Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve and Happy New Year!

I've gotten my days and nights mixed up. I didn't know it at the time, but it all started Saturday morning when I began to develop a headache. I tried taking a few pills but it didn't help. It stayed with me all day, into the night, and all through the night. It kept me from getting much sleep and it was just as bad in the morning. It may have been worse because all I got done was to unload the dishwasher before I felt too sick to stay upright.

I took a few more pills, and then went back to bed. I must have slept a bit better because it was early afternoon when I finally awoke. The headache was still there, but I was no longer feeling sick.

The problem is that because I slept all yesterday morning, I couldn't sleep well last night. Which just means that I won't have any problems staying awake for midnight to roll around this evening. That is really not a happy thought.

Our landscape has been quite snowy the last several days. It isn't terribly cold, but cold enough (low to mid 30's) to keep the snow around. It was dry all day today and overcast. However, the distant mountains on the mainland were visible (including Devil's Thumb) so the clouds were quite high. The snow covered mountains were highlighted against a deep blue background (rather than the gray clouds).

The only Japanese noodles we are able to get here are somen noodles. This morning I searched the web to look for instructions on making udon. I found some -- from a little bit complicated to really, really complicated. It sounded like an all day affair so I dropped that idea.

But in the process I stumbled across recipes for some of the traditional New Year celebration foods. I spent the afternoon putting together some kuromame, datemaki, and kurikinton. I did not use the rusty nails in the kuromame, and I don't have a cast iron pot, so the beans came out brown, rather than black. The chestnuts for the kurikinton were not of the highest quality. And I had to start with the raw chestnuts -- shell them, and then cook them in sugar. There are no Asian food stores here so no way to purchase pre-packaged chestnuts. And what I had were yams rather than sweet potatoes, so it turned out red rather than yellow. As for the mochi, the only thing I could find in town was a box of mochiko, so I did the best I could with it. It comes out rather soft and mushy. All in all, an approximation of a few of the Japanese New Year's dishes.

As I write, there are just 4 or so hours left in 2007. There are just two more time zones beyond ours, and there isn't much in the way of population in those two time zones. So I think I'm pretty safe in wishing everyone a Happy New Year at this time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sermon: A New Thing

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

This last sermon of 2007 is on the topic of God desiring to do new things in the lives of his people.

I brought together four passages in the Bible, the common theme being that of water and the life that it brings. The passages are Exodus 15:22-26, 2 Kings 2:19-22, Isaiah 43:16-21, and John 4:10-15.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Tales 2007

It's now two days after Christmas -- enough time to recover from all the happenings of Christmas Day. Here are just a few notes from the past few days.

Christmas Eve

Last year, I didn't go out into town on Christmas Eve. This year, I decided that I really should experience Julebukking. The main street was the most crowded I've seen. There was no parking available along the main thoroughfare -- I had to park a whole block up!

My first stop was Rexall Drugs, which every year offers a hot pastrami sandwich. The longest line was at this location. By the time I got there, it was no longer snaking out of the store and onto the sidewalk. It started just at the door. The Oxford Carolers came into the store and performed a couple of numbers. After waiting for some 20 minutes, I secured my sandwich and then walked back to the car to leave it there while I did my rounds at some of the other stores.

I made my way to the Hammer & Wikan hardware store where I sampled deli slices, cheeses, some smoked salmon, and a cookie. From there I went to the Trading Union for more of similar foods. While making my way from one place to another, I once again crossed paths with the Oxford Carolers.

My final stop was at the bookstore on Sing Lee Alley. While sampling their offerings, the carolers came in again, their final stop.

On the way back home, I swung by the home where Amy's new bicycle was being held for the last few weeks.

For supper, I made a Sweet Potato (Yam) and Apple Gratin. The sweetness of the yams and the maple syrup combines nicely with the tartness of the Granny Smith apples. It's a pretty simple recipe and doesn't take very much in the way of preparation. It does bake for about an hour, so you need to make sure that there is plenty of time for that.

In the evening we watched the last three North American Division Christmas specials: All is Bright (2005), Love's Pure Light (2006), and Christmas at Cadillac Jack's. The first one was mostly music set to a storyline. The second year seemed to be more drama, but still quite a bit of music. This year's was a Christmas drama and not really much in the way of music, except in the background. I thought all three were very well done. They are well worth watching, if you get the chance.

