I couldn’t believe she was coming to our home group. “Why tonight?” I moaned to my husband. “Why when I have a special Christmas message prepared?”
It wasn’t that I’d actually met Angela, but her reputation had spread like wildfire.
“She’s from a town back east.”
“Her parents sent her here – to the group home in Chester Street. They hoped she’d calm down if she had more company.”
“She came to our Sunday school class and was so loud and disruptive.”
“I’ve heard she has ADHD and behavioural problems.”
It was easy to judge someone on the basis of gossip and my heart sank even further when she arrived in a flurry of noise. She looked to be about twenty. Short in stature, stubby limbs, flat features and a lion’s mane of strawberry-blonde hair. She had a well-used Bible tucked under her arm and was circling the room. “Good evening,” she greeted me, thrusting a pudgy hand forward and pumping my arm up and down. “I’m so glad to be with you folk tonight.”
After a time of worship, I started on my message. “God has given us all different personalities and gifts and if we allow Him to, he will blend us together. It’s almost like making a cake. We take an assortment of ingredients and mix them…”
“I know how to do that.” Blurted Angela. “I work for a bakery.”
I nodded politely as I removed a crisp, white cloth from the coffee table. “I have here, the ingredients to make a Christmas cake.” There was a brief pause as everyone’s eyes took in the laden bowls of cherries, dried fruit and nuts. The jug of heavy, brown sugar, the bowl of pristine flour, the slab of yellow butter and clutch of creamy, white eggs. “I’m going to mix up the cake as a picture of how God works in our lives. Of how he sifts and stirs…”
“I can do that.” Angela’s voice cut across mine. “We’ve been baking Christmas cakes for weeks now and…” her voice trailed off and she slumped back in the chair. “Sorry. I’m talking too much again.”
It was at that precise moment that I heard God talking to me. Let her help. Let her share my message. I hesitated, after all this was my evening, my moment in the lime-light. Then shame washed over me. How could I let pride interfere with sharing God’s word, with being obedient to Him?
“Angela, I’d like you to help. Come over here by me.”
Happiness rolled across her face as she joined me. As I handed her the mixing bowl and wooden spoon and started giving directions. “The first ingredient to go in is…”
“I have an idea. If we’re like God’s ingredients, why don’t I give everyone something to put in the cake?”
I nodded slowly. “Good plan, Angela. Go ahead.”
Her eyes danced round the room, buzzing with excitement as she matched people with ingredients. “You two have white hair.” She said to Charles and Doreen. “You can be my flour.” She grasped Tina’s hands and looked into her eyes. “I think you have a soft heart so you can hold the butter…and I see sweetness inside you.” She handed the jug of sugar to Jolene.
I was amazed at the depth of her perception. At the way she pinpointed our strengths. All around the room, people were smiling, cradling nuts and cherries, butter and flour. Finally she stopped by me and cupped my hands together. “You can be an egg.” She said, placing one in my hands. “Eggs are protein and they make people strong. You share God’s words and they also make people strong.”
She had brought my message to life. Given it power and ensured that none of us would ever forget that night. I turned to thank her but she was back in her seat. Draped limply over the cushions, effervescence leaking like air from a balloon. “I’m not an ingredient.” She said sadly. “I don’t fit in.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, washing out the last traces of the misconceptions I’d absorbed, the slander I’d listened to, the attitude I’d developed. I slipped into the kitchen and came back with a squat tub of marzipan. “Angela,” I said, “You do fit in here and you are important.” Murmurs of agreement circled the room as I gently pressed the tub into her hands. “And that’s why you’re the icing on our cake.”
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