When we think of the Christmas story, we often focus on the birth of Jesus as the only miraculous event that occurred.
And indeed it was an awesome miracle: the virgin birth of a baby who would become the Saviour of the world.
But there was another miraculous birth that happened around the same time, described only in the gospel of Luke.
The angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive without having had relations with her betrothed, Joseph. The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would give birth to a son, who was to be called Jesus.
This was no doubt astounding news to Mary. But the angel didn’t stop there: he had another amazing news flash.
Did you ever receive a gift that wasn’t quite what you were expecting?
Maybe you’d dropped hints to your husband that you wanted a certain designer perfume for Christmas, and instead you received…a power drill (coincidentally, exactly the one he wanted for his workshop!).
Or you were certain that your brother was going to give you a gift certificate to a spa so you could be pampered on your birthday, but somehow all you got from him was a new ironing board.
Let’s hope no one visiting this blog received the most tone-deaf Valentine’s Day gift I’ve heard of: a pre-planned funeral arrangement!
Our Father in Heaven knows how to give good gifts to His children, but He doesn’t always answer our requests in exactly the way we expected.
Have you ever cooked a dish which turned out to be plainly inedible, or even downright dangerous to consume?
It can happen to the best of us, as these examples prove:
A grandmother with failing eyesight accidentally grabbed a bottle of ammonia instead of vinegar when making potato salad for her family. They started gagging at the mere smell of it, which fortunately prevented anyone from eating it!
An 18-year-old living on his own for the first time wanted to make fried rice. He poured some oil into a very hot pan, then dumped in a bunch of uncooked rice. Needless to say, the burned mess had to be thrown out.
Another young person forgot to add water when cooking packaged ramen noodles. I guess cooking isn’t for everyone!
Did you know that a cooking fail even happened in the Bible?
I’ll bet many of you grew up watching the televised cooking shows of Julia Child, “The French Chef.” If not, you’re probably familiar with her name.
Credited with popularizing French cuisine for an American audience, this six-foot, two-inch dynamo was always a hoot to watch. You not only learned a great deal about cooking from Julia, but you were also entertained with zingers like these:
“A party without a cake is just a meeting.”
“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
“Cooking is like love—it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
“I just hate health food!”
But the Julia Child quotation that has stayed with me is this:
“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”
Why does this phrase resonate with me? Because with faith, as with cooking, the size of our “container” can be a limiting factor.
If you’re Canadian, you probably know what an inukshuk is.
If you’re not Canadian, then let me offer you my condolences. (Sorry! Just kidding!)
But seriously, an inukshuk is a stone structure built by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic regions of North America. The stones may simply be stacked vertically, or they may take the form of a human figure.
The distinctive shape of the inukshuk is featured on the flag of Nunavut, a Canadian territory, and also served as the inspiration for the logo of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Inukshuks have been traditionally used by the Inuit people as landmarks for navigation, guideposts for travellers in a barren landscape. They might also mark out a sacred spot, or function as a commemorative sign.
I think we all need “inukshuks” in our lives, don’t we?
Reminders of the things God has done in our lives, how far He’s brought us. Beacons to others travelling the same journey, showing them the path that leads to life.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread in your own home, is there?
More and more people are finding this out. One of the surprising consequences of the pandemic-associated lockdowns has been a resurgence of home baking. So many people have been baking bread at home in recent months that some stores have even run out of yeast and flour.
For beginners, it might take some time to get the knack of baking bread from scratch. Even for more experienced home bakers, baking the perfect loaf of bread will take numerous tries and repeated tweaks to the recipe.
The Bible has a few things to say about this life-giving substance. By tracing the story of bread through the Scriptures, we can see how the “recipe” improves over time, culminating in something we all desire: