O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,

Advent meditation for December 21:

O come O branch of Jessie’s stem

Isaiah 11:1“The root of Jesse shall come,
    the one who rises to rule the gentiles;
in him the gentiles shall hope.”

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel

The birth of Jesus we celebrate at Christmas is the fulfilment of this promise spoken in Isaiah. What Hope do you hold in this promise? Do you see examples of that Hope even in these times? End with a brief time of silence.

 O come, O King of nations, Bind in One the Hearts of all Mankind

Advent meditation for December 20:

O come O king of nation come!

Psalm 99:1,4

The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
    He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

Mighty King, lover of justice,
    you have established equity;
you have executed justice
    and righteousness in Jacob.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

When you read this psalm passage is there a word or a phrase that stands out? What thoughts does that stir? Sit with the thought and let the Spirit guide your heart. End by giving thanks for the moment. +

O come O Wisdom from on high

Advent Meditation for December 18: WISDOM

Sirach 1:1-4

All wisdom is from the Lord,
    and with him it remains forever.

The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,
    and the days of eternity—who can count them?

The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth,
    the abyss, and wisdom—who can search them out?

Wisdom was created before all things
    and prudent understanding from eternity.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Advent devotions for the 5th week: God Dwells With Us

Reflection on the Christmas Shepherds

A while back, Pastor Pam asked for a reflection writing about the Shepherds in the Christmas story. I have fretted the task ever since. What do I think when I see the shepherds in the Nativity? Or how seeing the shepherds at this time of year helps my faith….. The Shepherds are not really the first image you think of when you think of the Nativity. Typically it goes: Jesus in the manger, Mary and Joseph, Angels, the Magi, the animals and then – oh ya! … The Shepherds. This makes me think why. Why the Shepherds?

The Angels are the heavenly heralds. The Magi bring the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Shepherds…. Come empty handed. And according to the story, they leave as quickly as they came. However, they did not leave empty handed. They left having found what the many generations of Israel had been looking for… The Messiah.

And so like the disciples that would follow in later years, they were able to go and spread the good news with great rejoicing of what they had seen and heard.

This leads me to think of the shepherds finding Jesus on the day he was born, not from the Christmas story as found in the Gospel, but rather, unconventionally as in Luke 15:4-6a, the parable of the lost sheep- not that the shepherds had lost Jesus, but rather the messiah who collective generations had been seeking like lost sheep in Jesus’ parable. So having found him they left with joyful hearts         and rejoicing voices.

So I go back to “why the shepherds?” Well, throughout the history of the Jews, shepherds have played very prominent roles. From Abraham to Jacob (Israel) to King David, shepherds have been instrumental. They have been humble yet passionate in their labours. So it makes perfect sense that God would use shepherds yet again to go out and proclaim “The Saviour Has Come!” They found what they had been looking for, “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then He calls his friends and neighbours together and says ‘rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:5-7)

Lord, we may not know your purpose for us and we wander off, but we give thanks and glory to you for the gift of your salvation. As sinners we have lost it, but because of your great love and guidance, and through the sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ, we have been shown your saving grace. Let us rejoice and “Go Tell It on the Mountain!” Amen

Mark Diebel

Sunset Cake

This beautiful recipe is a favorite from the kitchen of Darlene Divers. It seems perfect for an impressive no-fuss desert when you have a large crowd. Best wishes as you gather around the table!


1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white or orange cake mix

1-1/2 cups milk

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

1 package (3 ounces) orange gelatin

4 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil


1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained; 2 cups sugar

1 package (10 ounces) flaked coconut

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Toasted coconut, optional


  • In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
  • Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, sugar, coconut and sour cream. Reserve 1 cup; set aside.
  • Place one cake on a serving plate; top with a third of the remaining pineapple mixture. Repeat layers twice.
  • Fold whipped topping into the reserved pineapple mixture. Spread over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.
  • Refrigerate until serving.

Prep: 20 min. + chilling   Bake: 25 min. + cooling

Yield: 12-16 servings

Enjoy !

Advent devotions for the Fourth Week

Apologies for the delay in posting the 4th week of devotions. Here are the pages provided by congregation members. If you wish to receive the parts of the devotion covered by copyright, please email the church. THIS WEEK OUR FOCUS IS ON SEEING GOD IN EACH OTHER. Bless you in your mediation and gathering.