After the children had been tucked away, Elise got busy filling their stockings while I got busy installing fenders on Amy's bicycle. I discovered that the fenders that I got were for 26-inch wheels whereas the bicycle uses 700c wheels (slightly larger). The front wasn't a problem, but I had to finesse the back one to make sure the wheel didn't rub the fender. Once they were installed and I got the wheels back onto the bicycle, I discovered that the brakes either had never been adjusted correctly, or in the process of my work had knocked them slightly out. The wheels rubbed against the brakes, so I worked the adjustment screws until they spun freely. With that done, Elise put together a treasure hunt for Amy for in the morning, with the first clue placed in an envelope underneath the tree.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day began at 6 a.m. when the children awoke (or more accurately, were allowed to go downstairs to look for their stockings). After some searching they were found and they pulled out the contents to their delight.

It was not a white Christmas day. It was another of the gray and wet ones.

We had a quick breakfast and then went on to opening all of the presents under the tree. Amy's large gift was the bicycle (the black one). Shelley received a new bedding set, red and black, plus a mirror to mount somewhere on the wall.

Elise received two sets of Corelle dinnerware sets (for a total of 8 settings). The set of dishes and such that we originally started with, 15 years ago at our wedding, has nearly been depleted due to breakage and chipping. So now, we have a new set of matching dinnerware.

I got some books, including a recipe book for chocolate truffles; and a large, wooden cutting board. (Earlier, for my birthday, I got a 8-inch blade kitchen knife.)

Of course, there were many other gifts from numerous others.

Armed with a new knife and cutting board, I put together a Greek Orzo and Spinach Salad for the Christmas dinner to which we were invited. I also baked a small rib roast. Elise, meanwhile, put together some dinner rolls.

We went to the Christmas dinner and spent the remainder of the afternoon there. We returned home in the evening, and Elise went to work. I did a bit of cleaning about the kitchen before heading off early to bed.

White Day After Christmas

The snow came a day late. But because it was warmer, the snow was also quite wet and heavy. It quickly turned into slush, making the roads quite messy. I went out on my bicycle. The snow felt a bit like glue, making the pedaling effort more difficult, and with the ruts in the wet snow, there were times when the bike wanted to go its own way.


The skies were somewhat clear overnight, so the temperatures dropped and all that nasty slush turned into ice.


Here are a few photos from this past week.

Middle Harbor about a week ago...

Glowing Petersburg Mountain from our front window...

Scenes before the chaos...

After the chaos...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reader's Theater: A Census Without Sense

The Bible Church held their Christmas program this evening. The drama class and group, Mum's the Word, was a part of this and presented their Reader's Theater drama, A Census Without Sense. It is a Christmas drama set in the little town of Bethlehem...


Click HERE for video (Windows Media Video, 7.1 MB, 8 minutes).

Bible Reading 2007, Week 52

The Bible Reading for the remainder of December is Revelation 2-3, 5-18; Psalm 75; and Malachi 4.

Christmas Greetings 2007


It is hard to believe that we are soon to close out our first full calendar year in Southeast Alaska. Thanks to the many encouraging words and prayers, we’ve made it through.

Earlier this year we didn’t think our house in Oregon would ever sell, but it did, and then a couple of nerve-wracking months (okay, so for those that strictly interpret "couple" as "two," it was a "few" months) later, we were able to move in to a wonderfully old and new home.

Last winter was one of the snowiest winters on record, but we survived. We haven’t seen nearly as much snow so far this winter—we hope it stays that way.

Elise completed her RN re-licensing and is now a valued member of the city medical center staff. Shelley is now taller than Dad (as you might notice in the above photo), and Amy is quickly closing in. They continue to be home-schooled, though not necessarily enjoying every minute of it.

A recent highlight was the community Messiah performance in which both Mark and Shelley sang. Mark also sang the opening solo.

We hope you have a blessed and joyful holiday season.

Sermon: Three Kings

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

This sermon is probably not your typical Christmas sermon. It is taken from Matthew 2, in which King Herod (the Great) is actually the most prominent character.

The sermon discusses the responses of individuals and groups of people mentioned in Matthew 2 to the arrival of Jesus Christ. The application is in regards to the continued presence of "Herods" in the world today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Snow, Toffee, and a Christmas Party

It's been snowing again. Yesterday saw a couple of inches, and today another couple more. It's been the extremely light, fluffy kind.

The current Sunset magazine has a salted chocolate pecan toffee recipe. It seemed simple enough for even a newbie to candy making to follow, so I thought I would try it out. I thought the pecans were too expensive, and the Costco package was sold out. The next best thing was almonds. I thought they would make an acceptable replacement. There was no way I'd use walnuts. (I don't like them.) So yesterday I toasted the almonds and chopped them up. I measured the sugar and was about to start working with it when I started to read more of the recipe and discovered I'd need a candy thermometer. I also discovered we don't have one, or if we do, I don't know where it is. So I temporarily placed the toffee making on hold.

Last night, I spent a couple of hours creating a composite portrait out of two separate photos. One of our church families recently had their daughter get married. For some reason, the wedding pictures have not yet shown up. They really wanted a Christmas photo with the couple and their daughter, but there just wasn't one. They had photos from their camera and found two images that they thought might work. One was of the groom in outside, bright overcast conditions. The second was the bride and the groom's daughter sitting in the back seat of a car, taken with a flash and the yellowish dome light shining on the bride's hair.

I did a rough cut and paste to see if the composite could be composed in such a way to make it work reasonably well, and it fit surprisingly well together. So I spent the next couple of hours doing a finer cut of the bride and daughter and pasting them on top of the groom, blending the edges, adjusting the color tones, fixing the bride's hair color, matching the overall lighting intensity, etc.. The car seat was gray and so was the groom's tuxedo. That was fortunate because the bride's veil's background and the tuxedo more or less matched in color. At the start I wasn't too sure I could get it to work out, but in the end, I was happy with the result.

The photo story is actually connected with the toffee making story. When asked what I wanted in exchange for the photo work, I replied, "A candy thermometer." And so last night, I was lent one with a permanent one possibly following later.

Earlier today I went out to the church, on my bicycle, with studded tires, on the snow and ice. It's actually not that bad when the snow is fresh and there aren't too many ruts and berms.

Upon returning from the church I resumed the toffee making. I started the sugar and butter mixture in a what I thought was a large enough saucepan. Well, it wasn't. Once the mixture started to boil and froth, I quickly realized I needed a much larger pot. So quickly I transferred it to our largest pot. The problem now though was that the candy thermometer would no longer reach the mixture when it was clipped to the side of the pot. So, donning heavy rubber work gloves, I continued to stir the mixture while holding the thermometer in it.

The rest of the process went as the recipe said it should. I got the toffee poured into the baking sheet, then the chocolate on top of that, and then almonds and salt.

Once done and broken into pieces, I packaged about half of the toffee into a dozen little packages to be given out this Sabbath after church. The rest I am going to have to keep a close eye on and ration to the rest of my family. If left alone, they're going to disappear quite quickly, I'm afraid.

This evening, we hosted a Christmas party for the kids. We had a dozen girls, ranging in age from about 5 to 15. There was English Muffin pizzas, mozzarella fingers, and jalapeno poppers. They played a game of Christmas carol Pictionary, had some ice cream sundaes and banana splits, and then a game of Cranium. The evening concluded with a gift exchange.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 51

This week, the readings are in 1 and 2 Peter; James; Psalms 117-118, 120-123, 125-127.

Mime performance video


Here is the video. It is about 2MB in size in Windows Media Video format.

Amy is the fifth mime to enter, and Shelley is the sixth.

A busy weekend

I think the weekend we just had was the busiest of this season. And I hope it remains the busiest. I don't think I can handle another one like that for another 12 months.

Friday was all about finishing the decorating touches on the church and cleaning up the decorating process that inevitably remains on the floor and tables.

Sabbath morning started out early, getting everything we needed for the brunch and program, and going off to church. Once there we had to get everything set up, and the remaining food cooked and placed on the tables.

We had waffles with strawberry sauce and cream, eggs, fruit, yogurt, bread, cookies, and some turkey. I used about a dozen of the frozen waffles I made earlier and I made another dozen or so more on site.

The worship happened as planned and at the right time. I planned the whole thing to last in the vicinity of 90 minutes and I think it came pretty close to that. As is often the case, our family were the primarily participants, though there were a few more helping to make sure it didn't look like we were the only ones participating.

