John the Baptist is the definition of hardcore. Wandering in the wilderness wearing camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey? Clearly subtlety was not his thing. Jesus often uses the unusual to proclaim Him and John was definitely that. He was loudly quoting the prophet Isaiah and calling people to repentance. He was a black and white kind of guy- no nonsense, straight to the point. It had been prophesied that John would not drink wine but would be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was compared in spirit and power to another slightly “out there” prophet, Elijah. Everything about John the Baptist is resolute, bold, and intrigues me (although in reality I’m sure I’d respond with a, “Seriously man, please take a shower”).
Darla has been drawing detailed pictures of the Christmas story. This week she’s been working on one where Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visits Elizabeth who is pregnant with John. Looking at her illustration made me pause and consider the familiar story. Even before birth, John knew and acknowledged Jesus’ presence with a kick. He was the son of a priest and cousin to Jesus. He was a miracle himself, born of a barren woman. His story from the beginning pointed to Christ.
The noise level is high and the laughter is constant as is the teasing, playful punching, squeezes, and bear hugs while everyone jostles for a spot. The stack of paper plates is at least 100 deep but that is the last part of the table worth noticing. (By “table” I mean multiple folding tables holding an assorted variety of foods.) In place of fancy place settings is a stack of plastic spoons and knives. You might identify some dishes as familiar American Thanksgiving food. The turkey is carved, the cranberry sauce nearby. Clearly one lucky aunt was in charge only of potatoes for the day, judging by the numerous bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Most of the relatives circling up aren’t anticipating the turkey nearly as much as they anticipate the Korean bulgogi, which has been expertly marinated and cooked by my Uncle Dan. Before the afternoon is through a family member will dare a guest to take a heaping scoop of kimchi without mentioning how spicy it may or may not be. A tall blonde teen with wavy hair will bravely heap it high, willing to upset his tummy to impress his shorter Asian cousin. The banter over the food has begun before a spoon has been lifted.
The Korean crabmeat salad is next to the pea salad you can find at every Dutch potluck and I’ll take both, saving room for when the Dutch cheeses and crackers make their appearance later in the evening.
Before anyone gets to pile a plate, my Pake (“Grandfather” in Friesian, a Dutch dialect) gives a whistle to catch the attention of the rowdy group in front of him. The patriarch knows to give a stern look at the group of young and teenage men who are sweaty and loud from the highly competitive annual football game in the yard. Pake loves the laughter and teasing as much as the rest, but he is sober and severe in the matter of prayer and has rightly trained us to slow for moments of reverence.
“Before we fill up on the feast in front of us,” he begins in his familiar Dutch brogue, which I equate with intelligence and authority, “We will each share what we are thankful for this year and then I will give thanks.”
The young ones sigh. Pake should have considered how long this would take when he decided to have eight talkative children who then gave him forty-five talkative grandchildren. The food is destined to be served cold.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...