Meditation on ‘The Sheep of Christmas’

When I see sheep in the nativity setting it takes me back to my preschool days. We had sheep on our home farm in those days. I remember climbing up on a gate in the sheep shed and watching my dad and uncle shearing the sheep. Then they would stuff the wool into the biggest bags I had ever seen, taller than a man. I guess the huge bags were taken to one of the wool mills at Blyth to be made into warm clothing. Later, our sheep got a disease, I believe it affected their liver and we had to get rid of them.

Fast forward about 55-60 years and our son’s family had purchased a farm East of Clifford. He started a small herd of sheep with 25-30 ewes. When the ewes were lambing it was always fun to go there to the barn with our grandchildren and watch the lambs play. They could stand still and jump straight up, what seemed like a foot high. Sometimes if the mother was lying down her lamb would jump up on her side and stand there until something else caught its attention and it would jump down for more playing with the rest. Recently the sheep were sold so that may be the end of my sheep memories other than seeing them in pasture fields by the road. The sheep in the Christmas story remind me of the gifts of wool to be woven into warm clothes. The playfulness of the lambs reminds me of the seemingly endless energy and innocence of young creatures and children and the wonderful gifts they are to their parents. Written by Glenn Jacques

Old Mrs Ewe Knits in Blue by Joan Rooney

Old Mrs. Ewe’s hard at work
knitting woollies for her flock.
Maybe a scarf to warm a neck
perhaps a pair of cozy socks.

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack
needles ‘n’ wool do swiftly fly
their rhythm steady and sure
as cooler days go quickly by.

Her lambs will be nicely warm
all snug as a bug in a rug,
since long before the snows fall
all will be wrapped in a big woolly hug.

Gracious God, the sheep that night in Bethlehem were safe in the care of shepherds. Give us faith to know that you show up and are our shepherd, and you care for us unconditionally.  Amen

Recipe for Cream Puffs: Enjoy these with family and friends for a special gathering at the table.

This scrumptious recipe comes from Dorothy Frook.

Dorothy says: I grew up on the farm where we milked cows by hand, so cream was available. Having said that the cream from the cows was a source of income, therefore Cream Puffs were only made for special occasions like Christmas and Easter or if there was extra cream. As a source of interest back then the cream was whipped using a hand mixer.  This is my Mother’s recipe. I make these for special occasions and special events. Always a great dessert.

Ingredients: ½ cup butter   1cup water 1 cup flour       3 eggs

  • Boil butter and water until butter is dissolved.
  • Add flour, stir while boiling.
  • Boil until it forms a ball. Let cool (about ½ hour)
  • Add eggs, one at a time and stir well (you may beat with electric mixer) after each egg. 

This makes 12 medium puffs. Put the Batter in tart tin or drop by teaspoon full on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Bake at 452°F. For 15 to 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cool and fill with whipped cream that is sweetened to taste.

You can bake these and freeze (without filling) for use at a later date.

Advent devotions for this 3rd week of expanded Advent observation

Peace to you this week. Here are the items shared this week which are not covered by copyright. If you would like to be added to the mailing list contact Pastor Pam at the church e-mail.

Meditation on Joseph, husband of Mary: by Bruce Dahms

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:19-20

Joseph – Earthly Father of Jesus – Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Often when setting up the crèche during the season of Advent I have paused and pondered the personalities and characters that make up the holy scene. Of particular interest is the statue of a man who is proudly standing with Mary admiring their newborn child. We find scripture includes Joseph in the life of Jesus from his birth to about twelve years of age. However, what we do know from the gospel of Matthew, is that God chose young adolescent Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus because he was a righteous person.

 Righteous meaning he demonstrated the ability to act correctly in any circumstance. Certainly his actions toward Mary, his fiancé, indicated a kind and sensitive person. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own. Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a disastrous social stigma. Joseph had the right to divorce Mary, and under Jewish law have her stoned to death. Joseph is reassured by an angel of God’s hand in this humiliating event.

