The Gospel of the Hundred-Foot Journey: Changing the Recipe

I love good movies. I also love good food. A good movie about good food is a recipe for success because the story is almost always about more than what's on the plate. It's about the people.

The people in The Hundred-Foot Journey are a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, losses, and gains. The film's first hour feels unpromising. There are two destructive fires, one prejudiced message painted on a wall, and no guests at a restaurant's opening night. Thankfully, the good news begins to swallow the bad as the story builds.

The Hundred-Foot Journey tells the story of an Indian family who immigrates first to London, then to a village in France. Hassan, one of two adult sons in the family, has a natural gift for cooking. The family opens an Indian restaurant across the street from one of France's most acclaimed restaurants, run by one of the stiffest chefs in the country known as Madame Mallory. At first, jealousy, bigotry, and fear fuel a war between the two establishments.

However, good food, no matter how different the dishes may be, can become a path towards reconciliation. Hassan soon finds himself learning from Madame Mallory in her kitchen. She intends to teach him classical French cuisine. Hassan is grateful and respectful but also resourceful. He wants to learn without sacrificing his roots.

In one particular scene, Madame Mallory tastes a chicken dish that Hasan prepares. She had provided him with a very specific recipe, and immediately her palate tells her something is different. Hassan has added his own touch to the recipe. 

Madame Mallory: But why change a recipe that is 200 years old ?
Hassan: Because, madam, maybe 200 years is long enough.
— The Hundred-Foot Journey @ IMDB.COM

Every Sunday, congregations around the world gather around the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation and a feast of spiritual food in God's Word. We are many tribes and cultures, languages and traditions. What we share in common is our hunger.

One of the obstacles we face in the Church is well-summarized in Madame Mallory's question of her student: why change? While Jesus Christ does not change, and the Word of God will not pass away, the ways we prepare and share the good news in the Church must not become stagnant. Change is much more difficult than keeping things the way they've always been. Change can also introduce us to the flavors of God's love we have not yet experienced.

Yes, there are wonderful traditions within the Church that nurture us, 200+ year old recipes that are wonderful just as they are. There are also traditions different from ours that we might incorporate to enrich everyone's experience of God in worship. One of the most beautiful things about The Hundred-Foot Journey is how seemingly different groups of people really aren't that different. They love food. They love one another. The 100 feet between the restaurants is really not as far as it initially seems.

At a time in history where we see increased acts of bigotry and hatred around the world, the Lord's table is one place where we should be able to find refuge in love. Let us not let resistance to change prevent us from tasting all God's goodness. Let us find ways to change, and improve, the ways we share the good news and prepare the feast of the Lamb of God each week.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian