Sometimes when the new year comes around I just want to say ‘whew!’ I think about this past year and part of me is glad for its passing and other parts of me are grateful for the incredible events of the year.
On Sunday, December 29th we had an informal service, what I called a ‘coffee and cake’ service. We sat in the fellowship hall, enjoyed some homemade brunch goodies, sang hymns, prayed and shared the scripture. On this day I shared Peterson’s interpretation of Psalm 51. Peterson was responsible for the publishing of ‘The Message,’ an interpretation of the bible that applies a lot of modern language and feelings and this version of Psalm 51 was no different. The original text was listed as a prayer from David after he murdered Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba in order to marry her. It is a psalm of repentance, of asking for forgiveness from God. I figured what better way to end the year!
Seriously, I think if everyone could take a breath and pray as David did in this passage, the world would be a better place. One of my favorite lines is “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.” I think at the end of the year we all could stand a little bit of a new creation in our lives, a ‘Genesis week’ to get us a fresh start in a new decade.
The service continued with some lively discussions around the wording, around who we are as humans and a surprising question about whether Jesus ever made mistakes (see what you missed?). I love this kind of worship experience, where we are active participants in worship. You know, John Wesley told us that we should ask questions about our faith, even tough questions. Some of them we may even have answers for, others we just have to accept without an answer. Wesley’s famous foundation for our faith rests on Reason, Experience, Scripture, and Tradition (REST) with Scripture have primacy but all the others are important as well.
With all this in mind, I’d like to give you a chance for a fresh start this decade. I’ve included the Psalm 51 passage that we used. I urge you to take time this month to read it, not once, not twice but at least ten times during the month. I find it really helpful to read it out loud. Each time stop at a different sentence and read that one sentence twice. Let it soak in. You can read it as David did, a prayer to God or just read it. I promise you two things from this. First, God will hear you. God always hears us when we pray. Second, I promise if you do it earnestly, with intent, paying attention to it, you will notice something about yourself.
Now, for something else of importance. I baked a coffee cake for the Sunday service and several of you asked for the recipe. It was my mom’s recipe, passed to her from her friend Anita. The cake is called ‘Nochures’ and it is a delight to share it with you. Happy New Year!
Nochures (coffee cake) recipe from Pastor Rick’s mom, Margaret (Peg) Rabe
preheat oven to 350
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening (I used soft margarine)
combine above to make a crumble, reserve 1 ½ cup for topping
1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk + 2 tbsp vinegar)
2 eggs beaten
1 generous teaspoon baking soda
add to the flour mix
grease a 13 x 9 pan (or a 10 x 10)
pour the mixture into the pan, sprinkle the crumb mixture on top
sprinkle cinnamon on top
dot top with pats of butter
note: crumbled walnuts or pecans may be added to mixture or to topping
Bake for 30 minutes or until done – if you are using a smaller pan (like 10 x 10) plan on an additional 10 – 15 minutes baking time
Psalm 51 (from The Message)
A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba
Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me into foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.
Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Make Zion the place you delight in, repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us, acts of worship small and large, Including all the bulls they can heave onto your altar!