More than just okra

Published 2:12 pm Monday, October 1, 2018

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Sam Askew

It is interesting how often some comment will be made to me and then it strangely continues to arise within days on different occasions with a different group of people.

Recently, I was in Colonial Williamsburg and looking at a variety of plants in a vegetable garden. A couple standing close by asked about the identity of the plant in front of me. I informed them it was okra. They asked, “Is it edible?” Being one of my least favorite vegetables, I nevertheless suggested that if they were eating in one of the colonial taverns they should order some.

Then at Sunday lunch with friends and a person who had arrived with them, the topic of okra was brought up. This other person had moved here from the Las Vegas where she was raised. She had never heard of okra. She wanted to know about how best to prepare it for eating. A neighbor had brought her a grocery bag full as a welcome to the neighborhood gift and she wasn’t sure what to do with it.

At dinner with my mother a few days later, again, the topic of okra arose. A neighbor of my sister, who has a large garden had okra to spare and offered to bring some by for she and our mother. My sister had never tasted it and mother has never like it. The offer was received, and the okra was passed along to other family members who were quite appreciative.

Then a fourth conversation concerning okra occurred. A friend who had been grocery shopping decided he needed to try something new. For some reason, okra came to mind. He found it, and purchased some. His grandmother was pleased to tell him how it should be prepared. He had once eaten it fried at a buffet restaurant thinking it was small chicken nuggets. It was a surprise to his taste buds but not horrible tasting, he said.

I was reflecting upon my encounters with okra were just days apart and wondered, am I in an okra commercial and no one has clued me in? Should I be wondering if there is a message from God somehow intertwined with these encounters about okra? When in Scripture something is repeated often it means the reader should take notice.

The first conversation was with two strangers. The second with a stranger among friends. The third with my mother about the offering of a stranger. The fourth with a neighbor. Not really a clear connection for theological reflection.

Then I thought, the first conversation was about the unknown vegetable. The second conversation concerned the gift of the unknown. The third was about a gift from an unknown neighbor. The fourth conversation the person once tried the unknown and found it worth purchasing. This has merit.

Some persons have never experienced the grace of God, and they cannot identify it on their own. Some persons have been recipients of grace, but, they are not sure of what it really means. Some persons are offered grace who are appreciative and offer grace to others who are in hopes of receiving such. And finally, some persons have received grace and it was found a worthy purchase.

The abundance of grace, like a plentiful crop of okra, is freely shared with those who have knowledge of it and is received by those who can appreciate it. A certain vegetable may be an acquired taste as is the Christian faith. It is best when clearly identified, presented and prepared so that it will be found nourishing and delicious. Have you a neighbor in need of okra?

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Sam

SAM ASKEW is the pastor of Windsor Congregational Christian Church. He can be contacted at 242-4794.

P.S. Windsor Christian Church is showing “The Lion King” on the lawn. Bring your chairs and enjoy free popcorn as you watch the Disney film. This will be today at 7:30 p.m. at 4 North Court St., Windsor.