I have been studying chicken recently. In ancient churches the chicken stood on the cross on the steeple. Imagine the most visible sight in your medieval town was a chicken atop the cross of the church steeple. Seriously a chicken stood atop the cross. Do you know why? The chicken was a reminder to the community that they should not deny Jesus in the way they were living out in the world. (Simon Peter denying Jesus three times before the rooster crowed in case you are missing the analogy.) This is also how the chicken (officially rooster, but I’m a city boy) got atop weathervanes. In one paragraph you have learned two facts.
The chicken remains a powerful symbol in church life. Fried chicken is a staple in our potluck dinners. Some congregations, who steal preachers from each other, have pulpit committees. These committees will sometimes invite the prospective preacher to a meal, where fried chicken is served. How will the prospective pastor eat the chicken? Will he use his fingers like we do? Or is he uppity and uses a fork? Preachers have lost the opportunity for a great church because they failed the fried chicken test. Yes, there are some uppity people who eat fried chicken with a fork! Can you believe that?
When there is a loss in a family the church begins the ministry of casserole. I was talking with a colleague the other day and we were lamenting the fact that most of our congregational care is crisis management. We will hold your hand through grief for as long as the casseroles last, then we are off to the next family suffering loss or need. The best comfort casseroles are those with chicken. I maintain it is the third sacrament of the church; baptism, communion, and holy casserole.
Chicken is ubiquitous in church life.
The unofficial king of fried chicken is Harland Sanders. Colonel Sanders is responsible for bringing us Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Harland Sanders began serving chicken at his gas station. His family lived in the back of the “filling station.” He would prepare five meals for his family and maybe a couple of extras. Before the family could eat their meal, Sanders would try to sell them to those coming to the filling station. He had one table in his “restaurant.” He developed a reputation among the truckers for his chicken. His station grew into what we would call a truck stop. People came from all over for Harland Sanders’ fried chicken. He was also known for green beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, brown gravy and biscuits.
Then along came the Interstate. His business was located at the intersection of two highways. The interstate would be ten miles away from his establishment. He could see the handwriting on the wall and knew he had to move or fold up shop. So rather than fold, Harland Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Interstate. The rest they say is history.
If you look around your church on Sunday and you see more empty seats than people could that be a hint. Rather than waiting for people to come to the church, maybe it is time for us to go get them. You know, that is not a bad idea. Grab your phone, call a friend, and invite them to church. We will be talking about Jesus. He is the only constant. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
Why are you still reading, you should be on the phone.
What’s the matter? Chicken!?