Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Counting Down the Ten Plagues

As we approach Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a friend asked me to post ideas and recipes we've used to make our Messianic versions of these feasts come alive for our children. This year, Passover (beginning on Nisan 15 in the Hebrew tradition) will most likely coincide with sundown of April 6th on our Gregorian calendar. The Feast of Unleavened Bread starts immediately after and will come to an end at sundown on Sunday, April 14th.
We're not Jewish, so why Passover? Why lamb instead of ham? Why leaven-free crackers for a week? Why do we reenact the ten plagues, prepare the six elements, perhaps ask the four age-old questions, and actually celebrate a lack of bread for seven whole days???
Well...why did God institute the holiday in the first place?
For. The. Children.
God knew how to make His redemption story come alive for them!
Our family is so far removed from the birthplace of this holiday that we're still working to figure out how to celebrate it. If you're not sure what Passover has to do with Christ, a simple, beautiful piece written by Ann Voskamp will get you started here.
Leading up to the first Passover, God used ten plagues to demonstrate the reality of Himself and His power to the ancient Egyptians, who worshipped many false gods. Each plague demonstrated that the Egyptian gods were powerless, and that the Lord actually had power over all things. I'm going to use my space to briefly share how each plague illustrated this point, and some fun ideas/recipes to augment and lighten a Ten Plagues Countdown you could do with your kids. Many of the activities are adapted from the resource Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson.
The Ten Plagues Countdown
(Begin nine days before Passover. Commemorate one plague each day. As noted, for some days, food preparation begins one day ahead of time.)
Plague #1: Blood "I will strike the water...and it will be turned to blood. ...There will be blood throughout all the land."
The Nile River was an incredibly important feature in the Egyptian culture—a main artery, or lifeline—and the Egyptians honored several false gods/goddesses as deities that controlled their fates by controlling the river. Freeing the Israelites from slavery began with God turning this lifeline into a real-life bloody cesspool, showing the Egyptians that HE was supreme over their lives. But His power to free did not end there. This was just the opening gambit. As we shall see, the Israelites' journey to freedom began with one blood covering, and ended with another. Today, we are still freed from sin through the blood covering foreshadowed by this historical event.
Suggested activity: Before your kids awake, use red berry juice or organic red food coloring to color the water in your toilets. Fill the bathroom sink with water and color it, also. Serve them red water (not sweetened or flavored) for breakfast. Continue offering this odd sensory experience for awhile. How does it make us feel?
Suggested foods: Red drippy things, like:
Strawberry Shortcake for breakfast
Beef hotdogs w/ketchup for lunch
Spaghetti with sauce for supper
Shirley Temples w/homemade grenadine syrup
Shirley Temples
· 1 bottle POM 100% pomegranate juice (or make your own by simmering seeds of two pomegranates in water to cover, stirring until juice sacs release juice, about 5 minutes. Strain juice through cheesecloth, squeezing cloth to express juice. Discard seeds.)(Note: A slightly modified recipe for pomegranate syrup is used in Plague #6. You may want to preview it ahead of time so you only have to purchase poms or the juice once.)
· equal amount organic cane sugar (measure juice)
· chilled lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
· maraschino cherries
Whisk juice and sugar in a medium heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Store in a stoppered bottle. To make Shirley Temples, add a tablespoon or so of syrup to iced lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Stir gently and float a red maraschino cherry in glass.
Plague #2: Frogs "Moses said to Pharoah...WHEN shall I entreat for you...that the frogs may be...left only in the Nile? And he said, 'Tomorrow.'"
Tomorrow??? Put plastic, rubber, paper, or sticker frogs all over your house, including in your breakfast dishes. See if YOU would have wanted Moses to wait until "tomorrow" to ask God to remove them from YOUR house!
The Egyptians worshipped a false goddess of birth called Heqet. The head of this goddess was shaped like a frog's head, and frogs were considered sacred. People were not allowed to kill or harm them. Imagine having your house overrun by frogs that you consider to be sacred. With this plague, God showed the Egyptians that it was silly to worship creatures He had created, and that He was supernaturally in control of the limits and natural laws of reproduction.
Suggested foods:
· Frog Eggs (Combine tapioca pearls, apple juice, a little green food coloring, and remaining ingredients according to recipe on the tapioca box. Cool before serving.)
· Frog-Eye Salad (Make according to directions on the box of Acini de Pepe pasta, except stir a few drops of green food coloring into cream before whipping.)
Plague #3: Lice or Gnats "...‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ” And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
This plague addressed the Egyptian worship of the false god Set, god of the desert (i.e., dust). It struck at the heart of all Egyptian worship, especially the priesthood, which was scrupulous about hygiene and ritual cleansing. An infestation of lice made them unable to worship their gods.
(Note: The exact insect in this plague is translated differently in different Bibles, usually as lice or gnats. For certain, it was a very tiny, pesky insect. Feel free to focus on lice one year, gnats another, etc.)
