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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 25, 2002

A homily of eggs, ketchup

By Kevin James Gilbert

Not long ago, my breakfast was scrambled eggs topped with a lacing of ketchup — so good for me.

That dish is a part of my heritage. I can't eat it without being transported back to childhood: the yellow tin-and-vinyl highchair, my dad flying a forkful of "airplanes" into their "hangar" (my mouth). The best part of those flying lessons was when the plane crashed into hangar doors that closed too soon.

It's a part of me that I can't shake and don't want to. All the joy of childhood is experienced in a single breakfast. Even though my dad and I had an imperfect relationship, God has put beauty into my heritage.

My dad and I had a near-fight when I was 18. I joined the Army Rangers and left home. Yet, through all the ugliness, the good makes up for it and creates a beautiful heritage. I'm very thankful that we both reconciled before my dad developed Alzheimer's.

The heritage of my congregation is beautiful. It begins in 1912 and spans periods of rapid growth and great joy. Twenties became hundreds; small meeting places became a full-service church facility. Like eating eggs and ketchup, relishing the church's history of worship, parties, weddings and talent contests makes the past joy real now.

But my church history is not all joy and success. It testifies to church splits, ethical and doctrinal lapses, even strife over the purchase of pews. Yet, God has put beauty into my heritage.

People who have a heritage secure in God stick with their communities. Maybe that's why the author of Psalm 16, with the spiritual and moral decline of his nation staring him in the face, was still able to say, "My heritage is beautiful to me."

Some of us are amazed at the amount of ugliness (evil) in the world, asking: "How could a good God allow it?"

Might not that question be rather judgmental and pessimistic? Considering our personal and community sinfulness, I think we should be amazed at the amount of beauty in the world, saying: "I'm glad our good God doesn't give us what we deserve."

If I remember correctly, the late Bob Marley sang, "In this great future, you can't forget your past." Let me add, "Nor should we try to forget our past." Regardless of its circumstances, every family and every church has beauty in its heritage. The beauty can be relished without hiding the ugliness that sometimes accompanied it. And the beauty can be re-created while breaking patterns of dysfunctional behavior that soiled it.

My heritage is beautiful because God has put beauty into it. That realization has increased the level of joy in my life. So try it. Make a meal, play a game, visit a place, or call someone you enjoyed being with when you were a kid.

Those eggs-and-ketchup moments can change your world view, if not your world, if you let them.

Kevin James Gilbert is a minister of Wahiawa Church of Christ. Expressions of Faith is a column that welcomes written works by leaders in faith and spirituality. E-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com or call 525-8035. Articles submitted may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.