The Ministry of Pancakes
I had a toddler at home and a baby in my belly. Most days I was crippled by pregnancy symptoms that made it difficult to put one foot in front of the other.
Can you think of a time when your circumstances were tough? Freeze-frame that memory in your mind for a moment. We’ll come back to it.
I had told some friends at church that I was struggling. Many of them looked at me sweetly and offered a genuine, although not very helpful hug or shoulder squeeze. While it is true that none of them could do anything about my exhaustion, nausea, or fear, I was desperate for someone to do something, anything, to help me.
And then a sweet lady in my church did. She called me late one evening and extended a strange invitation, “When you and Eli get up in the morning, come over in your jammies. I will make you pancakes.”
I could have said "no." I could have been too embarrassed to show up sporting my morning look of messy hair and mismatched pajamas. I could have kept my mask of perfection firmly glued on my make-up free face. But the pull of a breakfast I didn’t have to cook on dishes I didn’t have to wash was too much for me. The result was a steaming pile of pancakes loaded with butter and maple syrup, and a morning of ministry to my heart that filled me back up when I was empty.
That was the day I learned about the ministry of pancakes. I’m not talking in code here, not offering some deep theological truth. I’m simply saying we can be a balm to the hurting, the lonely, the sick, and the desperate through the simple gift of a hot breakfast. It’s an idea we can trace straight back to Jesus.
In John 21, we find the disciples fishing. Jesus had appeared to the disciples once after His resurrection and then presumably disappeared. Likely more as a coping method than a fish-finding mission, the disciples returned to what they knew: the lake, the boat, the fishing nets worn through with familiarity.
And then in John 21:9, we read that the disciples returned to shore one morning to find the Savior with a fire already burning, fish cooking, and bread ready to eat. “Come have breakfast,” he said (v. 12).
Now, I’ll take a steaming stack of pancakes over a fish breakfast any day, but the fact remains that Jesus tenderly reached out to His hurting and confused disciples through a simple, hot breakfast. Over that breakfast He confirmed His love, clarified their calling, and gave them a chance to clear the air.
In the midst of that He had an interesting conversation with Peter:
“Peter, do you love me?”
“Lord, you can see my heart. You know everything. You know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.”
That conversation was layered and private. I wouldn’t begin to try to figure out everything that was said (and unsaid) between Peter and Jesus. But I’ve always thought “Feed my sheep” could be translated this way—prove that you love me by taking care of my flock.
The super spiritual version of that means we are to feed others truth. Peter went on to pastor the Church. He did a lot of lamb feeding that had nothing to do with food. But what if we can boil Jesus’ words down to their simplest possible definition? What if we can love Jesus well by feeding others?
Think back to that hard time I asked you to freeze-frame in your mind. What would a stack of pancakes cooked by a caring friend have meant to you in that season? What would a hot breakfast prepared by loving hands have done for your soul? With that in mind, how could the ministry of pancakes bless someone in your world? How could you be like Jesus this week by simply offering to make someone breakfast?
I suppose those questions could stay rhetorical, but I’d rather they didn’t. I would rather you make a commitment to minister to someone in need through the practical step of cooking them breakfast.
I can’t make that phone call for you or run to your local grocery store to pick up the necessary supplies, but I can take out some guesswork.
My Very Favorite Buttermilk Pancake Recipe
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups buttermilk
½ cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Blend and drop onto a hot griddle.
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