Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Easter and a Controlled Substance



I like to try different kinds of food, but there’s one food I’ve never had largely because it’s pretty much illegal in the United States of America…at least if you prepare it authentically.  If you’re of Scottish origin you know immediately what I’m talking about.  I speak of the beloved national dish of Scotland:  haggis.  Haggis has been illegal in the US since 1971, when the USDA ruled that the lungs of livestock “shall not be saved for use as human food."  Because lamb’s lung (along with the heart, liver, and stomach) is a key ingredient in haggis, it’s been very difficult to obtain legally since then, to the dismay of die hard Americans of Scottish heritage.

 If you’re not Scottish, you’re probably wondering, “Why in the world would anyone want to eat such a concoction?”  Good question!  While the origin of haggis is obscure, a very plausible explanation is that people came up with the recipe out of necessity.  There wasn’t anything better to eat, and so hungry folk took the food that nobody else wanted and turned it into something good.  The same necessity accounts for the birth of “Soul Food”.  Slaves were given the throw-away food provisions nobody else wanted.  So they ingeniously figured out how to make what they were given delicious.

Haggis (along with Soul Food), reminds us that sometimes life can dish out misfortune, and we’re forced to make due with less than ideal circumstances.  And haggis reminds us that at times like that, it is possible for our misfortune to be turned into a blessing.

In a real sense, this is one of the powerful messages of Easter.  Jesus was served a terrible dish. He was arrested even though he’d done nothing wrong.  He was beaten and hung on a cross.  He died, and was buried.  The people who had placed their hope in him were devastated.  They scattered in fear and panic. 

Then Easter came.  Christ rose from the grave.  And the ignoble defeat was turned into a glorious victory!

Easter showcases the power of God to take tragedy and misfortune, and turn these things to the good.  And Easter demonstrates that this power of God extends into human beings themselves.  God can take broken lives and discarded people and raise them to new life.  Just look at Peter and Paul, or any of the 12 Apostles.

Easter is the redemptive, transforming power of God breaking into our world and our hearts through Jesus Christ.  And this life-giving transforming power of God can’t be stopped by all the forces of darkness, or death itself.

Scottish and British officials have been after the US to lift the ban on haggis ingredients for years, and it’s currently under consideration.  But whatever the decision, there is good news.  You can make haggis illegal, but you can’t stop God’s power to bring good out of the worst of circumstances through Jesus Christ!

Christ has risen.  So Bon App├ętit.