Saturday, June 23, 2012

Praying five times a day

Here is a practice I have picked up from my Muslim friends.

How many of us say "Yes, I pray every day"? But what do we mean?
Many of us mean that we turn to God with requests and petitions - often with the right intention and a good heart, with a desire to help people who are in need or hurting or suffering all across the world.
But we don't always just pray, as in 'spend time to praise and worship God' ...

In the Church of England it has been a practice over the centuries to read daily morning, evening and night-time prayers. A wonderful practice, but often just left to the clergy and not many parishioners come to attend.

My Muslim friends are very familiar with daily prayers. One of the five pillars of Islam is to pray (say Salah) five times a day at specific times.

So I have adapted this concept of regular prayer by putting verses and readings from the Bible to the Islamic prayer movements (standing, bowing and prostrating). I have found prostrating myself before God a particularly powerful experience.

Here is a rough outline of the prayers and readings I use. (I might change the readings and prayers occasionally, depending on what is particularly on my heart)

1)Stand, hand to ears
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be”

2)Stand, hands clasped over chest
Collect of the day

Matthew 5:3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

3)Hands on knees
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. “

4)Stand, “Glory to God and peace to his people on earth”, then
Kneel and prostrate
Lord's Prayer

Kneel and prostrate again
Matthew 22:37-40
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Repeat 2)-4) two- four times, ending on your knees, looking right and left
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all,

Intercessory prayer can be added at the end.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sparkling elderflower wine

Sparkling Elderflower Wine

This year I am trying a new recipe, which my friend and colleague Chris kindly shared with me.
With the elderflower cordial and the low-alcoholic elderflower champagne already done, it is now time to try making sparkling elderflower wine.

Here is the recipe:

Elderflower Champagne (4 gallons)

6 pints elderflowers (thick green stalks removed)
3 lemons (Zest and Juice)
3 limes (Zest and Juice)
2 serving spoons white wine vinegar
2 level teaspoons pectolase (optional)
3 kg sugar dissolved in water
Top-up to 4 gallons warm water (specific gravity approx 60)
Sprinkle 5g yeast over surface and leave for 15 min before stirring in (I use champagne yeast though any wine yeast will do)
Cover and allow to stand for 72 hrs stirring twice a day (I weigh the must down with a plate during this part of the process)
After 72 hrs remove must and siphon on into demijohns, seal with an airlock and store at or slightly above room temp for 17 days
This is the secret stage…..
On day 17 the wine will almost have fermented out and will have settled well, carefully (without disturbing the sediment) siphon on again into your plastic fizzy drink bottles having first added to the bottles 100ml sugar solution (1kgsugar/1litre water) for every litre of wine that you’ll be bottling. Note – it’s a good idea to leave a gap between the top of the bottle and the top of the wine (approx 4 or 5 cm)
Tightly seal your bottles and store at room temp (ideally somewhere that should the bottles explode they’ll not do too much damage!)
A third fermentation will hopefully begin to take place in the sealed bottles carbonating the wine – this will cease once the sugar is consumed of the alcohol content reaches approx 22% volume at which point the yeast dies from alcohol poisoning! (whichever is soonest).
I reckon it takes about another month for this last stage to be complete so probably don’t drink before the month is out. I have however kept the sealed bottles untouched for over six months and when opened still had delightfully sparkling elderflower champagne….best served chilled!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Along the Grand Union Canal

Today I went for a long walk.

First along the Grand Union Canal, where I spotted this heron on the other side.

Then along the old disused canal arm. Here are the remnants of a.n old lock

The past the river Great Ouse ...

... until I reached the Grand Union canal. Here is the old Iron Aqueduct, recently repainted.

Up the fields.

And back home. I love where I live!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jubilee rhubarb & vanilla jam

Just in time for our Jubilee community event, I have made some delicious rhubarb and vanilla jam.

1kg rhubarb , weighed after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin - we used Tate & Lyle)
2 vanilla pods , halved lengthways
juice 1 lemon

Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your finger through the jam - if the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2-min intervals, testing in between. (Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105C)
Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.

Makes 4 lb jars.

ENJOY THE JUBILEE WEEKEND. Whatever the weather!