Jeff's Gingerbread Homily
Gingerbread Wedding Homily
Joel Yates and Katie French
Pastor Jeff Russell
Central Lutheran Church, Everett, WA
March 18, 2006
My favorite wedding story is an adaptation of an old German Folktale. It could just as well be an Irish, or Scottish, or Norwegian folktale for that matter. I have tailored it just for the two of you.
King Joel was having a very bad day. He bumped his head getting out of bed. He discovered a hole in the heal of his stocking that was the size of a marble. And he knew without asking that his breakfast gingerbread – gingerbread, that which he loved as much as anything in the world – would be crumbly again.
The king sat on the edge of his royal bed with his thumb through the hole in his stocking. His advisor, the Lord Dave entered the room, King Joel spoke, “It is time that my kingdom had a queen, and that I had a wife. She must be beautiful enough to please me, she must be wise enough to help me rule, and she must be a able to find a tailor who knows how to mend.
“A splendid idea your majesty,” said the Lord Dave.
Together they ate breakfast. Orange juice, a cheese omelet, and gingerbread. Gingerbread that crumbled. The King Joel frowned at the crumbs on his plate. “My queen must be more than wise and beautiful. She must also know how to bake gingerbread.”
Now it was the Lord Dave who sighed. For when Joel had become king he turned the kingdom inside out to find a gingerbread baker.
“There is anyone in my kingdom who can bake gingerbread so that it is neither too hard nor too soft, but just properly crisp.”
The king called for their horses, and away he and Lord Dave rode in search of a wise and beautiful woman. They found a princes who could bake a pie. And a princes who could bake a cake. But not one who could bake gingerbread.
And then the King met Princess Katie. She was the most beautiful and wisest of all. “Ah, King Joel,” Princes Katie cried as the King strode into her chamber, “I suppose you are seeking a wife?”
“I am indeed your highness. A wife who can bake gingerbread and who …”
“Oh no, I never bake gingerbread. But I am seeking a husband. He must be as kind as he is handsome, and he must know how to play the slide trombone.”
For a moment King Joel’s mouth made an “O” like the hole in the heel of his stocking.
“I cannot play the slide trombone,” he said at last. “But I can shoot an arrow as straight as the tail of a comet.” He took a deep breath.
“Then I am sorry to say,” said Princess Katie, “that a husband for me is the man who can play the slide trombone.
Her smile made him wish he could say, “Yes, I can!” But all he could do was bow and take to his horse once again.
In every single kingdom it was the same. No one could bake proper gingerbread. After months of brooding he realized that if he was to be married he must live without gingerbread.
The Lord Dave advised King Joel to go see the princess Katie once again.
“Excellent advise,” cried the king. “I shall go to see here at once.”
When Princes Katy heard why King Joel had come, she said, “Let me think about this. I am sure we can can to some sort of agreement.” Inside Princess Katie conferred with the Lady Stephanie. King Joel paced up and down. At last the Princess came to the door.
“It seems to me she said with a courtesy, “ that a husband who is as kind as he is handsome is more to be loved than one who can play the slide trombone.”
“And a wife, who is as wise as she is beautiful,” the king said quickly, “does not need to know how to bake gingerbread.”
They held hands together, and Princess Katie said, “Then let us add this our marriage vows: we must never again mention slide trombone …”
“or gingerbread!” King Joel finished with a hearty laugh that shook the walls of the castle.
They lived happily together for nearly a year, and ruled their kingdom as well as anyone could.
Until one day when everything went wrong. King Joel dropped the crown on his foot. Queen Katie awoke with a royal headache. The servants were ill. The cook slept late. The court painter put his head through their majesties’ new portraits, and the queens’ dog chewed up the new furniture. Outside, it snowed one minute and rained the next.
The king was angry. The queen was cross. They quarreled all day long.
“I wish,” King Joel shouted, “that you could bake gingerbread! Then at least something would be right about this terrible day.”
“And why,” cried Queen Katie, “can’t you play on the slide trombone? It would certainly help to calm my nerves.”
They glared at each other with anger and spite. The forbidden words had been said, their marriage vow was broken. They both turned around and took up rooms in the opposite ends of the castle.
They stayed there for days, feeling grumpy and sorry for themselves. Servants left food on trays near their doors, then scampered away before the door might open. Even the citizens of the kingdom knew that something was wrong in the castle.
At last queen Katie, looked at herself in the mirror. “The king married me more for my wisdom than my beauty. Now was it wise to shout SLIDE TROMBONE at him?”
At the other end of the castle, king Joel looked looked himself in the mirror while shaving and asked, “Truly the queen married me not because I was handsome, but because I was king. Was it too kind to shout GINGERBREAD?”
Before very long, from one end of the castle came the odor of scorched pots. From the other came sounds like an elephant blowing its nose.
The servants rushed in one direction holding their ears; in the other they rushed holding their breath. The citizens thought the world was coming to an end.
But then, in the middle of one night, the smells grew sweeter. At the very same time, the sounds became more pleasant. The servants hurried about with noses high in the air to smell the delicious aroma. They paused in their work to listen to the sweet sounds. The citizens of the kingdom began to hope for the future.
At last it was announced that their Majesties would come from the opposite ends of the castle and meet in the great hall.
With a blast of trumpets, the door at one end of the Hall swung open. In marched king Joel, with an apron around his middle, a baker’s hat on his head, and flour on his nose. He carried a pan of the most perfect gingerbread that had ever been baked.
Without any sound at all, the doors at the other end of the great hall opened. Through them stepped queen Katie. She raised a slide trombone to her lips, and played with such a melody that even the nightingales hushed.
From that very day, the first sound heard each morning was queen Katie’s slide trombone. The first scent was that of king Joel’s fresh gingerbread. The citizens arose each morning to sniff and listen. Their noses and their ears would tell them if all was still well in the kingdom. To the end of their days they were never disappointed.
Love is patient and kind. It does not insist on its own way. But it bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things.
King Joel and Queen Katie, that is the love of God. May that divine love always be reflected upon each of you as you look into the eyes of the other. Amen