Suggested activity: Learn about lice and imagine how uncomfortable and inconvenient this plague would be. Use a paper punch on a plain brown paper bag to make as many little brown dots as possible. (Employ the kids' help for as long as you can keep their interest!) While you do this, watch a video together about the life cycle of lice and/or how to prevent/treat head lice (you might preview this 1940s explanation versus these modern updates here or this very informational Canadian video). Then let the kids scatter the "lice" over their heads and imagine how uncomfortable these itchy bugs could make them feel. Let them shake off the dots and help you vacuum or sweep.
Suggested foods: Foods with very grainy texture and appearance, to simulate tiny bugs. This is a good time to try a new quinoa or couscous recipe. On the other hand, there are absolutely no grains in this “grainy” dessert:
Nutty Lice Balls (grainy coconut sugar, ground almonds, and/or coconut flakes simulate "lice")
In a medium bowl, start with:
· ½ cup of organic creamy peanut or other nut butter
Stir in your choice of sweetener(s), mixing a variety if you wish, up to approx 1/2 cup total:
· coconut sugar (optional, but highly recommended for color and texture; drier and less sweet than other choices, so you may want to use 1/4 cup and then add some liquid sweetener; find where your store stocks organic sweeteners)
· organic maple syrup
· honey
In a separate small bowl, measure your choice of thickening agent(s), up to 1/2 cup:
· almond meal
· protein drink powder
· non-dairy creamer
· powdered milk
Into dry ingredients, whisk any of these optional ingredients:
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut, blended fine in food processor
· 1 tablespoon dark chocolate shavings (shave the edge of a candy bar with a potato peeler)
Combine dry mixture with nut butter, adding a little honey or syrup if the butter is too crumbly to stick together.
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment. On half of it, spread coconut and/or chocolate shavings out evenly. Shape butter mixture into 1" balls. Roll balls in shavings and place on unused half of lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate and enjoy. Makes approx. 12 treats.
Plague #4: Flies "...if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people."
A difference. Separation. Compare with Ephesians 2:16-17...
This plague related to the Egyptian’s false god Uatachit, which may have been pictured as a fly. Scholars think this plague may have defiled the priest’s sense of hygiene in the same way as the plague of lice or gnats.
Suggested activities: Ahead of time, use a paper punch to make lots of small dots, this time out of plain white paper. Spread them around on your breakfast table and dining area floor before your kids awake. As the kids notice them, explain they represent baby flies (maggots). Watch videos to learn about the life cycle of flies, then talk about their important ecological role on the earth in balance with the importance of keeping flies off our food. As with the "lice" activity, let the children help you clean up the dots.
Curried Lamb & Rice (point out that rice LOOKS similar to baby flies, but doesn't wiggle!)
· 2 pounds lamb steak or roast, cut into 1" cubes (if lamb is unavailable or your family doesn't like it, substitute chicken)
· one large sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
· 5-6 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced very fine
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1-2 cups chicken broth
· 1-2 teaspoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste (or another curry mixture you like)
· sea salt and pepper to taste
· 1-½ cups brown rice, steamed
Heat olive oil in large pan on medium-high until the oil flows freely when you swirl the pan. Add pressed garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, just until it releases its fragrance. Add onions and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to change color. Pull onion/garlic mixture to the sides of the pan and add the meat to the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir fry until all is browned. Combine with onions and add most of the broth, reserving a few tablespoons. Add the curry paste to reserved broth and stir well, then add mixture to the meat/broth. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little liquid if it reduces too quickly. Sauce should thicken slightly as it reduces. Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot over warm rice. Serves 4.
Also on this day, begin preparing homemade chicken or turkey stock for tomorrow. In a crock pot, place a whole roasting chicken or several turkey pieces, and any extra chicken or turkey soup bones you’ve been saving. Add 1 carrot, 2 ribs celery, 1 whole onion, 2 bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons organic sea salt. Fill crock pot with filtered water and turn on high. After 2-3 hours, reduce to low heat and simmer overnight. In the morning, remove meat to a platter to cool. Then de-bone, cut into bite-sized chunks, and refrigerate. Cool stock and strain. Discard vegetables. Refrigerate stock so fat congeals on top. Discard fat and reheat stock when you’re ready to make homemade chicken soup.
Plague #5: Pestilence “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ”
The Egyptians worshipped a god and goddess of livestock, Apis and Hathor. This plague of pestilence killed Egyptian livestock, causing disease--"dis-ease."
Suggested activity: Gather all the stuffed animals around your house and turn them upside down so they look like they've died. In our house, we also run essential peppermint oil through our diffuser, as this is a scent we use as a preventive measure and to ease our symptoms of illness.
Suggested foods: What disses your ease? For this plague we prepare foods we commonly use to "ease our dis," like warm lemon-honey drinks, and homemade chicken soup with almond meal biscuits:
Warm Lemon-Honey Drink
Fill a mug ¾ full with very warm water. Add raw honey and fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (up to 1 tablespoon per mug).
Lorri's Homemade Chicken Soup (Note: This recipe purposely does not include any pasta or grains.)
· Refrigerated chicken stock and chicken chunks
· 5-8 cloves garlic, pressed
· Any other vegetables you like in chicken soup, fresh or frozen (i.e., carrots, celery, onion, peas, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, cabbage...)
· up to 1 teaspoon each of ground rosemary, sage, and/or basil
· few dashes cayenne pepper
