Cranberry Sauce and the Resurrection

Creative Commons License photo credit: busbeytheelder

I noticed bags of cranberries in the produce department at the grocery store last week.

It’s not even Halloween, and already holiday meals are anticipated. Most people may not even notice the bags of fresh cranberries in the store. Most people, after all, get their cranberry sauce or jelly from an Ocean Spray can.

That’s how I knew cranberry sauce growing up: a red blob with the tin can shape intact. It didn’t look appealing, nor did it taste all that good. I vaguely remember it being a very tart goo. After trying it early on, I never did again. Why ruin an otherwise savory meal of turkey and dressing?

And then I began cooking my own holiday meals. Inevitably, somebody wanted “something cranberry” to go with the turkey. A few times, I’d purchase the obligatory cans. I never even thought homemade cranberry sauce was a feasible option. I thought it must be too difficult or too messy or something.

But one day—probably inspired by a cooking show—I decided to turn over the back of a bag of fresh cranberries. There was the recipe: sugar, water, cranberries, heat. It was so easy, so simple. And it produced something so fresh, so tasty.

I couldn’t believe I had been duped all these years by tin cans of red goo. (Mom, really, why didn’t you just make your own cranberry sauce?)

Earlier this week during a Bible study class, my friend and pastor talked about the fact that we are “resurrection people.” We possess the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Our dead bodies will be resurrected at the last day. We are new.

What does it mean to live as a resurrection people? I wondered.

As I tossed this question around in my mind, I came back to the cranberry sauce. The dichotomy between what I knew to be—and had settled for—as cranberry sauce and what cranberry sauce can really be.

The surprise in all of this to me was that homemade cranberry sauce is really, really good, yet I had never known it to be.

The canned sauce is merely a shadow—almost an imitation—of the real thing. It’s like boxed mac ‘n cheese or instant iced tea. The shadow retains some of the trappings and characteristics of the authentic, but is ultimately a hollow representation.

The cranberry sauce in a can? It’s a shadow of the feast that is to come. Homemade cranberry sauce? It’s nowhere near the banquet that awaits, but it’s a good reminder that canned cranberry sauce pales in comparison to the “real thing.”

Life in this world is full of shadows of that which is to come. To live as a “people of the resurrection,” we must not become too cozy here in the shadows. We mustn’t look to the things of this world to satisfy only that which Christ can. We must allow the shadows to prepare our hearts and offer anticipation for that which is to come.

And while I don’t think it’s necessarily a requirement, I heartily recommend eating homemade cranberry sauce every chance you get.