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March 25, 2013

Morning Coffee: Colossians and Vegan Cookbooks

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

I’ve been battling my old thorn-in-the-side lately, namely writer’s block. Every now and then, I would rather spend my time reading or listening to music (country, that is, on NASH-FM, 94.7) instead of tapping out anything on my computer. Even when forced to write — sermons don’t get downloaded here — I find myself struggling to put words together. Fighting this thorn is emotionally troubling; when I am in the non-writing zone, it is awfully hard to get me out of it.

windowslivewritermondaymorningcoffee6.18.07-619ecoffee-thumbnail4.jpgEven with the internal urge to write during Lent as a kind of ‘Lenten discipline,’ my motivation to do such a noble task was lacking.

This morning, I remembered what an old high school teacher told me when I would go through similar issues during my youth days: “Buck up and write. It may be garbage writing, but it’s writing.”

Motivated by the knowledge that I need to beat this writing demon back, I returned to the house after Morning Prayer and opened my Chromebook with the hopes of writing anything.

I believe that I need to put myself on a regular writing schedule. What I write may not make a lot of sense. In fact, I may not write it all here on The Pastor’s Blog. Struggling through this blockade is going to be a chore, but I will try.

– In Morning Prayer today, we finished up our readings from Colossians, reading through Chapter 3. As I was reading, the words just popped off the page. Here are the first 17 verses of the chapter:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Saint Paul clearly reminds us that our lives as Baptized believers in our Lord Jesus is one of faith in Him, but is also living that faith in Him in our lives. Our Christian character is more than just a daily recital of The Lord’s Prayer; it is one of faithful love, peace, and service. As we start our Holy Week walk, Saint Paul’s words are ever so important.

– But this morning, I was almost late for Morning Prayer. I was sitting at home reading through a couple of low-fat vegan cookbooks I own. My oncologist made a good suggestion to me: “Anthony, stop eating so much bread and pasta and instead eat soup.” One of my biggest eating crutches throughout my life has been bread and pasta. I could blame my DNA or my heavily-influenced Italian upbringing for my everyday desire to eat a loaf of bread and a box of Ronzoni. To me, these are my comfort foods. When it is cold outside or I am worried, I grab for whole wheat bread or a bowl of penne. They provide the calming I need to continue. Add in that I was taking medication that included a steroid, my winter weight came back on, though my doctor fully believes my weight gain was steroid-induced and not because I ate a daily serving of pasta.

Getting away from these crutches is fairly easy: I just won’t buy them. Will I crave them, especially today as we’re expecting another snow event? Of course. But if I do not have them in the house to cook, I can’t comfort my chilly worries away with spaghetti.

My doctor suggested making soup. Last week, I did make a very good low-fat vegan sweet potato bisque. And yesterday, I made a low-fat vegan mushroom barley soup. Yes, I have left overs from both in the freezer and could easily defrost one of them. But today, being my “day off” in the week (of which in Holy Week, there are no days off for clergy people), I want to make something else.

So before Morning Prayer, I was flipping through the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and The Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook looking for soup inspiration. At first, I felt Split pea calling to me. Then, a recipe called Red-Red Stew (an African stew found in Everyday Happy Herbivore). And with the stew recipe, it is suggested that fried bananas be included as a side dish. I haven’t had plantains in ages, and fried bananas without oil or that cooking spray have to be good. But as I was battled whether I should go for the stew or the soup, I noticed that the time had gotten away from me. It was 7:09am and Morning Prayer starts at 7:15am. Getting to church on time is fairly easy since I live in the house just beyond Saint Matthew’s backdoor. And Morning Prayer went off without a scheduling hitch.

However, we had a little hitch — on our website, our readings have been linked to the New International Version 1984 bible, the same as the bibles we have for our Morning Prayer services. Biblegateway (where we link to our readings) has stopped offering the NIV from 1984, so the online version is slightly different than the printed bible version.

Well, I’m off to a meeting. I should be back to church by midday.

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