Hail to the Chef

By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from Psalm 34

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the humble hear and rejoice.

3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;
let us exalt his Name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.

5 Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are they who trust in him!

9 Fear the Lord, you that are his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,
but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

11 Come, children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 Who among you loves life
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking
and your lips from lying words.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them
and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and will save those whose spirits are crushed.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.

20 He will keep safe all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,
and none will be punished who trust in him.


In the public sphere, there are many debates on how we ought to govern our speech. Christians have a particular appreciation for the word, for in the beginning was the Word, and when God spoke, the world came into being. It would seem that with so much conversation around the printed and spoken word, the Christian might have something particular to contribute. Much of our current discourse is focused on what one shouldn’t say — what today’s psalm calls evil-speaking and lies — and this is certainly worthwhile. Christians can show how governing our mouths might be possible: rather than first focusing on emptying the mouth of all that is distasteful, instead first concentrate on filling it to bursting point with the word of God.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are at a dinner party. The table is heavy laden with sumptuous food, and though your mother raised you better, you simply can’t help but stuff your face. Who, when filling up on such succulent fare, would even consider sullying it with spoonfuls of saccharine or a bowl of sour grapes? When our mouth is full of what is good, there simply is no room — and no desire to make room — for what isn’t.

As Christians, we are called not to empty our mouths, but to fill them. When we encounter the feast that is the word in Scripture, we are to taste and see that the Lord is good. He has laid before us a mighty banquet. Fill your mouth with it and savor the taste. Then, if you can manage to say anything between bites, let it be to sing the praises of the chef to any and all who will listen.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have seven children and they live in Chicago.

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