Easter dates??

There has been some discussion recently in the media about fixing the date of Easter with some saying it should be, and others saying it should follow the current “moving about”

Well, I’m probably in the camp of “It should be Fixed” but how?

Here’s why…

but before I start, please remember that I am not a theologian and therefore do not have all the relevant “facts” (there’s plenty of different theories to read on Wikipedia) but there are a few simple pointers which indicate to me that we should remember Easter on a fixed time-frame as we do Christmas.

Firstly, the name Easter originates from a pagan goddess named Eostre and was celebration of the arrival of spring.  Most non English speaking countries use a form of “Pascha” of Pesach (Hebrew) and fell usually in the month of April which was known as the “Paschal” month.  This is due to Jesus being crucified just before the Passover.  So I certainly would not object to a name “Correction”, but that is a separate issue, the important thing is that we remember that Christ died for us and rose from the dead.  If you are a regular church attender then you will be doing this each time you participate in the Communion breaking of bread and the wine.

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Secondly – Jesus was very probably, almost definitely NOT crucified on “Good Friday”.  We have taken this day to be the day before the Sabbath as recorded in the Bible, but we forget that the Passover took place on a fixed date in the Jewish calendar; the 14th of Nissan, the first month of the Hebrew year.  This means that the Passover would have moved days of the week as does Christmas.  In addition it says in John’s account of the crucifixion that it was a “Special Sabbath” being the Passover, (John 19 v 31) not the usual Sabbath which commences on Friday evening through to sunset on Saturday.  Historians looking back to the likely year of Jesus crucifixion have confirmed that the Passover that year would have commenced either on the Thursday (or possibly the Wednesday) meaning that Jesus was crucified on either of these two days with at least two days of Sabbath following, one the “special” and one the usual.  This also explains people’s difficulty in accounting for Jesus rising again on the third day, being Sunday, the first day of the week.  There would have been at least two, maybe three days of Sabbath before the women were able to go to the tomb, and people began moving about again.

So: should we have a “Fixed” day in our calendar, as we do Christmas? (which incidentally has the same issues in that it is a date chosen to replace the Winter festivals – Jesus was probably born around September time but that is a whole other debate)

In the UK we have two holidays, the Friday (which we call “Good Friday”) where we traditionally commemorate the Crucifixion.  We Celebrate the resurrection on the Sunday with an additional holiday on the Monday, so should we therefore have two fixed date holidays about 3 days apart as we do with Christmas? or do what we do with other holidays and fix say “the last weekend in April” or something similar so it is at least around the same time.

Do we tie it in with the Passover celebrations? This year we have Easter Sunday on the 27th March but Passover does not commence until April 22nd, so personally I would have thought Easter should at least have been that weekend.

There are lots of arguments for and against fixing the date or leaving it movable, some relating to our academic year in that the school holiday timetables can get a bit complicated depending on when Easter falls, so I think it would be practical at least on that basis too to have it fixed.  It can be awkward trying to check when it falls each year and as it varies so much we can be the height of Spring, or just crawling out of Winter (mind you in England it always rains on Bank holidays so would probably make no difference to people wanting to get the first gardening jobs done)

After saying all this though, the important thing is that we do take time out of our busy lives to remember what Christ did for us.  Sadly in the UK as with Christmas, it has become more about Chocolate and bunnies and except for Easter Sunday, for many people a normal day, many churches even no longer have any form of service on “Good Friday” whereas I can remember the weekend was usually packed with special meetings.  Shops and Supermarkets are open as usual – but HEY! Sunday is coming and we WILL rejoice in our Risen Savior who has given us new life through the shedding of His precious blood and His victory over death.

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Rhubarb Loaf Cake

I made this yummy cake last night and following requests for the recipe; here it is….

I have loads of Rhubarb chopped up in bags in my freezer and as we are not “regular” pudding eaters (trying not terribly successfully to control our weight) I thought I had better try and use some before the next crop starts appearing.  We only have one plant but it seems to be extremely happy where it is and grows like a mad thing (great for our Rhubarb Chutney) so when I was sorting the freezer yesterday I took a bag out to use and decided to try and make a cake.

The first thing I did was tip the already chopped and frozen rhubarb into a saucepan and cooked it until all the liquid had boiled off and I had a nice thick puree.

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Yes I know it does not look terribly appetising but this bag of rhubarb was fairly green so not a great colour.  I added a bit of ginger powder and about a teaspoon of the sugar we had saved from some crystallised ginger.

I then set this aside to cool.

When it had cooled I made a basic cake mix – I used a 2 egg mix but I think if I make this again I will use a 3 egg  mix.

