(This post was printed in the March Newsletter of the Northeast Region of the Episcopal Church in CT)
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
There’s a fun moment when you contemplate the Feast of the Annunciation, the Feast Day when we remember the day when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph in an out of the way small town called Nazareth. This Feast is on March 25th. Exactly 9 months later is December 25th. This Feast is an incredibly literal, physical, remembrance of Mary’s pregnancy.
‘Greetings, favoured one!’ said the angel when he arrived. ‘May the Lord be with you!’ She was disturbed at this, and wondered what such a greeting might mean. (Luke 1: 28-29)
It’s a little disturbing to be thinking Christmas here in March, in Lent. Wrong time, wrong season. We’re anticipating Easter. We feel like we just finally got all the Christmas decorations put away. And yet, surprise, here’s this Feast that is a big enough deal, a Feast of our Lord, that it trumps our Lenten fasting, and for me, anyway, it helps me empathize with Mary. She, after all, didn’t ask for any of this – and she still say yes to God.
Maybe I’m being influenced by my seasonal depression I get each March, but for me, this season is a wearisome slog. When the Feast of the Annunciation comes, it jolts me with the reminder that God comes, not when I’m well-rested and ready, but whenever God’s plan calls of me. I want to say yes too.
For my feast inspiration, I borrow from my Catholic siblings in Christ – there are some beautiful words from the Epistle of the Mass on Assumption Day (a feast that is not on our Episcopal calendar), which call Mary “exalted like a cedar in Libanus, a cypress tree on Mt. Sion, a palm in Cades, a rose plant in Jericho; a fair olive tree by the water, a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm, a sweet odor like the best myrrh.”
What, then, could be more appropriate than spicy cookies with a “sweet smell like cinnamon”, with their fragrance lingering through the house as they bake?
This Spice Cookies recipe is from Cooking for Christ, by Florence Berger
· 1/4 cup melted butter
· 1/2 cup warm molasses
· 1/4 cup brown sugar
· 1-7/8 cups flour
· 1/3 teaspoon soda
· 1/3 teaspoon salt
· 1/3 teaspoon ginger
· 1/3 teaspoon cloves
· 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
· 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
· 1/8 teaspoon allspice
Mix butter, molasses and sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients. Chill until hard (preferably overnight). Roll very thin. Bake in a moderate oven (375°) for six minutes. Cookies may be iced.