Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Top Five Favorite Christmas Hymns

I grew up in a church tradition that sings a-cappella. In high school I participated in performance choir and a small group called the Madrigal Singers. In college I was in the a-cappella chorus for three years. I have always enjoyed singing and music.

My favorite Christmas hymns are, in order:

1. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

2. O Little Town of Bethlehem

3. O Holy Night

4. We Three Kings Of Orient Are

5. What Child Is This?

But my favorite piece of Christmas music is Handel’s Messiah.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon his shoulder.
And his name will be called
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and his peace there will be no end.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holy Is His Name (The Magnifcat) Music By John Michael Talbot

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
Any my spirit exalts in God my Savior.
For He has looked, with mercy on my lowliness.
And my name will be forever exalted.

For the mighty God has done great things for me.
And His mercy will reach from age to age.

And Holy, Holy, Holy is His name.

Holy, Holy, Holy is His name.

And Holy, Holy, Holy is His name.

(You can listen to this version for free by clicking on the link above and then Disc #1 Track # 9)

Very early in the Gospel of Luke, after Gabriel has announced the birth of Jesus to her, Mary breaks out into “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

This section (1:46-55) is called a song, and the song is called the Magnificat from the opening word in the Latin Vulgate version for “glorifies.”

In this song, Mary draws from Scripture.

It’s reminiscent, for instance, of Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, but these are not direct quotes.

Instead, it’s what comes out of a heart immersed in Scripture and Mary begins to understand the most important thing of all...

Nothing is impossible with God.

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Joy of Preaching

Occasionally a congregation that is in-between ministers will allow me to bore them to sleep for a few Sundays. I like for congregants to go away revived or wake up refreshed from my sermons - either is fine with me since I recognize the importance of a good 30 minute nap. My latest victim has been the West Akron Church of Christ.

This church has been in a minister search for a year or more. They have signed a contract with a new minister and he should arrive mid January and I will recede into the background until I am needed again.

This time that I have spent studying and preparing for these sermons has been great for me. It has allowed me to rethink foregone conclusions about the text and look at the Gospel with fresh eyes.

I love the freedom that comes from not being financially tied to a church. There is a freedom that comes with that. Not a freedom to behave or preach irresponsibly but a recognition that my livelihood does not depended on preaching “correct” sermons.

I am a firm believer that the Gospel can be preached in a challenging way without being deliberately offensive and to any audience – liberal, conservative, those entrenched in tradition and those not. And I have tried to do just that. So far they keep inviting me back.

But a break will be nice and I am glad that Westside has found a new minister.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Eggs over easy and four tortillas

I have seen Lyle Lovett several times in concert. He is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. You can tell from his music that he is a man that enjoys breakfast.

His song Nobody Knows Me is a striking tune and the first stanza is one of my all time favorites…

And I like cream in my coffee
And I like to sleep late on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby
And I like eggs over easy
With flour tortillas
And nobody knows me like my baby

Eggs over easy and four tortillas. I love a warm tortilla in my hand for breakfast. I really enjoy huevos rancheros.

One of my favorite breakfast dishes that I enjoy preparing when there’s company in the house are breakfast burritos.

You could probably assemble the dish the night before, wrap in plastic wrap and bake it off the next morning like an egg strata.

The Burritos

Dozen eggs
1/2 cup of whole milk or half & half
green/red pepper and half an onion (small dice)
8 large flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (Colby Jack)

Sauté the diced pepper and onion till soft. While that is cooking - in a mixing bowl add the eggs, a cup of milk or half & half and 1 tsp of salt – whisk together. Soft scramble the eggs until they just come together – remember they will firm up in the oven. Warm the tortillas and place the eggs and some cheese in each one and roll up. Place them in a buttered baking dish.

The Gravy

1 lb of your favorite breakfast sausage
1 TB spoon of flour
1 1/2 cups of whole milk or half & half - more if needed

Crumble and cook the sausage, pouring off all but 1 teaspoon of fat. Add the flour and continue to cook the sausage until the flour browns a bit. Stir in the milk or half & half a little bit at a time. Simmer, stirring till it thickens. Do not let it come to a boil. If it gets too thick just thin it a little.

Then pour the sausage gravy over the egg burritos and add a sprinkle of cheese to the top. Bake in a warm oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until things look bubbly. Serve with sour cream and a couple of salsas of varying heat on the side.

That, and some fresh fruit and you are all set.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Urban Herbs Gift Sets

My pal Dion Tsevdos owns a spices and herbs business, Urban Herbs, that has just the most wonderful products. His gifts sets make great holiday presents for the budding chef, the kneady baker or just someone who wants to cook with great spices.

His grill sets and chili sets can't be beat. I use his prime rib rub for every Sunday roast.

So if you are wondering what new utensil to get the cook in your life... get them the best herbs and spices you can find. The link to his website is in the title above.

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