Make Banana Bread

Make Banana Bread

When I was in 7th grade, I was growing like swamp grass after a rain storm which means I constantly thought I was hungry and ate everything in sight. One summer day, as I was doing my hourly foraging for food in the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator, I noticed a plastic bag full of brown bananas in the freezer. I was immediately grossed out like a teenager seeing his zits in the mirror and in unbelief that we had rotting bananas in our freezer. So, what did I do? I took it upon myself to rid our freezer of this nasty contamination. I held my nose and took those brown, frozen bananas and tossed them in the trash. So now, that issue was settled and so I thought. A few days later I noticed my mother rummaging through the freezer with a disgusted look on her face. She began mumbling and in frustration blurted out, “where are those bananas?” It didn’t register with me at first and so I just sat in the family room and didn’t say anything. But then, mother began asking each of us one by one if we knew what happened to the bananas in the freezer. When she got to me, I said with the bluntness of a young, cocky teenager, “they were brown and rotten so I threw them in the trash. It was disgusting.” I’m convinced that mother’s hair caught on fire like the burning bush in Exodus but shy of that her face was red and her hands were on her hips so it was about to get ugly. I sat paralyzed on the couch waiting for the finger wag but instead I got a lecture about why she routinely froze brown, rotten bananas. As I heard the words, “I was planning to make banana bread and now I can’t make it,” I almost gave myself a lecture especially because I was in the midst of hunger pangs. After all, it was time for my afternoon snack!

Putting the humor aside, as I look around at what is happening all across the world with COVID-19, in the midst of sickness, death, lock-down and pervasive fear, I see so many people making the best out of a bad situation. You might say, they are taking the brown, rotten bananas and making banana bread. There are numerous stories, for instance, a young elementary girl using her new sewing machine to make masks. A young boy using his savings of $500 to buy supplies to help others. A young Girl Scout producing clips for mask ear loops making the masks more comfortable to wear. Manufacturers of all sorts converting their factories and warehouses into assembly lines to produce masks and shields. There are literally thousands of stories like these. Neighbor helping neighbor. Friend helping friend. Stranger helping stranger.

In fact, the Bible calls the Christian to respond to the needs of others with compassion and love. It comes down to what we call the golden rule,  LK 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. An appropriate parable taught by Jesus makes the point.

LK 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

What can we learn from this parable?

  1. Be available to serve the needs of others
  2. Be courageous to cross cultural and societal barriers to meet the needs of others
  3. Be attentive to notice the needs of others
  4. Be compassionate in response to the needs of others (love your neighbor)
  5. Be willing to meet the needs of others
  6. Be helpful in meeting the needs of others
  7. Be generous in meeting the needs of others

My friends, there are proverbial brown, rotten bananas all around us. People are sick with fevers and deep coughs, laid off from their jobs, behind on their bills, coping with cabin fever and managing enormous stress. We can miss the opportunity to help others (throw the brown, rotten bananas in the trash) or we can be motivated by the love and compassion of Jesus and busy ourselves with making banana bread. So look around and do what you can with what you have to love your neighbor!

A Work in Progress
Pastor Gene