Cinnamon Rolls. Mama made them most Saturdays during my growing up years. My job was to stand on a stool, washing dishes, pots and pans while Mama mixed ingredients to provide both nutrition and nurture for her family. She rolled the dough, I rolled my eyes at one more Saturday stuck in the kitchen of the parsonage in DeKalb, Illinois. While I thought I rose no higher than the stool on which I stood, I’ve grown to realize that obedience lifted me to perform a sort of cleansing ritual at an altar called the kitchen sink. It never seemed to occur to either Mama or me that we had options.
Mama kneaded, flattened the dough, brushed on melted butter, generously sprinkled cinnamon sugar, rolled up and pinched the ends, then sectioned off a dozen to be baked for Sunday’s cinnamon rolls. She’d already baked loaves of whole wheat bread to go with Saturday night’s homemade soup, bread that would take us through ’til next Saturday’s ritual, a sacrifice of praise to God for her. For me, just a sacrifice. It was as if each Saturday morning, Mama lifted floured hands to the One who provides what we need for Life and gave thanks to Jesus through the way she performed the duty nearest at hand. Lined up loaves of whole wheat bread stood like visual reminders of the Living Bread that would sustain us all through the week.
When we were first married, I decided to pick up Mama’s baking mantle and surprise Jud with fresh cinnamon rolls. He was surprised… so were the birds who tried to peck one apart after I’d tossed them out the window. Whoever said, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again” never got clunked with one of my rolls. I swallowed my pride, not a roll, waved a white napkin in surrender and salute to Mama and generations of holy rollers in our Scandinavian family. I was reminded of my failure this morning as I enjoyed a cinnamon roll, fresh from a near-by bakery. We live in an age of specialization and mine is sampling the best cinnamon rolls I can buy or receive as a gift from friend or family.
A few weeks back, my friend, Mark Taylor, responded to a post entitled, “Catching Up.” After reading my brother’s notions on the hymn, Love Lifted Me, Mark commented about his experience as a child with the lyrics from When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.
Mark wrote, “I knew all about yeast rolls, which my Mother often made. I wasn’t sure what pyonder was, but I was all in favor of it. Call it a pyonder, if you want. When the roll is called a pyonder, I’ll be there—in line, to get one.”
If it’s true, and I believe it is, “that eye hath not seen, nor mind imagined what God has prepared for (His children),” then it doesn’t take much wondering to picture a possibility… a first Saturday in heaven, rich with the scent of cinnamon or cardamom and hot coffee. I imagine myself following the laughter until I’m smack dab in the middle of familiar faces, getting the life hugged back into me by the floured hands of some Holy Rollers. And best of all, I’ll see Jesus and Jud. Jesus, reaching for me with one hand while wiping frosting from the corner of his mouth with the other and Jud, grinning as he holds out one perfect cinnamon roll to me and says, “I saved you a pyonder.”
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