Seasonal reflections from congregation members which are shareable. Peace be with you as this reflection time draws to conclusion at the manger. Sincere thanks to all who contributed, and to all who participated, read, shared and mediated. Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this which the angels have told.
Candy Cane (Peppermint) Cheesecake: Tell the story as you create and share at the Christmas table.
From Pam Polfuss Schmidt – she says “this is one recipe that if I don’t make it, everyone gets upset” The grin on Steve’s face when she said this shows how true that is!
Not gonna lie, this recipe is fiddly and time consuming, but it’s also well worth the effort as a dessert during the holiday season. Be warned, if you make it once you may be asked to bring it every year!
NOTE: I prep all the ingredients before I make the gelatin
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 (8 oz/250 ml) containers soft cream cheese
½ cup white sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy canes
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
2 milk chocolate candy bars, finely chopped (Note: not actual photo, but it looks similar)
- Combine crumbs and butter; press into bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake at 350oF for 10 minutes. Cool.
- Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing at medium speed with electric mixer until blended. Gradually add gelatin, milk and crushed candy canes, mixing well.
- Chill until thickened, but not set.
- Fold in whipped cream and chocolate; pour over crust. Chill until firm.
- Garnish with additional whipped cream combined with crushed candy canes and shaved chocolate, if desired.
Meditation on The Star: by Laurie Zimmerman Hopf –
Meditation on The Star of Bethlehem
“We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him” Matthew 2:2
The Holy Star
As shadows cast by cloud and sun
Flit o’er the summer grass
So, in thy sight, Almighty One,
Earth’s generations pass.
And while the years, and endless host,
Come pressing swiftly on,
The brightest names that Earth can boast
Just glisten and are gone.
Yet doth the Star of Bethlehem shed
A lustre pure and sweet,
And still it leads, as once it led,
To the Messiah’s feet.
O Father, may that holy star
Grow every year more bright,
And sends its glorious beams afar
To fill the world with light.
— William Cullen Bryant
We as Christians see the star of Bethlehem as a monumental symbol of the Christmas story. It is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew that the Star appeared in the East to lead the Magi to the Christ child. As I looked up information on the Star of Bethlehem I found that it has been the topic of much discussion, as people try to theorize if indeed it was a star in the sky, or if it is symbolic to suggest that God’s light shines brighter and is the beacon of his love even in the darkest of times.
For me, I like to think of it in both perspectives. The Star leading the Magi to find the Christ child perhaps was an astronomical phenomenon. A light so bright, and consistent, for a lengthy period of time, that became a compass for the Wise Men leading them to the King of the Jews. I also like to think that it represents the light of God’s love that is perpetually cast upon us, leading and guiding us to his eternal Kingdom. Whichever way you interpret the Star of Bethlehem it ultimately reminds us that God is everywhere and that he perpetually engulfs us in his love and guidance and he will be our compass even in life’s most tumultuous times.
Dear Lord, We ask that you be our daily Star of Bethlehem that guides our lives, that generously fills our hearts with your forgiving and never ending love, and that you be our light on the journey to your Kingdom of Heaven. Amen
Laurie Zimmerman Hopf
One more recipe to gather together those we love:
Pecan and Warm Apple Salad with Cheddar
This recipe is from a good friend who remarked that one of the best things about coming home from work is being together in the kitchen and taking time to make a salad. This recipe is one of his favorites. It has become a favorite for us too! It has several small steps that can be divided so all can take part. Cook the apples just before serving.
Pam and Paul
(prepare an amount suitable for the number of salads you will make.)
Pecans and Romaine lettuce
2 oz old cheddar, shaved
2 red apples: Courtland, Spartan
1 tbsp butter
(makes enough for 4 side salads)
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar
½ tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp salt
2-3 grindings pepper
Directions – set up a station for each person to complete a part of the salad
- Stir pecans in a large hot pan over heat until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Tear lettuce into bite size pieces.
- Mix dressing ingredients together and whisk to blend.
- Shave cheese with a vegetable peeler.
- When ready to serve, core and slice apples. Heat butter in the large pan. Add apple slices, (reserve a few slices) when butter is bubbly. Sauté for a few minutes turning frequently until semi-soft.
- Place lettuce in a large bowl and toss with dressing. Add warm apples and pecans. Top with the reserved raw apple slices.
- Garnish with shaved cheddar
- Serve immediately.