Who are you?

Emily:

Amazing sermon I heard yesterday: “Who are you?” via colleague Dane Boston

Originally posted on That Blessed Dependancy:

A Sermon Preached on the Third Sunday of Advent, December 14, 2014

by the Rev’d Canon Dane E. Boston, Trinity Cathedral Columbia, South Carolina

Texts: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28

May I speak in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Who are you?

That’s the deceptively simple question posed by the priests and Levites in today’s Gospel passage. They have come down from Jerusalem—down from the precincts of the Temple and from the carefully ordered life of the Holy City—into the wilderness. They have come down to ask John the Baptist that three-word question: “Who are you?”

But the very fact that they have come all this way—the fact that they have left the seat of their own power and prestige to interrogate a wild prophet in a wild place—shows just how important the question is, and how much is…

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Making Bread: A Magical Recipe for Cinnamon Swirl

Emily:

posted a year ago; been dreaming about this bread recently–its texture is heavenly & its spices divine!

Originally posted on hope of things not seen:

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(photo including said-bread.  shot from yesterday’s breakfast-in-bed, thanks to sweet husband)

Today, I’m doing a lot of bread-sharing, so while I’m celebrating with many dear people on this feast of St. Lucy, here’s a recipe I made last night for cinnamon swirl bread.

As any devoted American Girl knows, the Scandanavian way to celebrate December 13th is to don a wreath of lit candles and to serve one’s family delicious baked goods (or at least, that’s what Kirsten taught us…).

Having just recently finished a book in my favorite genre (memoir-and-recipes), and having the charge of reviewing it (therefore being totally required to make at least one recipe in it), I present Milton Brasher-Cunningham‘s “Refrigerator Rolls”-dough-with-Emily-tweaks-into-Cinnamon-Swirl-Loaf!  Viva Lucia!

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (makes 2 generous 9×5″ loaves)

In a huge bowl combine: 4 cups warm milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water

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Quotation of the Day

One of the comments on my last post reminded me of this prayer of Thomas Merton’s:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think that I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

It’s too hard! (that’s what she said)

Often enough, I sit in my lovely little home on a quiet street in semi-suburbia in the South, with two cars in my driveway, a computer on my lap, and more food than I know what to do with in my fridge (same with clothes in my closets–plural.  It’s an old house, they’re small closets!), and I’m haunted.

“When was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” Say the humble, unknowing righteous people of Matthew 25 to God at the final day.

The unrighteous, the chapter in the Gospel of Matthew goes on to tell us, say almost the same thing–wondering when it could have been that they’d been faced with their Lord and Master but not provided succor.

At the end of a day, pouring a glass of wine and flipping through a magazine, I can’t help but ask myself, “What’s God going to say about this thing you’re doing?” “How are you finding and helping Jesus now?”  “How can you be so selfish?”  One answer, which a wise priest gave me a year ago, is that these are accusing voices, not convicting voices–which gives one a clue whence they come (hint: God doesn’t do “accusing;” it’s not his thing).

The answer that struck me last night, though, is that it’s just a temptation to say to myself, “Oh, I should be in China, risking my life every day for Jesus!”  or “If only I was cooking for every sick and hungry person in Columbia, right NOW!”  Not only is this overwhelming and makes me end up saying,

“Good Lord, that’s too hard!”

But it’s also fruitless, futile.  I want to just throw my hands up in the air, give up the whole thing.  Crawl into bed, pull up the covers, wish for the Good Lord to return immediately.  All this work!

The only thing anyone is really asked to do is what’s right in front of her or him.  When I’m sitting in front of my husband, eating dinner, at least I can give him my full attention, not emotionally vomit the contents of my day on him, be present to him as if he was Jesus.

The best thing I can do is to focus on the moment right in front of me–not indulging in escapism by flogging myself for not being in Africa–to pay attention to where Jesus is meeting me in front of me.

Most of us are asked to submit to transformation in small and slow ways, not block-buster ones. Though it might be easier, from some measures, to simply sit overwhelmed by dramatic and self-flagellating commitments, the everyday work of treating those normal people in our lives (our families, our co-workers, our neighbors) like Jesus, in the end, isn’t nearly as romantic, nor as overwhelming.   It’s “small,” but it also demands consistent discipline to focus on what’s real and right in front of us.

It’s just hard enough ;-)

Quotation of the Day

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God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:1, 10

In a phase of frustration & discouragement, this mantra challenges me to put my trust where I’ve bet my life, in God’s hands.