In spite of all the unknowns and worries I might have harbored, the morning seemed to go well. The kids' singing was well received. Shelley's solo went well, even though we decided that morning to do it and I was basically sight-reading the accompaniment.

From church, we rushed home for our girls to get ready for their drama performances at the library. The library hosts a Christmas program of music and literary arts. Among the performances, there were carols sung by the Oxford Carolers, readings of poetry and short stories, and a Reader's Theatre and mime performances by the drama group.

In the evening, two girls came to stay overnight, and as part of it to bake a cake for their mother and in the morning, go and purchase both birthday and Christmas gifts for her. So Sunday morning, Elise spent a large part of it dealing with our sleep-over guests.

In the meantime, I was reading the video recording of the Sabbath program into the computer for later editing.

Sunday afternoon, the drama group had a mime performance at the museum as part of the Christmas program there. It was similar to the program at the library. I had a video camera this time, so I was able to record the mime performance.

Our new dishwasher was delivered after we returned home. Even though delivery was free, there is no such thing as free or discounted installation and haul-away. So Elise and I spent the next couple of hours trying to get it installed. In past appliance purchases, I never really looked at the installation guide, since it was always done by someone else. I never realized how cryptic the guide can be. There are very few words and mostly diagrams and pictures. For someone who only does this once every few years, if ever, it was like trying to decipher a foreign language.

I discovered we needed a little "L" shaped elbow connector to connect the supply line to the dishwasher. Elise went out to get it. Then we discovered that the part fit the dishwasher, but not the hose. Fortunately, the old dishwasher that we'd taken outside, whose similar connector I thought was frozen onto it, after some yanks with a wrench, did come off. This fit both the dishwasher and the hose and so used it instead of the new part. Even though the supply connection on the new unit was in the opposite corner from the old one, we were able to get the old hose to connect (just barely).

Before I could drill in the securing screws to the cabinet frame, it was time to go to the Christmas dinner and theatre at the Presbyterian church. That was actually quite fortunate because our kitchen was in no shape to prepare dinner.

Elise worked, so after a quick dinner, walked out to the hospital while the rest of us stayed to enjoy dessert and the program. The program was about a number of the characters that did or might have played a part in the original Christmas story coming to talk with the audience about their parts in the story. And by doing so they each introduced a Christmas carol that we then sang.

After we returned home, I finished the dishwasher installation. As far as I can tell, there are no leaks, and I certainly hope it stays that way. The good news is that we now have a dishwasher that matches the other kitchen appliances.

I spent the rest of Sunday evening editing the Sabbath worship video -- cutting out dead space and other uninteresting portions, putting in fades and transitions, putting in DVD markers, etc., and then setting the computer to transcode the video into a DVD file while I slept.

I awoke early this morning and discovered that light snow was once again falling on the landscape. I burned a few copies of the DVD, and then extracted the audio and uploaded that to my web site.

I think things might return to a fairly normal state this week -- though there is a kid's Christmas party occurring on Tuesday evening. Okay, so other than that, this week looks more routine than the last.

Church Christmas Program 2007

(Click HERE for MP3 audio. Length: 1 hour 18 minutes. Size: 10 MB)


Including guests, we had twenty-two in attendance Sabbath morning for our Christmas worship service. The audio recording linked above has been edited to remove the dead space that occurs while participants are coming on and off and parts that don't translate well to a recording. The program graphic above should give you a general idea of what you are hearing on the recording. The middle section contains a smorgasbord of participatory elements of singing, music, and stories.

The recording appears to be mostly intelligible. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since it is taken from the video camera that was sitting at the back corner.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Approaching Christmas

I haven't posted much this week to this blog, simply because there hasn't been much going on. The cold and clear turned to snow and then to ice, and now it's just rain. There's still a bit of ice left, making things slick, but it's mostly back to good ol' Petersburg mud. There's snow in the forecast for next week.

I shoveled the driveway on Monday. I probably didn't need to, but by thinning the snow, it help prevent the snow from turning into ice, and allows the snow to melt away more quickly. Last year, I learned what happens when you don't do that. Last year, the church parking lot turned into one huge sheet of ice that took a very long time to thaw.

Also on Monday, I got around to changing over my bicycle wheels to studded tires. Even so, bicycling in slush is difficult -- a bit like trying to pedal through thick sand and mud.