· sea salt to taste
If vegetables are fresh, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan until oil swirls easily. Add garlic and saute for approx 30 seconds, just until fragrance is released. Add remaining vegetables and stir fry several minutes, until mushrooms release liquid and vegetables begin to caramelize.
Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot and heat on medium-high until contents begin to simmer. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 20 minutes to combine flavors. Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with Almond Meal Biscuits (below).
Almond Meal Biscuits
· 2-½ cups blanched almond flour (aka, almond meal)
· ½ teaspoon sea salt
· ½ teaspoon baking soda
· ¼ cup organic cooking oil (olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil melted over low heat)
· ¼ cup organic maple syrup
· 2 large eggs
· 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, eggs, and lemon juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Drop the batter, in scant 1/4 cups 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool briefly on baking sheet, then serve warm. These biscuits also freeze beautifully and make great quick snacks. Makes 8-10 biscuits. Recipe adapted from: The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, copyright 2009, "Classic Drop Biscuits", pg 20.
Plague #6: Boils So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”
The Egyptian goddess Sekmet was believed to have power over disease. They worshipped Sunu as the god of pestilence, and Isis as the goddess of healing.
Blech! I've had a rash of tiny itching boils on my wrist for over a week now—an allergic reaction to something—who knows what? Today, let your child dip a finger in red berry juice and dab it on his arm to simulate a skin boil. You might let him cover it with a band-aid. Research/explain what boils are, their common causes, how they feel, and what we do about them.
Suggested foods: Welcome your kids into the kitchen to help you prepare boiled foods (boiled eggs, boiled veggies such as cabbage, boiled soup...) Our suggested dessert is fancy "boiled" pears:
Poached Pears in Spiced Pom Syrup
In heavy medium saucepan, combine:
· 1 btl POM 100% pomegranate juice (or make your own by putting fresh pom seeds in small pot, cover w purified water, and simmer few min until seeds pop; cool & strain juice--see Plague #1 for more detailed directions...)
· 2 cups purified water
· 1-½ cups org cane sugar
· 4 cinnamon sticks
· 3-4 whole cloves
· several ½” strips orange peel (orange part only)
· 1 tablespoon quality vanilla extract
Simmer 25 minutes over med heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Meanwhile, prepare:
· 4 org Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
Add pears to sauce and simmer until soft (about 25 min), turning pears frequently. Cool pears in syrup. Then remove and keep warm.
Strain syrup into clean saucepan. Simmer over med heat until reduced to desired thickness. Place pears in individual serving dishes and drizzle syrup over.
Can be served with Greek-style yogurt, plain or vanilla flavor, if desired.
Recipe adapted from: "Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta w/Poached Pears" by Bon Appetit, January 2010
Plague #7: Hail "The one among Pharaoh's servant who revered the word of the Lord made his servants/livestock flee into the houses; but he who paid no regard to the Lord left his servants/livestock in the field. Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt.'"
Ah, the power of choice! Perfect love and perfect justice, perfectly blended... Here God gives every Egyptian the choice to either listen to Him, or trust in Nut, their goddess of the sky, and Osiris, their god of crops.
Suggested activity: Discuss the relationship of love to justice, and the consequences of listening and obeying God (and parents) versus not. Then go outside and practice throwing cubed ice at a target.
Today's menu: Sweet Fruit 'n' Firm Ice Smoothies (perfectly blend your choice of fresh or frozen fruit, ice, vanilla, cinnamon and/or raw ginger, and a little sweetener; garnish w/fresh mint if you desire)...and "Hail Breakers" (white mini jaw breakers available at confectioneries.)
Plague #8: Locusts "Thus says the God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field. They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians—which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.’”
Here again, God shows the Egyptians that their god of the crops, Osiris, is powerless, and He is truly in control.
Suggested activities: Read Chapter 25, " The Glittering Cloud," in On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. You could also print images of grasshoppers, cut them out, and scatter them around the house as you did frogs. Note: This is messier and not as much fun as the toy frogs, though. Alternatively, you could study the life cycle of grasshoppers.
GF (but decadent) Grasshopper Bars
Preheat oven to 325 deg F
GF Flour Mix
· 2 parts org rice flour
· 2/3 part potato starch
· 1/3 part tapioca flour
Whisk together and set aside. (Bob's Red Mill produces all three flours. They're usually in the health food section of larger grocery stores.)
1st Layer:
· 2 cup org sugar or adjust amount for sweetener of your choice
· 1 cup org coconut oil, melted via very low heat
· 4 org eggs
· ½ cup org unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1 cup GF flour mix (above)
· 1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread batter into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 30 min at 325 deg F. Cool well.
2nd Layer:
· 1 cup cashews
· 1 cup + 1 tablespoon water, divided
· 1/3 cup org maple syrup
· ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract (I use 5 drops Imani essential peppermint oil)
· 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
· green food coloring (optional)
In blender, puree cashews, 1 cup water, syrup, and peppermint on highest setting for 1-2 minutes. Place mixture in a saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue to boil and stir for one minute, then decrease heat to simmer while preparing arrowroot paste. In a small bowl, dissolve arrowroot powder in remaining tablespoon of water, stirring to make a paste. Increase heat to high and add arrowroot paste to cashew mixture, whisking constantly for about one minute, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool well. Spread evenly on top of 1st layer. Refrigerate.
