Cheeseburger Balls

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Dear Friends,

Another super easy yummy meal! Readymade ingredients and a bit of time are all you need for this fun dish. Frozen meatballs, a jar of cheese sauce, pasta, salad, and a bread to go with it. Poof! All done. Another variation is to put the balls and cheese sauce on a bun for a cheeseburger ball sandwich. Granted, you can make each piece of the meal by hand, but it isn’t’ necessary. Besides, it would take much longer and remove the ease of your dinner.

There is an old childhood song about a meatball. You might know it from camp. It rolled away when somebody sneezed. The silly lyrics follow it as it wanders out the door and ends up under a bush. There, it becomes mush. Tasty mush. Yet, the meatball lives on (which is kind of disgusting, but endearing)! Early next summer, we are told, the remains of the mush grows into a tree covered in spaghetti, meatballs, and sauce. This tune made me think of the prodigal son. I know, it’s a leap, but roll with me.

The story is found in Luke 15. Jesus shares three different accounts of things being lost and found, the last being a youth. A younger son who, when given his future, took off to discover the world. He travels around, ending up mush. He falls to the lowly status of a pig boy and wants to eat what they are given. He remembers how the hired men who worked for his dad had more than he did and decides to return home. He feels unworthy to be a son, but hopes for a job somewhere. Yet, when he returns, the down and out mush under the bush was received with glee! A celebration was required, one rejoicing in the lost being found.

The older son is not a main character in the story, yet his is the most important part. Anger and jealousy enter the picture. The older son is unhappy and frustrated. The father explains. “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But, we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” These profound words encapsulate this entire story.

Human nature doesn’t like to have someone win for no apparent reason. It goes against the grain. To give something for nothing is just plain wrong. A participation trophy grates on almost every nerve. This younger brother had deliberately left to go his own way and came back. What kind of reason is that for a party? How many times do we lose track of someone we once revered and loved? More than we think. If we see them again, what is our response? I often wonder if, in the spring, that older brother finally got it. After a winter of wrestling with this bizarre idea, perhaps then, he understood. And blossomed with fruits never before seen in his life. The fruits of forgiveness and love and humility for a brother who broke the rules and came back and grew into a bigger and better younger sibling.

As you snack on your cheeseburger balls, reflect on these fruits. May you grow yourself into a bigger and better you, full of forgiveness, love, and humility for others. Someone who also remembers to clean the kitchen and wash up the dishes when you are done!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,*                                                               Kris

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