The girls are in a homeschool drama class. The class is held at a home about 4 miles out. The driveway is quite steep and curved. On Monday, after the snow and then with the rain, it was quite slippery. Going up wasn't too bad, but coming down the driveway, I felt the back end of the pickup sliding out and towards a shallow ditch. Fortunately it stopped and I made it down. As soon as I returned home, I hauled 8 cinder blocks into two moving boxes that I placed into the pickup bed. Elise said that she didn't feel the back end slipping when she went to pick the girls up later in the afternoon.

Our dishwasher went "lights out" again. I tried taking apart the water circulation system to see about the piece that got loose the last time around. Either I couldn't find it, something else is starting to fail, or the part that I thought was the one wasn't it. So it looks like the Christmas present for me this year is a new dishwasher. I'd much rather have gotten a replacement camera body (for the one that is also comatose...) While browsing the limited selection of dishwashers in town, I found a really, really nice cook top, convection oven, and warming oven unit -- for $1600. It has a really big burner that would fit my really big saucepan. Ah, some other time... (or never... sigh...)

Tomorrow is our second annual Christmas brunch followed by our Christmas worship service. We are supplying waffles. I made and froze 30 waffles. In the morning, I plan to make another 20 or so at the church. The frozen ones are for "just in case" more people come than are expected.

We've received quite a number of packages and deliveries this week. I discovered that some retailers' free shipping offers do apply to our address. Some of them must have special arrangements with UPS, because the retail counter rates for 2nd Day Air service (which in reality means it takes about a week to get here) are horrendous (say $40 for a 1 pound package). A great number of online merchants refuse to ship to PO Boxes. UPS or FedEx is the only way to get packages shipped to a street address here.

Amy continues her morning trek out to the hospital to take and deliver coffee orders. Shelley works out at the Trading Union about 3 days a week. And Elise keeps busy with her work at the hospital.

This pretty much wraps up our week.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 50

We are quickly approaching the end of the year.

The readings this week are found in the book of Hebrews, all chapters except 3 and 4.

Next year, 2008, we will be going through the book of Revelation using the new devotional book by Jon Paulien, The Gospel from Patmos.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

First real snow of the winter

The snow started this morning, and it's been falling all day. For most of the day, the weather forecast has insisted that accumulation would only be about an inch. Now that there's a few inches on the ground, the forecast has changed to, "Oh by the way, expect 2 to 4 inches."

The air is supposed to warm up this week. It already has up to about 30F. So the snow may be short-lived. I may not have to put my as-yet-unused snow shovel to use quite yet.

The rest of this week was just very cold and dry. Shelley did go out to skate on the large pond at the ball field. Her skates are a bit too tight on her, so after about 30 minutes her feet are too sore to continue. We are looking on e-Bay to see about getting a larger, good, used pair of skates.

I am not a skater. I can propel myself around on the ice, but it isn't very pretty to see. I don't fall, but neither do I glide on the blades. I'm still trying to figure out how to hold my ankles and feet in order to get a better glide without doing so much scraping of the ice.

Our upcoming Sabbath will be our annual Christmas brunch and worship service. This year I'm trying something a little risky -- a worship potluck. In other words, everyone who wants to is invited to bring something to share during the worship time: a song or two, a story, poetry, or perhaps a Christmas memory. There won't be much in the way of pre-planned items or structure -- as the Spirit moves, those who are present will participate. Similar to a potluck of food, where you don't know quite what you'll find or experience, I'm hoping that the worship will be a delightful mix of surprise and discovery.

That doesn't mean I get the week off, however. The few young people we have will be singing a Christmas sketch, I'll need to prepare a few musical items, and perhaps keep a short story or message in the back pocket in case there isn't enough other participation.

Sermon: Season of Blessing

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Today's sermon looks at Psalm 103 -- a psalm of David in which he extols all of the benefits that God provides to his people.

I think it is quite apropos to the Christmas season -- after all, isn't God giving himself, incarnate in Jesus, (using a cliche) the reason for the season?

The sermon looks at some of the blessings and gifts that God provides, and then discusses what our response ought to be.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Brrr... cold, and a party

It is getting quite cold outside. The outside thermometer is showing about 16 degrees.

Tonight we hosted a retirement party for one of the nurses. We managed to fit a total of 25 people (including a baby) in our house. It was quite packed with people setting up chairs and sitting in the kitchen. It was a potluck dinner. There was so much food that the dining table was full, the buffet/sideboard (which is actually a couch table) was also full, three TV trays had to be set up, and there was still more food that some of it spilled over onto the kitchen counters.