We know the rest of that story! The scriptures do not tell us much about Joseph the carpenter’s fatherly role. To me Joseph’s actions reveal examples of integrity and righteous love. As a parent he ensured his children were equipped to make a livelihood by passing on a trade, in this case carpentry. Equally important, he provided opportunity for spiritual growth and religious experiences for his family. Joseph had strong convictions and acted accordingly. Even when personally wronged he was sensitive to someone else’s shame. He obeyed God and practiced self-control-again a wonderful example of integrity and godly character.

My study and contemplation on this crèche character-Joseph-leads me to these ‘life-lessons’: It is not easy to entrust your children to someone else. Imagine, God choosing a teenaged young man to raise his own son. Joseph had God’s trust. Mercy always triumphs. Joseph could have acted severely towards Mary’s apparent indiscretion, but he chose to offer love and forgiveness. Walking in obedience to God may lead to humiliation and shame in our society-but He leads and guides us as we trust.

Bruce Dahms

“Holy Father, graciously grant us, by the example of Joseph, the obedience and sincere will to complete the work you set us to do. AMEN

Second item is a scrumptious recipe from Pam Polfuss Schmidt:

Spicy Ginger Snaps

Pam Polfuss Schmidt says: “These spicy little cookies are so delicious, especially during the holidays! They remind me of the ginger snaps my Grandma used to make, and when I bite into one, it feels like a warm hug.


2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¾ tsp cinnamon

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp cloves

¾ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar + ¼ cup for rolling

1 egg

¼ cup molasses

  • Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease cookie sheets.
  • In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter and 1 cup sugar using mixer until well mixed, about one minute. Add the egg and molasses; beat on low speed until completely incorporated, scraping down the bowl occasionally with a spatula. Slowly add the flour mixture until mixed thoroughly.
  • Put the ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop up a rounded teaspoon of dough, roll between the palms of your hands into a ball. Lightly roll dough ball in the sugar to coat it completely and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 3 inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time, until the cookie edges are just lightly browned and the tops are firm at the edges and cracked in the centre, 14 – 16 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then using a wide spatula, transfer to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Yields 20 large cookies.

Use this time together in the kitchen to share stories about making decisions, learning the hard way, and loving as the default response. Peace to you and spicy cookies and milk

Advent devotions for the second week of extended Advent Observance

This week we meditated on God meeting us in our fear; May these reflections and activities bless you on your advent journey. + Pastor Pam

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” Luke 1:46

I like to think of Mary as being a human being. An ordinary person with an extraordinary faith. Some even think of her as “too perfect a person to relate to.” The one favoured by God and chosen for the special mission of being the Mother of Jesus. She realizes God has chosen her for a relationship never before experienced. She accepts God as the giver of all that she has. Her faith is without reservation. As individuals we can celebrate the impossible made possible by God.

When I feel insecure about my ability to handle things, I want to remember Mary. I’ll remember that God hand picks us for our unique roles and then accept that role given me as an honour. When my future looks bleak, I must remember that Mary knew much about what lay in her future and she still said “yes”, knowing God would sustain and carry her through it all. When I face loss of family, friends, a way of life and other things precious to me, I will remember Mary’s loss…. and her words of whole-hearted acceptance, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

When I see Mary in the nativity, I think of a plain, ordinary woman with a great faith who not only gave us the gift of Jesus through whom we receive forgiveness, but also for the saints, the ordinary people whose lives give us the courage to live out our faith in your kingdom here on earth.

Marlene Dietz

Prayer: God of love, thank you for Mary and her bold spirit in the midst of life’s difficulties. May her song stay in our hearts and give us courage. Amen.

Hot Eggnog: This recipe comes from Pastor Pam. Her mom made this as a special treat around this time of year. When things became too hectic we would sit in the late afternoon or evening and slow down with this treat. Hope you enjoy it. The trick is to add the hot milk to the egg yolks without cooking them!


2 eggs

4 tablespoons sugar

1 pint whole milk

½ cup heavy cream (optional)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

If desired, add ½ cup brandy, Bourbon, rum or Sherry


Separate egg whites and yolk, and reserve. Place yolks in mixing bowl, and whisk until light and smooth. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat yolks again until well incorporated. Set aside.

In separate bowl, add egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until peaks form. Set aside.

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk (and cream if using), vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Stir in zig-zag fashion until steam begins to rise and small bubbles appear. Remove from heat.

