ALL IN A SAUSAGE SKIN

There was a fat, white, pasty‑looking and extremely Anglo Catholic dean of my diocese when I was a child.  Whenever my mother cooked sausages for us she would say, as she put them into the pan all pale, pink, soft and pasty looking, "Look, here's Dean So and So before he heads off to the seaside on holiday."   When they were fat, brown, firm, and crispy and ready to be eaten, she would say, "Look, here is Dean So and So back from his holiday by the sea."  As children we thought this an excellent joke. I am still childish enough to think it rather funny.

 

The Weather Sausage

When I was at theological college we were served huge and fearsome sausages on Saturday nights.  They were called "Boerwors", farm sausages, a South African Dutch sausage.  They were long, black, spicy brutes, and unlike other sausages contained no sawdust, just a generous proportion of large gristle granules to dilute the coarse particles of real meat.   

 

They used to make us burp.  One Saturday night I took one of these sausages from the dining room and pinned it onto the door of a student who was coming in late that night.  I hoped that it would give him a fright hanging there black and comatose to greet him in the dark and that it would remind him of what he had missed.

 

He was not at all impressed.  All he did was pull it off the door and throw it out of the window on to the roof of the veranda below.  It stayed there for months and proved to be a very informative sausage.  It sent out a slow trickle of grease on hot days, went black in sunshine and white in the rain.  We all became fascinated by it.  You could tell the weather from it.  We were sorry when a crow spied it, ate it and burped and gurgled over it for hours in a nearby tree.

 

Parish Sausages

Sausages have played not a small role in the life of every parish I have been Rector of. Every first Sunday of the month a proportion of our congregation heads off for a barbecue somewhere in the district.  We walk or swim, drink local wine and devour local sausages.   In both of the country parishes I have been Rector of in Australia I have been asked to assist parishioners in the slaughter and butchering of pigs, an unpleasant and salutary business.   One of those I assisted made his own sausages and sometimes brought them to our barbecues.  They were a vile, mottled episcopal‑purple and pink when raw, but were full of real meat, imaginative spices and very tasty, to those with a sense of adventure, when cooked.

 

I have always loved good sausages, except for a short time when I was visiting a butcher regularly in hospital.  He told me of some of the indescribably nasty things that he put into his sausages.  It put me off them for a while, but not for long.  They are far too tasty to leave alone for any length of time, especially crisp‑cooked pork sausages.  Sausage, egg and chips were a good cheap staple meal when I was a poverty stricken teacher in London.  A meal of sausage and mash, with fried onion and lashings of gravy dispels any republican sentiments in me by its glorious Englishness.

The Sausage And Sin

Sausages are a clever way that butchers have evolved to make unpleasant meat tasty and useful.  All sorts of scraps and pieces of meat are stuffed into sausage skins.  They are minced and spiced and pushed in tight, and the result is usually delicious.   There is no meat wasted in a good butcher's shop.  It can all be used.  A sausage skin covers a multitude of sins.

 

A Tasty Metaphor

The Church is a gracious old lady who has attracted to herself many metaphors and similes down through the ages and I would like to suggest a new and tasty if not tasteful one.  The Church is like a sausage.  I love it.  I have never been able to stay away from it for long.  I love its buildings, its music, its services, its traditions, its parsons, its bishops, its organists, its choirs, its people, its God.  The Church, like sausages, has played a big part in my life.  And just as sausages are a resourceful expedient that butchers have evolved to make unpleasant bits of  meat tasty and useful, so is the Church a clever way that God has evolved to make unpleasant people tasty and useful.  As you find all sorts of scraps and pieces of meat stuffed into sausage skins, so you find all sorts and types of people in the Church ‑  big, small, good, bad, holy, unholy, beautiful, ugly, old, young, high church, low church..... every sort and type, all acceptable and good to be with because God loves them and because they are all trying to love or follow of believe in God. 

 

There need be no waste in God's world.  Everyone, every scrap and morsel of a person can be used and made something of in God's Holy Church, even a sausage freak like me.