Funnel Cakes and Fellowship

  • Jeff Crotts
Carnival Food stand

I am writing this post in the aftermath of taking a good number of my family to our Alaska State Fair.  I am going to admit up front that I was in protest of going this year.  My initial thoughts were, “been there, done that,” “it’s going to be expensive, any way you cut it,” and “it is going to be raining and raining and raining.”  But my protest was short-lived, and my reasons for not going were dismantled by a counter-protest, “It’s buddy day, so your buddy rides for free, as a two for one deal!”  And “the fair only happens once a year!”  And “my friends all got to go!”  And “I want to ride certain rides this time!”  

My hesitation continued… “gas makes for an expensive trip.” After all, we’re not living in the days of cheap-covid gas prices anymore. I also knew that these kinds of trips take time and that there really is no cap on impulse buys for food and games. Oh, and did I mention the rain? But it came down to not caring about the miserable weather and just putting on a good “frog tog” jacket and going! 

So, away we went.  And it was all that it promised to be: people-watching, random hellos from those you know, pricey gourmet booths, and the integrative smells of cotton candy and goat manure; which is awesome, right?  Judy and I also got to witness our kids suffer inner-ear equilibrium effects as they exited the G-Force ride.  

Okay, now on to the positive.  Watching my oldest adult son connect with his three younger brothers and reliving his prior experiences with them was priceless.  You cannot put a price tag on that, nor should you.  So, in this way, the fair, rather than being a negative experience as a sub-culture obligation becomes a non-negotiable investment.  However, there was an experience at the fairgrounds that could have distracted me from enjoying this priceless reality.  

Toward the end of our day, we all hit the Funnel Cake vendor.  And we all got $7.00 funnel cakes.  When I wrote this down a few days ago, I could still feel the effects of this heavy, oil-soaked mass working its way through my intestines.  I am convinced funnel cake is less food and more a scientific experiment that should be part of a Mr. Science program!  First, take the batter and load it with oil, bring it to a good sizzle and mask what you have done by lacing it with all kinds of powdered sugar and cinnamon.  When your test subject eats his way through at least half of his plate, you will have set an unstoppable chain reaction with lasting effects.  The blob of dough is chewed through to enter the intestines and then will reinflate once thoroughly lodged there.  This was my experience and not mine alone.  As writing, my oldest son was hitting me up for antacid pills.  

Okay, let me recast this satirical jab on funnel cake to a positive.  Paying in, time, money, the pain of weather, going upside down on the War Birds, and yes, eating greasy food all can have a purpose.  When you do this with your family on the outside, something truly irreplaceably amazing happens on the inside of your family.  They feel loved by you and uniquely connected to you.  Even getting sick together and laughing about it later completes the event.  I think I am learning that when you do the mundane things with your family and especially with your kids, you create a catalyst for what is truly meaningful.  

I believe it was for the same reason that we see Jesus eating with his disciples in several settings within the Gospels.  The wedding at Cana, eating with tax-collectors and sinners, feeding the five thousand and four thousand, and even making breakfast in the context of restoring Peter to fellowship.  Even right up to the end of Jesus’ time on earth, they ate together.  After Jesus was resurrected, he emphasized two priorities for His people before ascending to heaven. He focused on preaching and teaching the kingdom and having meals together with his disciples and the 120.  Fellowship like this followed on with the early New Testament church. 

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Act 2:42 ESV)

 My point is not meant to hype the practice of having meals with your family and your church, though these are good ideas.  I just want you to consider that making mundane investments can lead to making eternal investments.  Don’t miss these moments that God may be laying before you in the flow of your life. Often, they are the catalyst for a fellowship that is sweeter and more valuable than any funnel cake.