The Half-a-Donut Church

 

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a place not unlike Kinship Christian Radioland, there was a wonderful church that held a beautiful Easter Sunday Sunrise Service. After the service, in the church basement of course, they put on an Easter Sunrise Breakfast for anyone and everyone to attend. There would be milk and juice and coffee and perhaps some fresh fruit and eggbake (I’m pretty sure the recipe for eggbake is somewhere in the first part of Genesis, but I could not find it.) and donuts from a local bakery.

 

Now, I’m a big fan of deep-fried pastries with a hole in the center. My affection for them borders on the legendary. It’s not quite an obsession or an addiction, but if I was a fish and you had one of those chocolate-covered tractor wheel looking donuts on your hook, my only hope for survival would be catch-and-release. 

 

I tell you this to preface what happened in one particular Easter Sunday morning in the basement of that church. I was helping down in the kitchen and, just as the service upstairs was about to end and the fruit and beverages had all been set out and the eggbake was steamy hot and ready to serve, I found myself standing next to one of the dear Church Ladies with a knife in her hand standing at the counter cutting all of donuts in half!

 

I know. The very concept is horrific. 

 

At first I was speechless. As she continued in her relentless slicey mayhem, I managed to stutter, “Why….why are you cutting the donuts in half?”

 

“Some of us can’t eat a whole donut.”

 

And she didn’t stop until every single donut had been cleaved asunder.

 

I said no more to this Lizzie Borden of the donut world, but I have forever lamented that day. I have seethed at the thought.

 

By cutting each and every donut in half, she made every person who took more than a half a donut into a gluttonous fiend. She sent the message that we were the church of half-a-donut, unable to afford to give our guests on the occasion of the Savior of the World rising from the dead more than a measly sample –a half-measure of a full, unmolested, intact and unassailed donut. 

 

On the day when we celebrated the most glorious miracle in all of Christendom, this one lady had sent the message to people who perhaps only came to church twice a year that we serve not a God for whom absolutely nothing is impossible, but the God of half-a-donut.

 

The God who made the entire universe and everything in it. The God who split the sea and thundered from Mount Sinai, who made it rain for forty days and forty nights, whose glory is proclaimed by the stars and the planets and the galaxies, who is praised by everything that has breath –is that the God of half-a-donut?

 

For years, I pondered what I should have said to that dear Church Lady on that day.

 

And I have come to the conclusion that I should have said less than I did. 

 

In all of my ranting above, I have failed to consider that the lady cutting those donuts in half really was a child of God. Perhaps she really and truly believed in her heart of hearts that she was serving God in the best way possible. There is the distinct possibility that this lady actually and truly loved Jesus and was cutting those donuts in half out of love and service to others. There is also the distinct possibility that my ranting had its roots in Pharisaical pride and a fleshly lust for sugary carbs more so than in bringing glory to God.

 

When Luther wrote his Small Catechism, this is what he said about the eighth commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

 

That is most definitely not the default setting of human beings. We seem to automatically jump to the worst possible conclusion when we hear anything about someone else. And we grow that and build that until we actually believe that people who disagree with us are not just wrong, but evil. In the meantime, we just can’t understand why those evil people think we are the evil ones.

 

And before you know it, there are all these wedges driven between us and there is so much animosity seething in our hearts we won’t even consider forgiving them or (heaven forbid) admitting our sin and asking for their forgiveness. 

 

And then one day, we look into the mirror and find we have actual contempt not just for fellow human beings who are made in the image of God, but for brothers and sisters in Christ. 

 

How will we be able to stand in heaven shoulder-to-shoulder with people for whom we have contempt? How can that work? Scripture is quite clear:

 

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20 (NIV)

 

In the light of that verse, maybe the solution is to love the donuts less and love each other more. 

 

Maybe the real enemy is not the lady cutting the donuts in half. 

 

Maybe God is more interested in churches where love is not chopped into pieces than churches where the donuts are whole. 

 

Today’s Praise

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 1 John 5:1 (NLT)

 

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