Advent 2

      Each year,this past week is the one during in which I usually throw in the towel and admit a temporary defeat in contacting people about Day Camps. EVERYBODY is just totally focused on Advent and Christmas, and one just has to face the fact that, in the first week of December, summer 2015 is pretty low on the average Cleric, or Lay Workers’s list of priorities.
        It is still possible to beaver away at internal stuff:- content for the Christmas Network’s Newsletter, plans for the Epiphany Team Gathering, badgering people with reminders about a variety of Day Camps projects, but not too much in the way of host church contacts, or potential Team Member applications!  There have actually been a couple of enquiries from host churches and even one Application Form, so “business” has not entirely dried up. So be it…
      Advent is whizzing by but there is still an opportunity to enter gently into the Season, if one works hard at it! Slowing down, sitting and reading, listening to beautiful Advent musicit is still possible. A real blessing, for myself, is that the only type of shopping I do, is food shopping and that happens at small local stores and the CO-OP where people actually know my name and where line-ups and excess shopping are pretty well non-existent making things a bit more manageable. All gift making happens at home and those times of crafting special presents for special friends are truly precious and should be savoured.
     Outside office hours this has been a week of intensive cooking and sewing.Many many teensy little appetisers have been made-Onion Bhajis, Bread Bowls with Curried Dahl Filling, Lamb in Filo Pastry Triangles and Tiny Sweet Potato, Potato and Corn Röstis. Mind bogglingly close to 400 individual “bites”. All for my friends “Cocktail”.(Francophones do not call it a Cocktail Party, but just a “Cocktail”!!)       No time to rest on my laurels since a Clerical friend has just asked me to cater the annual dinner she gives for her church leaders, so a 3-course dinner for 24, is now on the horizon.
     Meanwhile, the snow has come too, not a ton, but enough to involve daily sweeping and several rounds of shovelling. And, of course, when there is nothing else to do, one can always be found hand sewing plenty more lace onto the bridal veil!!
     Tomorrow is my turn on lunch duty at church so yesterday I baked bagels, as well as the last lot of appetisers and squeezed in a batch of Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Christmas cookies, yum! Fortunately I had made and frozen the soup ahead of time, so that is now out and thawing in my giant soup pot- Riboletta, similar to Minestrone but with beans instead of pasta.
    The week also included a couple of church-related meetings, a crafts evening with Matthew (polymer clay jewellery) a “knitting evening” tutorial and an evening concocting homemade hand creams. But today the focus is on Advent 2. Our Gathering, the lighting of the Candle of Joy, making “Joy” ornaments with the children, serving lunch, catching people to help with next Sunday’s All Ages Service-The Jesse Tree, then dashing home to host the SYC Bible Study. It sounds pretty zooy, but if there is still time to carve out those quiet moments and to savour this lovely Season, then none of the busyness can overwhelm the deeper undercurrent of the coming week when we think about the gift of “Joy”.
     The Midday Office today, included a short passage from Jeremiah, echoing the past week’s focus on “Hope”.
“Yes I know what plans I have made for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. When you call to me and come and pray to me, I shall listen to you. When you search for me, you will find me; when you search wholeheartedly for me I shall let, you find me.”
                                                                                                  Jeremiah 29:11-14
Maybe all the planning for next Summer does need to take a bit of a backseat at this time. After all, what are our plans worth if we are not focussed on searching out God’s plans for us, confident that it is He who provides our future and our hope!
Time for the afternoon Wil walk now, and then, perhaps, a cup of tea and one of those Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate cookies…
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1-cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup Dutch-process Cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy and then gradually beat in the sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and 1Tbsp. water. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients until well combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough in half and roll out to a ¼” thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into giant rounds with a 4-5” jar lid or bowl as a cutter. Try to cut as many as possible without re-rolling the dough too much. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake in a preheated 400F. oven for 8 minutes, rotating the pans once and watching carefully so they do not burn. Allow to firm up on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to racks to finish cooling.
Makes approx. 15 giant cookies.

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