Tuesday, March 14, 2017

WAS IST DAS?!?!

I know I was just recently touting the virtues of giving up vices for Lenten Season ... but I never said I'd give up CHOCOLATE during this time period!!  Thank goodness because I was recently watching TV (a rare event with our busy lives!!) ... and I caught a glimpse of a familiar purple packaging I have known and loved since my childhood summers in Germany ... and it was combined with one of my favorite American cookies:

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS??!



Classic Milchschokolade Milka bars are my very favorite .... just pure milk chocolate goodness.
but there are about 50 varieties of Milka products to include some just for upcoming Easter:



This post may be the first of a series sharing my FAVORITE German/Swiss/European chocolates ... because this is one subject that I rarely lack inspiration about.  What is your favorite German/European confection?



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fastenzeit (Fasting Time)

Crossofashes.jpg

Today is Ash Wednesday ... I'm not Catholic or Lutheran or any denomination that observes this event formally, and so this is really not a tradition that is familiar to me although when we lived in the Franconian region of Bavaria while stationed in Germany, this day was a part of the German holiday calendar for the state.   Germans call this day Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday), and it is (or was) a school holiday in many, if not all, states of Germany. 

The more I've read about the German practices of Advent and other observations, the more I am convinced that these dates can be a good lesson or time for reflection for any Christian.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season of 40 days of fasting.  The word fast/fasting is derived from the German word Fasten

It wouldn't hurt any of us to either give up or add something to our spiritual practices for just 40 days. Isn't it doing something over and over again for 21 days that creates a habit?  Perhaps it is a way to instill something good into our lives anyway!? 

The religious connotation of Lent and fasting seem to focus on giving up something - meat, sweets, alcohol, etc.  We could also add something:  a daily Bible reading or devotion, a random act of kindness or such like for 40 days.  And then maybe even beyond!

Of course, the purpose of Ash Wednesday is to repent and enter into fasting with a clean heart and conscience before God and men.  That's never a bad idea either!  Sack-cloth-and-ashes repentance is definitely a Bible concept, seen especially in the Old Testament. 

In doing a little research about this topic, I came across an interesting article from Christianity Today's website, discussing the merits of observing Lent from a Baptist and Protestant perspective:  Lent-Why Bother?  I will disclaimer that not everything in the article or by Christianity Today reflects this blog author's beliefs, but I think there is much redeeming material here.

So, Ash Wednesday and Lent --- Do you already observe it?  Does your particular church or denomination?  Do you find it might be useful for anyone claiming a relationship with God? 

Lent lasts now until the Saturday before Easter.  It is to be a time of repentance and preparation and self-reflection for 40 dedicated days (not counting Sundays).  The significance of 40 in the Bible seems to be tied to probation or trials, although I don't want to get tied up too much in numerology, but consider this:

Here are some examples of the Bible’s use of the number 40 that stress the theme of testing or judgment:

In the Old Testament, when God destroyed the earth with water, He caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12). After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian, where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks (Acts 7:30). Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25). The Law specified a maximum number of lashes a man could receive for a crime, setting the limit at 40 (Deuteronomy 25:3). The Israelite spies took 40 days to spy out Canaan (Numbers 13:25). The Israelites wandered for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-5). Before Samson’s deliverance, Israel served the Philistines for 40 years (Judges 13:1). Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him (1 Samuel 17:16). When Elijah fled from Jezebel, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).

The number 40 also appears in the prophecies of Ezekiel (4:6; 29:11-13) and Jonah (3:4).

In the New Testament, Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights (
Matthew 4:2). There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3).
(source)

I haven't committed to giving up or adding anything yet today ... but I might.  After all, it is "only" 40 days, and who knows what the long-lasting consequences have the potential to be! 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The New Year RUTSCH

Image result for guten rutsch

2017 is underway!  I have neglected my blog ... and the time "between the years" - zwichen den Jahren in German, which is used to describe the days between Christmas and New Year or the 6th of January (Epiphany) - got away from me.  

In Germany, the common wish for New Years Eve is "Ein Guten Rutsch!".  It is wishing someone a good slide into the new year (Rutsch = slide).  Actually, you aren't hoping someone will slide into the year well for fear of them maybe falling down along the way - like sliding across a patch of ice successfully ...

But the verb rutsch, which today means "to slide", was used over 100 years ago also to mean "to travel".  And so, to wish someone a good Rutsch means the equivalent of wishing them a good journey into the new year.  

VOCAB TIDBIT:

Rutsch in the new years greeting is a noun.  It is a slide, a slip, or a trip.  Ein Guten Rutsch!

Rutsch is a also verb that can be conjugated to mean "to slide". 

An example of using both of these forms in one sentence is:

Ich rutsche auf der Rutsche.  

That second Rutsche (nouns in German are always capitalized!!) in the above sentence is short for Rutschbahn (literally a sliding lane or track).  Can you guess what that is?

Image result for rutschbahn
A slide!  

Anyway, I hope I won't let my blog SLIDE so long again ... and look forward to sharing more German with you in 2017!



Sunday, December 18, 2016

4.Advent 2016


John Donne (1572-1631)

Annunciation

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

3. Advent 2016


Time continues to move us toward Christmas ... We have already celebrated the 1. Advent and 2. Advent Sundays.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Advent.  Gautede is the Latin word for REJOICE.

 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men, the Lord is at hand; be careful for nothing, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God."  Philippians 4:4

A friend recently mentioned on Facebook how she knew of many people who are going into the Christmas season in particular with heavy hearts.  I too know of a few families who are facing the death of a loved one, are feeling financial pressures more than ever, and some who are just worn down with worries and care.  I too can get caught up in the general sadness of circumstances and situations.  While it is easy to REJOICE in good times and when life seems #blessed, it isn't always do easy to do when burdened down with care.  

 A Dutch theologian Henri Nouwen, who lived and taught in the United States for a while until close to his death in 1996, was known for openly sharing about personal struggles and how to deal with them with a spiritual perspective.  I don't necessarily endorse his theology or everything he said and wrote; however, he gave a good description of the difference between being happy and having joy:

While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is "the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing -- sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death -- can take that love away."  Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness.

And I would add that if you know Jesus PERSONALLY, there is much to rejoice about just in the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ... John 3:16


Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!