One of the comments I hear from the judges on Chopped most often is that individually, the components on a dish taste good, but it was not a cohesive dish. The various ingredients did not come together a unified whole. I feel that way a lot. My wife, for example, likes simplistic meals, like a “fried” chicken breast, a baked potato, and a salad. She is thrilled, but for me that is not a cohesive dish because there is nothing that weaves it together.
When I was pastoring, it was important for the service to be cohesive. Everything from the artwork on the front of the bulletin, to the music, the scripture, and the sermon needed to weave together so that everything worked together and wove together in a seamless manner. Doing so required time to plan my way through the process.
Developing a cohesive dish or an entire meal requires the same process. It all begins with the planning. If you want all the parts to come together in a timely and seamless manner, then it is important to take the time to conceptualize and plan things through.
Whether one is planning a worship service or a culinary meal, timing is an important factor. When I was planning a worship service, I always had to time things out in my head so that I stayed within the ascribed time for service. No one was happy if service ended late, especially on Super bowl Sunday. When hosting a dinner party, I always try to time things so I am not in the kitchen the entire meal. Rather, I actually get to sit and enjoy time with my friends. I also want to make sure that things are completed in the right order and that nothing gets cold. Worship was the same way, certain aspects of worship were “served” in a specific order and I tried not to let anything get “cold” or for worship to “cool off” unless it was supposed to do so.
What I came to realize is that when I plan things properly, then the day of the meal, it all seems to magically appear out of the kitchen. Nobody ever has to see the work I did throughout the week. Last Thanksgiving for example, I made one or 2 dishes everyday so that by the time Thanksgiving arrived, I was simply putting things in the oven to be baked and had a time schedule which assured that hot foods were hot and cold things were cold. Preparing for worship was the same way. I worked on things throughout the week so that I was not rushing to finish anything Sunday morning other than getting ready to go to the church and lead worship.
Planning a cohesive meal means that there is diversity in taste, texture, flavor and technique. So for example, if I am going to serve a heavier main dish (i.e. a steak smothered in a rich gravy, I will start with a light salad and light desert. I want my guests to be satisfied, but I don’t want to serve them rich and fat foods from start to finish. Similarly, if my sermon was going to be deep and reflective, I tried to keep the call to worship, music and other elements light and reverent.
In all that I do, even now with Inspiritual, I strive to focus on cohesion and connection. The theme for the month, which this month is connection, is what drives and brings the whole month together as a unified whole. However, some elements we offer throughout the month are easier to “digest” then others. The thought for the day might be a light appetizer as compared to one of the “heavier” blogs, which challenge one to sit with it for a while.
What is most important is that we practice noticing and seeing the connections in life. Whether we are talking about meals, worship, books, courses, or something else, this moth let’s look for the connections and appreciate how things are coming together as a cohesive whole in our lives.