3rd Layer:
· 2/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips or 1 bar (3.5 oz.) org chocolate (dark or milk)
· 6 tablespoons org coconut oil
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt all ingredients together and drizzle over 2nd layer. Return to refrigerator to set before cutting.
Verrrrry rich! You can cut 'em small! ;~)
Recipe modified from: and The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, copyright 2009, "Creme Patissiere", pg 126.
Plague #9: Darkness "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.' ...They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings."
Here God demonstrates His supremacy over four Egyptian deities—two gods (Ra and Horus, both sun gods) and two goddesses (Nut and Hathor, goddesses of the sky). To the Egyptians, Ra (or Re), the sun god, was the supreme god. In this plague, God shows HE is supreme over all things, including light and darkness.
Suggested activity: Tape brown paper bags over your windows to eat lunch in the "dark" today. Study the sport of spelunking and, if possible, visit a cave where you can turn out the lights for three minutes (one minute for each day of the plague). Alternatively, study the art of making chocolate and learn about the differences between dark, milk, and white chocolate. ;~)
Suggested foods: Blackened fish or chicken (try Big Daddy's recipe for Blackened Tilapia here!) Organic dark chocolate... If you don't want to buy an expensive candy bar, try this recipe:
Supreme Dark Delight
· ¼ cup org unsweetened cocoa powder
· 2 tablespoons org maple syrup
· 1 tablespoon org coconut oil, melted via very low heat
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine cocoa powder and maple syrup. Add melted oil and stir briskly to combine well. Pour mixture into four even circles on parchment paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set. Peel off parchment paper and serve immediately. Makes four 99-calorie servings.
Plague #10: Striking down of the firstborn son And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians... Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year... Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Not only did this plague result in great heartbreaking loss to the Egyptians, but here again God showed Himself supreme to the Egyptian’s belief system. Egyptians worshipped Min and Heqet, the god and goddess of reproduction and childbirth. They worshipped Isis, who was supposed to be a goddess who protected children. And Pharaoh’s son, himself, was considered to be a god. Through this plague, the Lord not only humbled Pharaoh, but firmly demonstrated supremacy over everything Pharaoh expected to protect him and his country.
Suggested activities: Simulate spreading lambs' blood on the lintel of your door by having your children help you tack a red ribbon up one side, across the top, and down the other side. Explain that this represents the blood of the Passover lamb that the Israelites brushed on their doors as a covering, a protection from the last plague. Also explain that the Israelites continued to sacrifice a lamb at Passover each year. However, Jesus, God’s Son, became the final Passover Lamb when He willingly gave up His life, using His blood to cover everyone’s sins, to make us right with God. We don’t have to sacrifice lambs and brush their blood on our doors anymore. But we DO want to remind ourselves each year of what God did, to help us understand the way He does things and so people don’t forget.
In preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, let your children help you remove all the leaven (yeast, sourdough starter, baked goods like bread/bagels/cakes, baking soda, baking powder, etc.) from your house, except hide a few small pieces of bread for the leader of your home to search for and remove later this evening. Explain that in this case, leaven symbolizes sin, and like sin, removing leaven takes care and close observation. Like sin, sometimes we find it in the most unexpected places (such as the baking soda that might be in our toothpaste or laundry soap), and sometimes we really don’t want to give it up (like if we’ve just stocked up on bread or yeast to make bread…). To make a big impression for a small investment, have these items on hand for the leader to use for the leaven search:
  • Small paper bag, like a lunch bag
  • Wooden spoon you don’t need anymore, or a thin, flat stick such as a tongue depressor
  • Large, sturdy feather (nothing fancy) or cardstock cut and decorated like a feather
  • Kitchen matches
To conduct the search for leaven, the leader goes about the house looking for the hidden scraps of bread. When a scrap is found, don’t touch it! Rather, use the feather to sweep it onto the wooden spoon, then collect it in the paper bag. Sweep any crumbs into the bag, also. Once all the scraps have been collected, put the feather and the wooden spoon in the bag, also. Take the bag and the matches outside to a safe place to start a fire. Set the bag on the ground and light it. Discuss again how the bits of leavened bread represent sin in our lives, and explain that as we confess our sins to God, He frees us from them—erases them from our lives—like the fire “erases” the bread.
Also let your kids help you design a special table setting and prepare for a special Passover Seder meal tonight.
Foods for a Passover Seder:
· Dried fruits and nuts
· Olives
· Apples
· Matza (unleavened crackers)
· Grape juice or watered down Kosher Passover wine
· Salted water (in dipping dishes)
· Parsley or other green herb (few fresh sprigs)
· "Bitter" herbs such as celery ribs, or green peppers cut into large wedges, to serve as eating utensils
· Horseradish
· Charoset (a mixture of minced apples, nuts, and spices)
· Roasted Leg of Lamb
If you're interested in looking at our kid-friendly Passover Seder program, including preparation instructions and a script for the evening, leave me a comment.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Midlife Pout