Slooooowly pour warm milk mixture into beaten egg yolks, and stir constantly to not cook eggs. (My mom added the milk by Tablespoon size portions) Add a few drops of vanilla, or brandy or desired spirits, and continue to stir. Fold egg white mixture into nog. Ladle into 2 mugs. Top with (fresh grated) nutmeg for garnish. Serves 2.

Advent journey from November 9

We have had some interesting devotions this week as we begin our advent journey of waiting and longing and anticipation. The resource we are using this year is called “Generation to Generation” and explores how we share heritage, faith stories, and other important things through the generations. Some of the material is copyright and only available through personal email delivery. (sign up at sgblparish@gmail.com) However, on Friday i will do my best to post the non-copyright mailings for your enjoyment. The intent is to encourage and make normal Holy conversation in your home through the generations. Peace be with you. Pastor Pam

December 9 activity:

Homemade Mall-Style Soft Pretzels

This recipe is shared by the Haan family – Jill, Jerry, Elliott and Jordan. They enjoy this as a special treat fresh out of the oven or as a side for chili or soup when you want to warm up on a cold winter’s day. Sometimes these are just a nice weekend treat or a great potluck addition!


2/3 cup baking soda (yes this is correct)

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast

1 tsp kosher salt

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter divided

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Vegetable oil for greasing the bowl

1 Tbsp. pretzel salt for sprinkling.

this handwritten note is on Jill’s recipe:

‘season with grated parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning’


  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Evenly sprinkle the baking soda over the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter.
  2. Meanwhile, pour one cup of warm water into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit until the yeast becomes frothy. – about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and the 2 Tbsp. of melted butter.
  3. Add the flour, stirring in a bit at a time, until a dough forms and loses most of its stickiness. Knead the dough until smooth, then lift from the bowl and oil the bowl with vegetable oil. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a wam spot until doubled in size – about 45 – 60 minutes.
  4. Remove the baked baking soda from the oven and set aside.
  5. (Make sure not to breathe it in or handle it with your bare hands as it can be irritating.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Spray non-stick spray on your counter or large cutting board, or use parchment paper to cover. Pour out the risen dough.
  8. Cut the dough into strips approximately 1-11/2wide and 8” long . Then stretch and roll the dough strips until they are long, thing ropes, about 36” each. Shape the ropes into the classic pretzel shape (there might be a video your could look at to demonstrate this)
  9. Pour 3 cups of hot tap water into a large, non-reactive bowl. Whisk the baked baking soda into the hot water until dissolved. Briefly dip each pretzel, one at a time, into the baking solution and then place on the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to fit 6, barely touching pretzels on the sheet. Sprinkle the pretzels with pretzel salt.
  10. Bake for 8 minutes, turning the tray 1800 half-way through. Melt the remainder of the butter.
  11. Brush the freshly baked pretzels with melted butter and serve warm.

Gather the family around to prepare this and to share this splendid treat! Advent blessings to you.

7 Week devotion during advent

Coming November 6: An Advent Devotion

you are invited to join the parish mailing list for this devotion. (unsubscribe at any time) Request to be added to the parish mailing list by emailing sgblparish@gmail.com. (because of copyright restrictions, this devotion cannot be shared through this blog. )

Here is what will happen: 4 times each week between November 6 and December 23 you will receive an email with a short devotion or activity to be shared with those in your family.

From Generation to Generation… reminds us of the ways our lives, histories, actions and stories are interconnected and woven together. The work of God is always unfolding – in and through us. This Advent, may you remember that you belong – to a story etched into the wrinkles of time, to generations that have come before and will come after, to a love that won’t let you go.”

Beginning on November 6 an email message will be sent to all parishioners on the mailing list. This is a project created by @Sanctifiedart, and used with permission.

The logo for the series represents a family with arms around each other, as they gathered around the table and around the manger.

The email devotions will be sent on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and will include things like:

  • favorite family recipes for the holidays,
  • original works of art,
  • poetry and other thought inspiring items
  • Meditations with contributions from members of the parish.

… and are designed to gather families around the table and around the manger. May you be blessed in this season of waiting and longing and hope.

It is my prayer that these devotions will inspire family discussion and participation and the Holy conversation will be natural and common in your home.