Marinating in Liturgy

Sometimes I don’t have a recipe. I have an idea of what I want, but I don’t want to go find a recipe that both ticks the boxes of what I want and also meets my requirement of I-have-all-the-ingredients/substitutes. This happens to me a lot when it comes to marinades. I don’t buy bottled mixes (I don’t plan that well and they are expensive) and, as we have discussed previously, I’m not that great at following recipes. So sometimes, I’m making up a marinade.

The beauty of a marinade is that it is basically a chemical formula that can be customized to fit your flavor profile: you need an acid to break down the tough fibers of the meat (eg vinegar, citrus juice), a fat to absorb into the meat and to bind the flavors to the protein (eg oil) and whatever other flavors you wish to incorporate. So = 1 part acid, 2 parts fat, 1 part everything else. And voila! A marinade to make your food yummy! So for an easy Asian marinade, I went with the below combination:

Asian Marinade

For 2-3 pounds of meat

1/4 c rice vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 c soy sauce
2 c oil
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs ground ginger (fresh minced is even better)
1 tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and pour over meat. Refrigerate in a non-corrosive container (eg. ziploc bag, stainless steel, glass or ceramic) for at least two hours, overnight is ideal.

To me, growing up with kitchen chemistry is much like having grown up in church. I mean that somewhat literally– my mom is the daughter of a food chemist and my dad is a Presbyterian minister and has been since before he even met my mother. Following God’s call for my father’s ministry, we moved around a number of times, starting from scratch each time. While that process was sometimes challenging, just like beginning to cook without a recipe, I started to learn that we were never truly starting from scratch. God was preparing a congregation to meet us and preparing us to become a part of that new congregation.

Our congregations were fairly similar to one another– midsize family churches with some young families and just as many shut-ins, with traditional, liturgical worship services with remarkable organists and always a Church Martha. And even after I moved out on my own and started choosing my own churches, I chose the same sort of church. In many ways, I am a creature of habit.

What I’ve realized is that whenever I became a part of a new church, I didn’t have to start from scratch in figuring out what I wanted and needed. There is a basic formula which has flexibility in the flavors, but not in the chemical makeup (fat and acid). The flavor of my church was variable (the music, style, chairs vs pews) but the core was not (theology). I have found that the liturgy somehow seems to combine these two in just the right way for me. Continue reading


Loving In Deed

Valentine's DayIt’s that time of year again, the time of year men bemoan and women anxiously fret over whether or not their men will come through or, if single, if they will spend the day alone. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day! As I’ve grown older, the meaning of the day has changed a lot for me, likely primarily because I have outgrown a lot of that high school insecurity. However, as much as I think we shouldn’t overvalue Valentine’s Day, I do think it is important to remember the importance of what the day is meant to celebrate and encourage: love.

Little children, let’s not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

A major theme in Scripture is our responsibility to “love one another as [Christ has] loved you” (John 5:12). Call me crazy, but that sounds… well…hard. Like, really hard. I could be wrong, but I don’t think, Jesus was talking about giving each other chocolates one day a year. I also don’t think he was talking about giving said chocolates to just our significant others. I think, just maybe, He was talking about something bigger, much bigger.

So how can we love one another, like we are commanded? Well, fortunately, one of the ways you can do it is with food! (Yes, that’s always a wonderful answer!)

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Jesus vs. The Keurig

Sharing Coffee Together

Let’s talk about one of my most favorite blessings: coffee. Its bittersweet ebony nectar brings a beautiful calm to my mornings (and afternoons and evenings and…) and I am so thankful that coffee is widely available in this day and age.

Fortunately for me, I am not truly addicted (anymore, at least) to caffeine like most Americans and I can function completely normally without my morning coffee. But a morning coffee is a signal of a healthy morning routine for me. As an introvert, I’m desperate for a quiet morning with minimal human interaction and this prepares me for the coming day. A cup of coffee and my book for twenty or thirty minutes is a perfect and calming start to my day. So it should be no surprise that a prayer over coffee is a pretty frequent thing; quiet time and Bible reading is usually accompanied by a cup of the glorious brew. But despite all this, despite my love for a private cup o’ joe, I don’t believe in coffee as an independent activity.

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