For my cake mix method see:

Anyone for cakes????

Oh – you want to know how much rhubarb? truth is I forgot to weigh it before I started but I think it would have been about 2 good size sticks.

Anyway, I added the cake mix to the pureed rhubarb and mixed it all together

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Oh – and for this cake to make it a little “healthier” I used wholemeal self raising flour (because it was next to the caster sugar in the cupboard)

I lined a 2lb loaf tin with paper and popped it in the oven at 160 degrees

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Again this is something I was learning as I went along… After 45 minutes it looked like this..

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but I decided it needed a little longer as when I took it out it was quite floppy so in total it took just over an hour.

I would therefore put it in at slightly higher temperature – but no higher than 180 when making this again, but eventually it looked like this…

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We were a bit impatient to try it with our cup of tea so I cut a couple of slices and we had it warm (would have been very nice with a dollop of ice cream if we had any…)

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Very yummy!   I’m going to have to make this again very soon to try the variations I have thought of – that is, use a 3 egg mix and bake at a slightly higher temperature.  Now I mixed the rhubarb in well but you could always “marble” it or perhaps layer it by putting in half of the cake mix, then the puree and the rest of the cake mix on top,  go on… experiment, its fun!! If you don’t like Rhubarb then try raspberries or whatever fruit you fancy.

 

 

The Box of Burgers: Burger Soup

I’ve posted before about the box of burgers that we acquired which were leftover from the church barb-e-que last summer and all the different thing I have used them for…meatballs, sausage rolls, “Toad” in the hole, as well as roasting them with some gravy, but I still have a lot in the freezer (it was a big box)

The other day I was contemplating what to do with some celery and carrots that were sitting in my fridge needing to be used when I started to develop the idea of making some soup.  What else could I put in it? I still have quite a lot of these burgers in my freezer (the drawer is quite heavy to pull out) so I started thinking along the lines of breaking up a couple of these into the soup along with some leftover passata that I had frozen.

Saturday morning arrived and I had promised myself a lazy slow start to the day following a hectic couple of weeks and fighting off a “sniffle” so I switched on the TV and found that one of my favorite food programs was on – Pioneer Woman.

Imagine my surprise when she proceeded to make Beefburger soup!!! just what I had been thinking of making.  I have not seen this episode before as we are about a year behind in the UK and she was using pretty much the same ingredients that I had (plus she had a few more and she used fresh mince rather than burgers)

So here’s what I did:

I defrosted two burgers (they are quite big – quarter pounders I think) and began to gently fry them and break them up in my casserole pot (no need to add any oil as enough fat would come out of the burgers)

I then chopped up one red onion, two sticks of celery, three small carrots (don’t bother peeling, just scrub them clean) I chopped these quite finely so that they were a similar size to the mince.

I also had a bunch of VERY sad looking spring onions, so rather that waste these, I took the outer layer off and found that they were still quite fresh and green underneath so I chopped these up and added them in.

I had some passatta which was left over in a carton in the freezer so I added some boiling water to dissolve and poured it into the casserole dish.

I added some salt and pepper and a stock cube (although I would now probably leave the salt out as the stock cube is quite salty,  A teaspoon of mustard and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and let this cook for a while.

Now I did not want this until later, so I transferred it all into a slow cooker and left it to simmer away for a couple of hours.

When it came to time to dish up, I added some gravy thickening granules to thicken it up a little and served with a slice of bread and butter.  YUM!!!

This provided a generous portion for hubby and a nice portion for me, with the leftovers going into a freezer container for another day.

 

I shall definitely be making this again

Songs of ???

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Most Sundays we will watch a TV program called Songs of Praise and most weeks have varying degrees of “enjoyment” – quite often I can get a rough idea of how the program is going to go depending on who the presenter is and the “topic”

Sometimes unfortunately I wonder what relevance the program has to Christianity at all when they decide to “celebrate” some person or thing or event in history so was excited to see a couple of weeks ago that they were visiting an organisation which was close to our heart.  We watched eagerly and enjoyed the sections relating to our “friends” and the amazing work that God does there in changing lives, but we felt that the dynamic message was lost by the swapping backwards and forwards to other topics or a recording of a hymn which sometimes appeared to be being sung by people who were bored – probably because it was so rehearsed for the cameras with complex arrangements by a conductor that it was losing it’s meaning.

Some of the presenters we know have a shall we call it “strong faith” others, you wonder if they are just “presenting”.