We learned that the city's skating rink (portable rink on the ballfield) was up and running today. Since the forecast is still cold for a few more days, as long as the girls are able to get their schoolwork done and have some time left, they should be able to do some skating. This being outdoors, skating has to be done during daylight hours, which for us now (including twilight) is from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I've discovered that our backyard has quite a bit of a slope. So my attempts at creating a small rink is not going so well. I'm going to have to rethink tactics to try to see if I can manage something out there this winter. If not, I'll have to try something else next year. I wonder how much it would cost to get a contractor to come out and level out the yard... Probably way too much. Though at the same time that would take care of some of the skunk cabbage growing in the lawn...

Bible Reading 2007, Week 49

The weeks remaining in this year are just a handful. This week the readings are in 1 and 2 Timothy and Philippians.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Nutcracker in Petersburg

Shelley, Amy, and I went to see the performance of The Nutcracker presented by the local dance studio. It was a full house -- there were only a few isolated seats empty in the auditorium.

The previous two performances that I saw were by the Oregon Ballet Theatre a couple years back, and one performed by the San Francisco Ballet nearly fifteen years ago.

Of the three performances that I recall in my memory, I think by far, tonight's performance was the most, truly enjoyable one. It's almost absurd to compare this with the professional performances, but it's hard not to. When it comes to technical difficulty, precision, and accuracy; and the elaborateness of the costumes and the sets -- there is absolutely no comparison. The million dollar budgets of the professional companies win hands down.

But the absolute love and joy of performing that shows through -- I think that our local company can stand proudly with the world's best.

I didn't think The Nutcracker was supposed to be comedy, but there were certainly places in tonight's performance that elicited laughter from the audience. Most of it, I'm quite sure, was not intentionally that way. But when you've got a bunch of wee little kids (perhaps as young as 3 or 4 years old) as part of the choreography, the unexpected has to be expected. They run when they're supposed to sway, they sway in all different directions, and when going off stage, they forget to take their props with them and so one of them runs back on stage to pick up his prop. Or, how many Nutcracker performances include a dance to the song, O Christmas Tree?

Amy, who in the past has not shown too much enjoyment of ballet type performances, agreed that tonight's was enjoyable. I guess it's the magic and charm of a small town. We know the performers, and we can identify, if just a bit, with them as they perform. Strangely enough, it may be the imperfections that create the "magic."

What wasn't so magical was afterwards, going out to the car (borrowed) to go back home, it wouldn't start. I immediately realized that I had left the lights on. Our own pickup automatically shuts the lights off, and if the switch is left in the "Always On" position, the warning chimes. But the borrowed car has neither, and as habits are (obviously) hard to break, I simply left the lights on.

The other "magic" of the small town is that everything is close by. Elise is working tonight and the hospital is just a block away from where we parked. So we trudged up the hill, got the key from Elise, and drove back. Tomorrow morning when I go to pick up Elise, I'll have to stop by the car and jump start it.

The temperature has dropped into the low 20's. The weather forecast says it will get even colder over the next couple of days. Shelley insists it isn't that cold. She went to church and to The Nutcracker in a knee-length, sleeveless dress. Tonight, she was reluctantly convinced to also wear a jacket.

Our basement is reaching refrigerator temperatures. That isn't actually a good thing, because if it gets into the freezer temperature range, the pipes will start to freeze. So, reluctantly, I fired up the big heater for a few minutes this evening to warm the basement with some of the escaping heat. I'll have more "opportunity" to use this heater tomorrow when we host a retirement party for one of the nurses.

Sermon: Season of Dedication

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Today's sermon is based on the incident involving Jesus and the Jewish leaders that took place during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) at the temple in Jerusalem. It is recorded in John 10:22-42.

The primary question in this incident is: Who and what is the Messiah (Christ)? The Jewish leaders want and expect a certain answer. Jesus' response is altogether different -- he is a different kind of Messiah.

During the Christmas season, just now starting, what kind of Messiah or Christ are we desiring and seeking? Is it a worldly, material kind? Or the one that is found in Jesus, the Son of God? What do our words and actions (our works) show to the world who our real Messiah is? Are our claims and our works congruent?