Raising three school-aged boys, his weekly shopping list looks a little bit different than mine -he buys gallons of milk and multiple loaves of bread every week, I buy a token quart of milk every other week just to have it on hand and our bread is best kept in the freezer because with just two of us it is a race against staleness when it comes to consuming a whole loaf- but beyond the basics, my brother and I share a love of finding new recipes, trying new cooking techniques and introducing new things into our diet.
Last week, in the “back-to-school” and “hearty breakfast” category, Courtney told me about an new oatmeal recipe that he was going to try: Mix up rolled oats, Greek yogurt, almond milk, a sliced banana, vanilla and some honey. Put it in a mason jar and refrigerate overnight.
I sent him a text in return and said, “Cool… I’m sure it tastes great the next day when you warm it up in the microwave.”
He replied, “It’s eaten cold. Like a pudding.”
Never done that.
The next morning my brother sent me a text with a photo of the oatmeal and this message: “Definitely a stick-to-the-ribs-affair. And 1 quart of oatmeal is a lot of oatmeal.”
His lukewarm review only egged me on to try this for myself.
And so last night, when I got home from The Rev.Canon Nelson Baliira’s Celebration of New Ministry, I got out the oatmeal.
I didn’t have all of the same ingredients that my brother listed and so I substituted coconut sugar for the honey and regular milk (see? That handy quart, waiting) for almond milk … stirred it all up and put it in the fridge. It’s in there, now, waiting for me to try it out in a couple of hours when breakfast time rolls around.
Cold oatmeal. It’s a little bit of a mind-bender for those of us who grew up with steaming bowls set before us, just waiting to be topped with a pat of butter, some brown sugar and a small pool of milk, maybe some raisins if we were lucky.
Cold oatmeal. It’s not what you’d expect.
Cold oatmeal. My brother described it as “pudding.”
Who doesn’t like pudding?
At this year’s Convocation meetings, the Staff, Treasurer, Finance Committee and I have been touring around our diocese talking about some changes, some new initiatives and some new ideas that we will be introducing at our fall Convention. Much of the program that we propose looks like business as usual: continuing committees, the same rhythm to our diocesan calendar and year, opportunites for leadership in familiar capacities like Standing Committee, Disciplinary Board, the Council of Trustees. But there are changes. And some new ideas. New initiatives:
- There is an increased focus on developing the Stevenson School for Ministry as a resource in our diocese, expanding opportunities for lay Christian formation as well as ordained ministry-
- There is an initiative to offer more support and programming for Children, Youth and Young Adults-
- There is an invitation to increase the Council of Trustees in number in order to better support and develop ministries that people in our parishes are passionate about –
- And there is a shift in the way that we understand the role of diocesan leadership- from being, formerly, the initiators of program and locus of information- to supporting, encouraging, and empowering the 13,000 Episcopalians in Central Pennsylvania to do God’s work.
This year our Convention will include legislative action to enact these changes (in the form of resolutions during our business session), some new activities to encourage trying-on something new (the Convention center includes a sports venue to encourage family participation; come climb the rock wall with the Bishop on Friday afternoon) and a mix of traditional worship services (Saturday’s Holy Eucharist) with some fresh ideas in liturgy (Friday night’s Compline service featuring our Youth and a story-telling circle.)
Some of it will be as comfortable as a bowl of warm oatmeal.
And some of it will encourage us to try-on some new ideas. Like chilled oatmeal pudding.
I invite you, in these intervening weeks, as we prepare to gather, to pray about the things that you hold dear about our Church and to give thanks to God. And I also encourage you to wonder and pray about the places where you might imagine trying something new- for the sake of growth and health- with an enlivening spirit.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all in October in Lancaster.
And I’m looking forward to breakfast, just a short hour from now.