As I said sometimes we wonder what the relevance of a song is, how is it considered to be worship? and sometimes it does not appear to have any meaning and it is merely a piece of music. Sometimes as in this weeks episode, we have what can only be described as the extreme opposite.  Cut to the scenes of a large gathering with musicians jumping up and down, lots of flashing lights, graphics,  and the congregation jumping up and down and this was being portrayed as “Modern Worship”

Now don’t get me wrong, jumping up and down and dancing and making loud music to worship God goes all the way back to the Old Testament when the Psalmist wrote:

Praise his name with dancing; play drums and harps in praise of him (Psalm 149 v 3)

Praise him with loud cymbals (Psalm 150 v 5)

I’m not sure if jumping up and down quite qualifies as “dancing” but then David danced and jumped around in 2 Samuel 6 v 16 (much to his wife’s disgust)

But this is not the reason in itself for my concern.

Many years ago (about 20+) my husband and I were involved in the music/worship team in our church (we still are now so know that it is impossible to please everyone with your choice of song or style of music) and one week someone else stepped in to lead as the person who usually led was away and we were in the congregation.  I think it was the first time that this particular person had lead and he had another person working with him.  Hubby and I were both shocked to realise that the congregation’s attitude appeared to us as “Oh!, X is not here today, so the worship is not going to be any good so I’m not going to bother”.  I tell you, both of us sang as loud and hard as we could, not only to make up for what we perceived as a lack of effort from the rest of the congregation, but to encourage the two people who were nervously giving their best to try and lead in worship and bring people into God’s presence.  We had been blessed previously with talented musicians and I had previously been in a much larger fellowship which had some “professional” level musicians, but we realised then that some people were worshiping the music and not God.  Yes the skillful playing helps and we practice hard to try and do our best to make an acceptable offering to God and not damage peoples ears but that is not the focus.

When I watch some of these programs or perhaps visit another church, I sometime get the feeling that it is all about the music or the musicians, not God.  You see some doing their “piece” in the middle of a song, and can’t help feeling that it’s “Look at me/us, aren’t we amazing musicians.  Look at all the whizzy lights and graphics show.

Now sometimes these things are appropriate and are certainly attractive to a lot of people.  I have enjoyed going to some concerts by some well known Worship leaders/Songwriters but that is what they are – a concert, and depending on the person you are sometimes lead into worship as they draw people to focus on God rather than them.

Similarly there are some other songs which I shall call “the look at me, aren’t I marvelous I’m going to heaven” songs.  Again, there is a place for these.

I have been in “church” long enough to remember the “Hymnbook sandwich” format of Hymn, Prayer, Hymn, Reading, Hymn (offering), “Musical Item” or perhaps a couple of “modern” chorus’s (a bit of a sing song), Sermon and then Hymn and have watched the change in Worship format over all these years and yes I like many of the modern songs as well as some of the older ones. Even some of the old Hymns you wonder what they are talking about and of course they were “Modern” in their day.

Corporate worship as in singing Hymns together apparently was not common in English churches until around the early 1800’s.  Previously there had been traveling singers who would travel round the different churches, so there are still comparisons today.

I have read blogs where people are questioning why congregations seem to have lost the art of singing together and this is possibly why – they don’t know the song, the song is not actually a worship song which is meaningful in drawing us to God.  Is it scriptural? does it reflect how people are? Does the song still focus on God in a way which regardless of how people are feeling they can still worship Him for his goodness and grace?

I still remember a lot of songs which were based on scripture, they are a great way to get God’s word into you, and you can often remember a song more easily than learning a memory verse (except that you usually can’t remember the scripture reference)

As for me, worship has to be about Him, not us.  We may occasionally sing songs rejoicing in what God has done and give thanks for where we are now but the essence is His Worth-ship

I’ll leave you with Matt Redman’s song – When the Music fades…It’s all about You Jesus

 

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=when+the+music+fade&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002

Genesis 6 v 11 -13: The End is coming

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But everyone else was evil in God’s sight, and violence had spread everywhere.  God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives.  God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to the whole human race.  I will destroy them completely, because the world is full of their violent deeds (v 11-13)

We look at some of the things going on in our world today and despair at what we see.  Corrupt leaders, fighting and murders, greed, immorality, a lack of care for our fellow man.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like in Noah’s time for it to have been so bad that God decides to destroy everything.  How Noah must have struggled to keep himself close to God when everyone around him was doing whatever they wanted, worshiping other “Gods”, killing each other with hatred and selfish greed.

