I once read the Bible from cover to cover. I was in my teens and very serious about my faith. So, I decided to start with Genesis and read to Revelation. At times, it was a challenge. Some parts of scripture, like the long descriptions of how to build the tabernacle in Exodus or the lists of descendants in Numbers felt endless. What I loved about the task, however, was feeling like I was coming to know the text that was core to my Christian belief.
Recently, someone asked me what I loved most about my time studying at Virginia Seminary. I answered the question by talking about the Bible. Scripture study is one of the areas for which VTS is known. I feel as though a passion for biblical study was instilled in me during my time in seminary. While I didn't re-read every word of the Bible in seminary, I read MOST of it.
So, when I learned about the Bible challenge, I got very excited. I am looking forward to reading the Bible from cover to cover again - with you. I've created a Bible Challenge tab on the website which will contain the daily readings. And, we can use this blog to talk about what we are reading and to reflect together.
I will write several reflections per week - and invite others to contribute. If you are interested in sharing your reflections, please let me know.
Two years ago today, David and I met in the International Departures area of Dulles Airport. We were both part of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and were awaiting the first leg of our trip - a flight to London. Memories of that meeting are very clear for both of us.
I was starving (this will surprise no one who knows me!) and decided I'd go find a snack. I came back to my friend Anne with two tacos, along with some chips and guacamole. There I was, up to my elbows in dripping tacos, when David came by to say hello to our little group and introduce himself. After greeting us, he took one look at me and said, "You look like a girl who could use some napkins," and went off to find me some. When he returned, I replied, "You look like a boy who could use some guacamole," and shared my snack with him (and the others around us).
Neither of us had any inkling in that moment that less than three weeks later, we would be talking about a future together. Our love for one another developed as we walked, talked and prayed together around the holy sites of the Holy Land.
Last year, we decided that we should always commemorate this day with Mexican food of some kind. There's not a Mexican restaurant in Coos County, so we opted to cook at home tonight. Our menu - soft tacos with homemade refried pinto beans, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes. Perhaps not the simplest (or cheapest) vegetarian meal, but true to our tradition!
Refried Beans [From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, Wiley (c) 2007.]
1/4 C olive oil
3 C cooked pinto beans (I used 1 can, drained and rinsed - I planned to cook dried beans, but I simply ran out of time this week.)
1 C chopped onion
1 T cumin
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onions, and cook about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown.
3. Stir in the cumin and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Add the beans. Mash them with a fork or potato masher. They will heat through as you mash.
5. Top with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
Guacamole [Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, Wiley (c) 2007, based on what I actually had in the house.]
2 avocados, sliced in half, and pitted
approx 1/3 cup chopped onion (I used the rest of the onion from the refried beans)
cilantro (about 1/4 fresh - I only have cilantro in a tube)
1. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a bowl or mortar and pestle. Mash well.
2. Add onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt. Mix well.
3. Taste. Add more of whatever you need to enhance the flavor.
I love Ash Wednesday. I've been reading differing views about this day during quiet moments throughout the day. Some love it - others hate it - finding it too gloomy and depressing. As I said in my sermon this morning, I need this yearly reminder of how to live. Ash Wednesday resets my internal compass and re-orients me back towards God.
I feared the busyness of this day might prevent my from actually cooking - but I was able to get home for a few hours. David responded to the question, "Rice and Beans or Pad Thai?" with an enthusiastic "Pad Thai!" Lacking a few ingredients, this isn't authentic Pad Thai, but it is a simple way to cook rice noodles and tofu. (And, for the purists, isn't strictly vegetarian, as it contains 2 tablespoons of fish sauce).
Adapted Pad Thai (feeds 4) - [Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, Wiley, (c) 2007.]
12 oz flat rice noodles
peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
8 oz pressed tofu, cut into small cubes (pressing the tofu helps it to absorb flavor - you can do this by putting a plate on it, and a can on top of the plate - best done in the sink or with drainage!)
