My sister made a gorgeous chocolate log for Christmas Day – a Prue Leith recipe, without flour or almonds or cocoa powder or most other normal cake ingredients. Lots of chocolate, lots of eggs, sugar, cream, water and coffee powder. That’s it. But it was delicious. Very rich – I should probably have had a smaller slice… We’ve had a lot of good Christmas cakes in our family. My mum (and sister too, whoops) made this one in 1999. Isn’t it fabulous?
I did a fair bit of baking myself on my lovely week in the Lakes over new year. One of my friends had brought a bread maker and we had lots of wonderful fresh bread. The only trouble was, it took three and a half hours to bake. Which wasn’t ideal when we all got up rather late. The idea of a big cooked brunch sounded great but I really felt some carbohydrate was required, and all the bread had been eaten. Happily I found a recipe for a cheese scone round which took about ten minutes to make and fifteen minutes to bake. Even better – we had all the ingredients, and it all turned out just right.
My visits back to the Ship of Fools website over the past week or so have reminded me of some of the conversations I have had with people there, including one about whether God is real, or whether he is more like an absent father. One friend there talked about wanting to know for certain that God was real: as sure as a baker looking at a list of ingredients could see a cake. In my hopefully sensitive conversation with her I explained how for me, there is a list of reasons why I am a Christian:
1. Hope of heaven and eventual understanding
2. Belief in Jesus dying and rising again
3. Believing in Christian morals and ideology
4. Wanting to be part of a community
5. Moments of feeling God speaks to me
6. Belief in awesome creator of beautiful world
7. Needing a reason to keep going
8. Appreciation of Bible and Christian literature
9. Connectedness with Church traditions
10. Structure to week – purpose and activities
11. Solid, constant foundation in “storms of life”
12. Believe it’s true even when I don’t feel it
13. Love for Christian friends and family who bless me
14. It’s part of my personal history and identity
I said how I think most of these things are more important to me than a feeling of a personal relationship with God and that these things don’t sway with my emotions. How these ingredients for me add up to cake – even if it is a fairly dry sponge rather than the gooey chocolatey kind I might prefer. And how I have hope of better cake in the life to come.
Yesterday at church we were looking to the new year ahead. We are starting a sermon series on how the people of Israel eventually came out of the desert and entered the promised land. The year before last we looked at the journey through the desert, and it seemed rather apt, just as the financial crisis arrived. 2010 has been a very difficult year for our church community and I would love to see us move on into a time of blessing. One positive indicator for me was the big Victoria Sponge cake filled with jam and cream which a friend had made for us to enjoy with our teas and coffees. Oh yes.