We saw in a previous post that Noah had tried to “preach” righteousness but no one listened.  “God wants to spoil our fun”, “Everyone else is doing it”  “I have a right to do what I like” – can you hear those same comments today?  Our laws now allow things which God says are not right.  Corrupt leaders kill those who oppose them, babies are murdered before they are born for “convenience”.  People demand the right to have things which they have not earned or to do whatever they want to do.  We have lost our way as our leaders have tried to please the people instead of God.

Moses had so many problems with the people of Israel who were fickle and followed their own desires instead of God.  Complaining so much about what they thought they should have, that he said in Deuteronomy 31 v 29:

I know that after my death the people will become wicked and reject what I have taught them.  And in time they will meet with disaster because they will have made the LORD angry by doing what he has forbidden

They had a history of wandering off or descending into sinful lives as soon as he was not around.  While he was with God on the mountain seeking Gods instruction for them they began to make new idols because they did not want to wait for the word of the LORD and Aaron was too weak to correct them.  In Exodus 32 v 7;

The LORD said to Moses, “Go back down at once, because your people whom you led out of Egypt, have sinned and rejected me.

Notice that God refers to “Your” people, not “My” people, they have rejected him and gone their own way as soon as Moses was not around.  In the days of Egypt when they cried out to Him, he says “Let MY people go”  It had not taken long for their hearts to wander away and lust after the things they had or thought others had that they wanted.  They were no longer seeking after him and chose to desire other things instead of God so He is forced to disown them.

God vows to destroy them but Moses pleads with him to spare them and God relents, but when Moses asks who of the people will stand with him on the LORD’S side, only the Levites stood with him so God then uses the Levites to punish them.  Moses goes back up to plead for forgiveness on their behalf asking God to remove him from the book of names of God’s people.  God replies that it is only those who have sinned against him who will have their names removed.( see also Deuteronomy 9 v 13 onwards).

Noah pleaded with people to repent and turn to God but they did not want to know.  we don’t know much about the lives of his ancestors but we do know that the world had become increasingly Godless during that time, each generation was worse than the previous and yet it was only 7 generations!  This trend is repeated throughout the Bible.

Judges 2 v 19 – But when the leader died, the people used to return to the old ways and behave worse than the previous generation

It was the same in Ezekiel’s time:

Ezekiel 7 v 23 – Everything is in confusion – the land is full of murders and the cities are full of violence.

We are seeing repeatedly even in these first few chapters of the Bible that God wants a heart that follows Him.  He knows we are human and make mistakes but he will forgive us if we seek after him.  He want us to love him first, to strive to be righteous in His sight and then he can bless us (Matthew 6 v 33)

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God” They are all corrupt, and they have done terrible things; there is no one who does what is right.  The LORD looks down from heaven at human beings to see if there are any who are wise, any who worship him.  (Psalm 14 v 1-2)

That is what he looks for – the wise man worships God and not the things of this earth so let this be our prayer

Psalm 7 v 9 – You are a righteous God and judge our thoughts and desires.  Stop the wickedness of evildoers and reward those who are good.

 

All quotes from The Good News Bible

 

Genesis 6 v 9 -10: Blameless?

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This is the story of Noah.  He had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.  Noah had no faults and was the only good man of his time.  He lived in fellowship with God. (v 9-10)

We see a reference here which says that Noah had no faults but we know from reading further that Noah on a least one occasion got drunk and surely could not have been perfect and sinless.

The NIV version translates this as righteous and blameless among the people of his time, and that he walked with God.

There are many people that we read of in the Bible who are spoken of as righteous, walking with God, and yet we know that they did things wrong.

Abraham was deceitful: he mislead people about his relationship to His wife Sarah (Genesis 12 v 13 & 20 v 2)

David implicated murder to try and cover up his adultery. (2 Samuel 11) and yet later was able to say:

He knows that I am faultless, that I have kept myself from doing wrong.  And so he rewards me because I do what is right, because he knows that I am innocent (2 Samuel 22 v 24)

Moses too was a murderer (Exodus 2 v 12) and yet was called by God, but he disobeyed God when he struck the rock at Meribah (Numbers 20) and so was not allowed to enter the promised land.

Job was blameless and upright (Job 1 v1) and yet God had strong words to say to him in Job 38-39 and Job then repented.

The pattern we see here in comparison to Cain killing Abel in Genesis 4, is that they acknowledged their failures, repented and sought forgiveness and to be obedient to God afterwards.  God sees this as righteousness and although they all had to suffer the consequences or punishment for their actions, they accepted and received it with reverence and humility whereas Cain remained conceited and complained that his punishment was “not fair” and therefore was banished.

God only asks us to:

Be completely faithful to your God. (Deuteronomy 18 v 13)

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22 v 37)

Noah was faithful to God in a world that no longer cared and was intent on evil.  There were no other people who were considered righteous by God.