1 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
For the Sauce
2 T fish sauce
2 t ketchup
2 t sugar
For the Topping
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 c fresh cilantro (I only had cilantro in a tube, so I added it to the sauce!)
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Place the rice noodles in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, or so. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
2. Stir fry the tofu and broccoli in oil - start the tofu and add the broccoli after 3-4 minutes. You want the to tofu to begin turning a lovely golden brown before putting in the tofu.
3. When the broccoli is bright green, remove the tofu and broccoli to a bowl.
4. Put the softened rice noodles into the hot pan, with a bit more oil (less than a T) then add the sauce ingredients. (I mixed them together ahead of time, but the recipe did not call for doing so.)
5. When the noodles are heated through, add the tofu and broccoli back in.
6. Serve topped with chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice.
The alternative Old Testament passage for Ash Wednesday is from the prophet Isaiah (58:1-12, if you'd like to read the whole thing). The passage that I've been meditating on for the last couple of weeks reads as follows:
6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
It's preceded by a collection of verses where God (speaking through Isaiah) chastises the people for fasting to suit their own purposes, all the while oppressing others in their midst. This year, we want our Lenten discipline to make a difference. This year, it's not enough for us to simply give up something we care about.
This year during Lent, David and I have decided to eat more simply. For us, that means eating less food and mostly vegetarian. We're going to try to cook at home more, to eat smaller portions, and to have the meals we prepare for ourselves be vegetarian.
We'll use this blog space to share what we do, to post pictures of the food we prepare, and to list the recipes we make, in case you'd like to join us periodically.
At the end of Lent, we plan to make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development, using the money we saved from eating in our usual way, to essentially share our bread with those who are hungry. We hope you'll join us.
I'm in New York City for a few days, interviewing seminarians for our summer North Country Rural Ministry Internship program. It's amazingly warm here, both in terms of the weather, and in terms of the welcome I have received from the General Seminary Community.
Last evening, I gave a presentation on the internship, and as a result, several students are interested in the program. I will meet with more students at lunch, and then interview those who are interested this afternoon.
The Internship is a great chance for those students interested in rural ministry and small parishes to gain hands-on experience.
This was the thrid year we celebrated All Saints Day in part by lighting candles during the service and saying the names of our personal saints who have gone on to glory. Many of us were tearful, and there was much hugging and passing of tissues. it was as if our little community of Christians was drawn close together with other wonderful people in that "cloud of witnesses" that have come before us.
Then in the afternoon the bishop came to ordain Richard Davenport, our recent seminarian, to be a deacon.
It is wonderful to be part of a Christian family that has deep roots in history and lots of new shoots and branches springing up strong, all at the same time! ~ Betsy Hess, Sr. Warden
Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was raised with the tradition of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. All Saints' Day was for the Big Letter saints - the famous ones. You know the types: St. Francis, St. Paul, St. Barnabas (of course). And All Souls' Day was for everybody else.
In the Episcopal Church, we do it a bit differently. On All Saints' Day, we celebrate ALL the saints, living and dead. At least at St. Barnabas, we use All Saints' Day to give thanks for those who have touched our lives, in the Church's past (I call them the Capital Letter Saints), in the life of our congregation, and those, living and dead in our own lives, whose examples draw us into a life in Christ.
In our liturgical calendar, we also have a day dedicated to remembering "The Faithful Departed." It's on the same day as the Roman Catholics celebrate All Soul's Day. It's a much less well known feast than All Saints' Day. In my mind, it gives us one more chance to give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses - those people who live lives of quite faith and who have carried on the faith and work of the church for nearly two millennia.
So, on this day, we give thanks for the faithful departed - for their lives, their faith, the work and their witness.
At St. Barnabas, we believe that all people are always welcome. No matter who you are or where you've come from, you will find that our doors are wide open and so are we. Here at "The Open Door" folks from St. Barnabas will be reflecting on life, faith, our church community, really whatever strikes their fancy. We hope you will come on through our open door and join us.