that first, wonderful picnic of the year, that basket is not to be found! And, so, like camping gear, you end up going out and buying a new one, because it just isn’t a picnic without loading up a beautiful wicker basket with all the stuff for a meal to be eaten out in God’s great outdoors.
This year, I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to go buy a new picnic basket to replace the one I was sure we had, somewhere. I received one from a friend who must have misplaced hers, and went and bought a new one, and gave the old one to me. It’s great the way that works! This one is much nicer than our old one, and bigger, too! With plenty of room for plates and cups, and forks and spoons, and salt and pepper and a pretty checked tablecloth to lay it all out on! And, of course, the food! Ice cold lemonade in a jar, baked beans and fried chicken, cold slaw and apple pie with cheddar cheese to top it off. Or, watermelon, if I’m eating healthy! Man, it makes me hungry just thinking about it! But, it doesn’t have to be much to make it a picnic. A peanut butter sandwich and an apple, if eaten outside under an oak tree and shared with a friend, turns simple fare into a feast fit for a queen! It’s the fresh air, and sunshine, and the company you keep that makes a picnic a picnic.
That is why I think the ultimate picnic is the Church Picnic, where friends gather in Jesus’ name on the church grounds to bless and share a meal outdoors. Everyone brings a covered dish or a dessert to pass, but all are welcome, even if they didn’t bring a thing, and you sit around and laugh and talk, and eat till you can’t eat anymore, and, somehow, there is always enough, and no one goes home hungry. Just like that first church picnic in the Bible, when the only one who thought to bring anything was a small boy, who offered up his lunch. Jesus took his meager offering, sat everybody down on the grass, blessed and broke the food into pieces, and turned the late afternoon into a picnic! Gathered around Jesus, they laughed and talked and ate their fill as they watched the sun go down.
And somehow, there was more than enough for everyone, and no one went home hungry. They called it a miracle. I call it living in God’s abundance. Because, when simple food is blessed and shared with a friend, eaten outside, with God all around, somehow there is always enough for everyone. Oh, if only we could have a Church Picnic and invite the whole world to gather around Jesus, and sit down together on a grassy hill, and break bread together – what a picnic that would be! If only everyone could lay down their weapons long enough to take a bite of bread and a sip of wine, and we could laugh and talk – really talk together as we watched the sun go down, because it is hard to speak angry words when your mouth is full of good things. Then, maybe, if only for a moment, we would have peace, and for the first time, the world would know what true freedom means.
May God bless all your picnics, this 4th of July and always,
Pastor Barb <><
And all ate and were filled; Mark 6:42