It was faith that made Noah hear God’s warnings about things in the future that he could not see.  He obeyed God and built a boat in which he and his family were saved.  As a result, the world was condemned and Noah received from God the righteousness that comes from faith (Hebrews 11 v 7)

Noah tried to tell people of the impending judgement, but they did not listen to him and just mocked him;

God did not spare the ancient world, but brought the flood on the world of godless people, the only ones he saved were Noah, who preached righteousness, and seven other people (2 Peter 2 v 5)

This is the only reference we see in the Bible of Noah “preaching” but there are similar descriptions in other documents that were well known to the Jews such as Josephus and 1 Clement 7 v 6 (Noah preached repentance, and as many as hearkened unto him were saved)  and 1 Clement 9 v 4 (Noah, having been found faithful, preached, by his ministry, regeneration unto the world, and by him God preserved the animals that entered with one consent into the ark)

It appears from this that only his immediate family listened.  We saw in Chapter 5 that Enoch had prophesised when naming his son Methuselah that the judgement would come when he died (Methuselah means : his death shall bring judgement) so by this time there were none of Noah’s righteous ancestors still living and the rain started at Methuselah’s death.

We know that we have all sinned (Romans 3 v 23) but if we acknowledge our failings and follow God, he will forgive us and make us righteous (blameless) in his sight (1 John 1 v 8 & 9)

 O LORD, you are faithful to those who are faithful to you, and completely good to those who are perfect (2 Samuel 22 v 26)

 

All quotes from the Good News Bible

Genesis 6 v 1-8; A Wicked World

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1500 years or so had passed since God made Adam and Eve and the human race had spread all over the world.  God had told people to be fruitful and certainly by this time with people living 7/800 years and having many many children, the population of the earth had grown considerably.   Some estimates say that this could have been in the region of 30,000 million people – ie 30 billion and the current population in 2016 is in the region of 7 billion but we are not given any clear information on this, only that the number had increased.

Verses 2 & 4 speak of Heavenly beings (or Sons of God) taking the beautiful young women and having children by them who were giants and heroes of the day – they were known as the Nephilim.

Now there are several interpretations on this part of the story.  Jewish literature speaks of these being Angels who strayed from their original order and came down to earth and “married” human women. Jude v 6-7 speaks of the Angels who left their positions of authority and are now being held in darkness awaiting judgement.  We know too from Job 1 v 6 that the angels were called before God to report on what they had been doing.

The name “Nephilim” comes from the Hebrew word for “fallen ones” and were known to be people of great size and strength and viewed as the heroes of old but in Gods eyes they were sinners.

Others say that this cannot be possible due to God’s order of creation and in Mark 12 v 25 Jesus says;

For when the dead rise to life, they will be like the angels in heaven and will not marry

This implies therefore that it is not possible for there to be intermarriage between angels and humans although many ancient mythologies mention this.

“Sons of God” more usually refers to human beings (Isaiah 43 v 6, Hosea 1 v 10, Luke 3 v 38, 1 John 3 v 1)

This could be a reference to Godly men marrying sinful women – the daughters of men, possibly from Cain’s line who brought their sinful ways with them.

“Sons of God” can also be a reference to Kings who were revered and worshiped in some areas and built up corrupt kingdoms for themselves.

Then the Lord said “I will not allow people to live for ever; they are mortal.  From now on they will live no longer than 120 years” (v 3)

Other translations say “My Spirit will not contend (or remain) with man forever”.  God is holy and cannot tolerate the evil sinful nature of man and the depths which they had reached by this time.

He then declares a life span of 120 years.  Again there are two interpretations of this.  The first is that he was giving notice of his plan to destroy the earth.  Later on we read that Noah appears to have been around 500 years old when God reveals his plan to him but the flood did not occur until he was 600 years old.  Others take the more literal approach in that God declares that man’s life will be no more than 120 years.  In Psalm 90 v 10 the Psalmist refers to the length of our days being 70 years.

When the LORD saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, he was sorry that he had ever made them and put them on the earth.  He was so filled with regret that he said “I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them (v 5-7)

The people on earth were getting on with their lives with no thought or regard to their creator so God was full of pain and regret that they had rejected him.  The animals suffered under this too although they were morally innocent, they had been placed under the authority of man who was sinful.

But the Lord was pleased with Noah (v 8)

Noah was not perfect, we know that he made mistakes but the accounts imply that he was the only one left who still tried to follow and honour God and in comparison to his contemporaries he was a Godly man.

 

All quotes from The Good News Bible