No, I’m not writing about Donald Trump, his reality TV show, or politics. Rather, tonight’s post is about a personal story that goes back almost as long as I have been alive.
You see, this is the time of year that I think about the history of the family and making the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. The upcoming holiday has always been an important one in our family and how vividly I remember watching my grandmother and Auntie Lou making the turkey for the special celebration. Grandma led the kitchen and walked everyone else through each step of preparing most of the traditional meal.
When I was young, Mom took over the duties of fixing the turkey each year – after all, she was a terrific cook and had taken cooking classes of some of the very exclusive culinary schools. She liked the Pope school in particular and usually referenced that particular cookbook. In fact, Mom didn’t deviate from the way she had been trained to make a turkey for the rest of her life. And she insisted that I learn how to prepare a bird as well so I could carry on the family tradition.
So, for quite a number of years I worked with Mom and learned every nuance of preparing the “perfect” Thanksgiving turkey. I was the apprentice. And I took the job responsibility very seriously. In fact, to this day, long after my mother’s passing back in 1998, I still break out the Pope cookbook and turn to the page that outlines the steps for preparation of the Thanksgiving bird. This year marks the 44th year that I have cooked the turkey. And I just about have it down to a science.
Of course, Janet and the kids have been spoiled over the years and I am proud that they still insist on Dad’s turkey each year. I honestly can’t imagine them enjoying another feast as much as the one that we have come to enjoy. And I think that one of the things that makes it special is the fact that we don’t cook turkeys throughout the year – really only at Thanksgiving and that means nobody gets tired of it.
I spent a number of years working with Mom and now the time has come for me to pass the baton through taking on an apprentice of my own. Jill is out in Oklahoma and Kristin has her own family to worry about, so Andrew has the most availability to help and is the logical choice to continue the legacy started by my grandmother. When we moved into our new home three years ago, Andrew decided that he would help me each year and eventually accept the responsibility of fixing the turkey. Of course, that doesn’t prohibit Kristin and Jill from learning as well, but at least this way, somebody in the next generation will be able to carry on the tradition.
That means that this will be Andrew’s third year of helping me. Frankly, it seems much longer than that, and I figure I have at least another 7 or 8 years in me before I am ready to turn over the responsibility to anyone else, but the clock is ticking and time marches on – like it or not.
The big thing here is that you wouldn’t think it takes so many years to get it right – but then again, since you are only doing it once a year, some passage of years is to be expected. In a way, I feel a little like the Queen of England. Through a series of circumstances beyond my control, I starting leading in the kitchen long before I would have otherwise taken over. And now my run has spanned more than 4 decades with no end in sight. Who knows, God willing, I will still be making the Thanksgiving turkey for many years to come.
Long apprenticeships are not uncommon. Back in the early Jewish culture, priests spent years studying before they were able to serve beginning at age 30. Then, they worked for 20 years, until attaining the age of 50. But there was no talk of retirement. The priests who had done their 20 years of service then spent the next season of their lives training the younger men who had not yet entered their official roles as priests.
Jesus was another example of a long apprenticeship. Even though he was God in human form, His official ministry only lasted three years after having attained the age of 30 and during that time, He poured His life into the disciples and trained them for the mission that they were assigned after the ascension of Christ. Paul claimed that he spent three years after he was struck blind learning about Jesus before starting His ministry to the Gentiles.
And each of us as parents has a responsibility to train our children so they grow up with a strong faith and dedicated to Jesus. Our verse for this evening is from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. He tells us, in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” That takes time – a long journey of study and commitment to do the right thing.
My encouragement this evening is that God expects us to continue to learn about Him and work on our relationship with Him our entire lives. My prayer is that you will dedicate yourself to an ongoing study of the Scriptures and that you will allow others to apprentice under you as you follow God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…