Today I finally get to stay home and wrap, bake, etc. . . .kind of. I had to take Matthew to work this morning and will be picking him up again this afternoon, but other than that, I get to stay home and do some things.
Cherry cookies are on the list for baking today. I always seem to start my baking with these cookies – I think because they are so festive. It’s simply a drop sugar cookie recipe with pecans in them. After dropping the cookies on the cookie sheet, you place a candied cherry in the center of each and then bake. I grew up watching my mom bake these at Christmas and now I love to make them, too! My children love to put the cherries on.
Here’s the recipe:
Cherry Christmas Cookies
1 1/3 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup pecans
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons milk
Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar. Beat eggs – add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Sift dry ingredients. Stir into creamed mixture, together with milk.
Drop from spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Top with candied cherries. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.
I stayed up too late last night working on the Christmas cards – it helped (?) that I had caffeine for lunch and dinner! I made good progress, though so I’m glad I did – of course, the kids may not feel the same way later when I start snapping at them from my lack of sleep. . .sigh!
Growing up at Christmastime, we would always watch “The Homecoming” on television. You know the one – the Walton family, before the series, with a different Mom and Dad, but mostly the same kids. In this movie, some of the children joined their neighbor children down at the general store – there was a lady giving away toys to anyone who could quote a Bible verse – ah, the excitement! Well, one of the little children quoted the shortest verse in the Bible:
“Jesus wept.” (John 11: 35)
I used to think that this verse was just a statement of Christ’s grief over the death of his friend, Lazarus. The truth of this verse actually goes so much deeper than that. I learned this in a Bible study years ago, and it has deepened my understanding and relationship with the Lord. Jesus received word of the illness of Lazarus days before. He could have gone immediately to his side and healed him. But, that was not the Father’s plan. He was planning to use this situation for His glory. After Jesus knew that Lazarus had died, He began His journey back to Judea. When He arrived, He found many people gathered around Lazarus’ sisters – Mary and Martha – comforting them in their grief. Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days already. It is at this point in the story that we find our verse of the day – “Jesus wept.” Naturally, we tend to think that He was simply grieving along with the rest of them, but remember, He chose to stay away until He knew Lazarus was gone. He also, in His divine intelligence, knew that He was about to raise him from the dead. No, the reason He wept was over the effect of sin on the world and mankind. It showed His great love for us – He hates sin and the effect it has had on His creation. People didn’t die, or experience grief before sin entered the world through Adam & Eve. Christ was weeping over the sadness and grief that sin has caused.
My point in picking this verse is this – He knows our situation and HE CARES!!!! Isn’t it wonderful to have a God Who is moved to tears by our own hardships and grief? He, having walked the earth in human form, has experienced what we experience and loves us enough to come to die for us. He also intercedes for us with the Father. Hebrews has a wonderful passage pertaining to this:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest Who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4: 14-16
He wept, and He still weeps over our sin today, but He has defeated it! His death was for the sole purpose of paying our sin debt to God. He did this freely, without requiring anything from us, except that we accept His free gift of salvation from our sin and it’s penalties. It is a free gift – and yet, how many will believe and accept His gift?
Christmas is so much more than the celebration of Christ’s birth – it is the celebration of the wonderful gift that God gave us – His own Son as payment for our sin and the freedom from the slavery to sin that we are born into. Praise the Lord!
Oh, and in case you don’t know the rest of the Lazarus story – Jesus raised him from the dead (just as He does us, from our spiritual death in sin) and the Father was glorified and many put their faith in Him that day.