It just came to me during Bible study this morning. The study is titled "The 7th Year" and the assignment was Part 5 of a six-part exercise to make a timeline of our own personal spiritual formation. In Part 5, we are to note our perceptions of God during the different seasons of our life. After a lifetime of ups and downs...of walking near, then less near, then near again...after all we've been through together!...the perception that most closely describes my current season is, "desperate hope." Desperate hope? Why?!

And then it came to me. Although I've perceived the Lord as intimate, even my best friend, for almost two decades...although He's surprised me, thrilled me, provided me with everything I need, directed me whenever I didn't know what to do--really been there for me...He hasn't used me to an extent that shows me I'm a valuable asset to Him. It seems to me He's made a rather hefty investment. But here I am, in midlife, and my life is so inconsequential. The Bible says all His followers will bear fruit, but...where's mine? Why hasn't He allowed more of a return for all His investment in me?

Search me! me, O Lord...

Well, have I been faithful with what He's given me?

Perhaps, lately, not so much...

He's given me a couple kids to guard, equip, and chauffeur, and sometimes I'm a really bad example to them of patience and grace. Currently, He's assigned me to a distant, little bitty church congregation in the middle of the country that I often chafe to attend. And right now the paychecks are too tight to be fun to manage, so I don't. And to top it all off, how do I respond to my dissatisfaction with my current season? Do I take the matter to my Best Friend and talk it out with Him? No...I pout!

Well, not anymore! The issue is out, I've had my cry of repentance, and I am FREE! Free again to patiently love my teens, worship with my congregation, manage our finances and home, and hope, dream, dance, walk & talk with my Best Friend! Yeah!!!

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have in abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Verse 29)