If you had a miniature Christmas village set up in your home, what shop, building, or other object would be the most prominently displayed in your little town?
I would probably have a beautiful church with a tall steeple.
A sky full of God’s children! Each galaxy, each star, each living creature, every particle and subatomic particle of creation, we are all children of the Maker. From a subatomic particle with a life span of a few seconds, to a galaxy with a life span of billions of years, to us human creatures somewhere in the middle in size and age, we are made in God’s image, male and female, and we are, as Christ promised us, God’s children by adoption and grace.
Children of God, made in God’s image. How? Genesis gives no explanations, but we do know instinctively that it is not a physical image. God’s explanation is to send Jesus, the incarnate One, God enfleshed. Don’t try to explain the Incarnation to me! It is further from being explainable than the furthest star in the furthest galaxy. It is love, God’s limitless love enfleshing that love into the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully divine.
Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?
- “A Sky Full of Children” by Madeleine L’Engle
As I read this passage, I was overcome with wonder at the magnitude of the fact of the Incarnation. How wonderful that God would shake off his infinite splendor and join us, “human creatures somewhere in the middle in size and age,” and become one of us so absolutely. L’Engle is right – the Incarnation cannot be satisfactorily explained. It is far too marvelous and mysterious for human comprehension. Somehow, someway, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Another beloved Bennett family tradition is baking lots of Christmas cookies. My mom and I started baking this week, so I wanted to share one of our favorite cookie recipes with you. Our Pealing Bells cookies are a Bennett family original – Mom found a picture of the idea but completely re-imagined the recipe. Here it is!
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups flour, Golden 86 (white whole wheat)
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon almond extract or cherry extract
25 maraschino cherries, halved and well drained
Cream sugar, butter, and cream cheese. Beat in egg yolk. Stir in flour, nuts, salt, orange peel, and almond extract. Shape dough into two 8-inch rolls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut logs into 1/4-inch slices. Place the rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets. Place a cherry-half near the bottom of each slice for a bell clapper. Fold in the sides of each slice, overlapping at the top and slightly covering cherry. Pinch in the sides to resemble a bell shape.
Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until done. Slip the parchment paper with the baked cookies onto wire racks to cool. Store between layers of wax paper in airtight containers at room temperature no longer than 10 days or in the freezer no longer than three months.
Makes 5 dozen bells
From the kitchen of Sally Bennett, 11-08-10