Once upon a time a mother and daughter who were working together
in the kitchen preparing the Easter dinner.
They always worked together to make their special traditional family Easter meal. No matter what the mother was doing, it seemed that the daughter was always watching her intently. The mother could even feel her daughters big brown eyes on her without even turning to see if she was in the room. Yet she continued with her task of preparing the meal without even missing a beat or a blink.
As she did every year the mother took the pan out of the cupboard and set it on the counter. Then she went to the fridge and removed the ham that had been defrosting. They had a large ham this year. It was not unusually large or different then last year's ham.
She took the wrapping off and then proceeded to cut about an inch off of either end of the ham.
Before the mother even put the ham in the pan the daughter stopped her and said:
"Mom why did you cut the ends off the ham?".
The mother stopped in her tracks and pondered the question. She was rather perplexed since no one had ever asked her why she cut the ham that way before. She had done it that way as long as she could remember.
The mother answered her daughter and said: "Well sweetie, I really don't know the answer to your question. Your Grandma always cut the ends off of her ham and I have just naturally done the same thing. I never ever wondered why I did that though. So let's call Grandma and ask her why she cuts the ham that way."
So they grabbed the phone and called Grandma. Then the mother asked her mother if she knew why she cut the ends of the ham off before placing it in the pan.
The Grandmother stopped and became rather quiet. She hadn't thought about her ritual of cutting the ham being anything different then normal. Then it occurred to her that her own mother had done the very same thing for as long as she remembered. The Grandmother suggested that the daughter call her mother and ask her that very question.
So she hung up the phone and dialed the little girl's great-grandmother. After the usual pleasantries she asked her why she cut the ends of the ham off before cooking it. She replied without hesitation and with a smile in her voice along with a little chuckle...... The reason that she cut the ends off of the ham was because back in the early days of their marriage she didn't have a pan big enough to hold the ham. They couldn't afford to buy a bigger pan either. So that was the only way to make the ham fit in the pan. Now we know why she has done that for as long as they can remember and so do you.
~ The Centurion ~
I knew it when the earthquake came. Already, the day had changed itís face completely. It was so dark the birds had gone to roost! People were carrying lanterns. I never saw midnight any darker. And, I never saw midnight in the middle of the day! Over 2 hours, already, and it showed no sign of daybreak.
So, now, what? All those tales, these superstitious people, told had been true! I had barely listened. But, I retained what I had heard and this was too much! What do I do? I never uttered the name of God, except in an expletive, and this guy looked so ordinary - so like any other man. How could I have known? Should I stop the whole thing? I am a soldier and Iíve earned my way up the ranks. Though I hold some power, it was gained by obeying orders. So, I could not take it upon myself to undo what they had ordered. I am only a centurion.
I sat down and watched. When the lightning came and illuminated His face, I saw the suffering. But, also, that face held love. I even heard Him say, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." I never heard that one before. I was used to the filth spewed out from these criminalís mouths. But, this was something new.
Now that the sun was gone (it wasnít just that the sun was gone, it was really dark!) and the wind had risen, and the rain came, it sounded like all of nature was mourning. The thunder came, again, with the lightning illuminating the sign above His head ... "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". Was I executing a King?
It was more than that! Cesar, himself, could not have called down this storm and certainly not the earthquake. That was what settled it for me. More than a King, an area that I completely avoided in all my studies. I preferred not to clutter my brain with those superstitious lies.
What did it matter how this world came to be? I was here and I would do the best I could with the one life I had. But, if Someone made it, controlled it, cared about it ... well, thatís something I had never toyed with. But, I sure would want to know everything about it. Where had He been all my life?
The night hadnít been a good one anyway. They called me to oversee the collection of some guy that had hung himself. The Jews take this week too seriously; killing all those lambs, letting blood until the Kidron is discolored with the blood! What a strange people!
I thought, today, I would have to oversee the execution by crucifixion of two thieves. Some time through the night, they had thrown this fellow in. So, whatís one more? It would not take any longer part of the day. But, this was no ordinary man.
We divided His few possessions. His robe was seamless, woven in one piece, quite a masterpiece. So, we cast the dice.
He spoke to no one, until that thief said, "Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom!" and then He said, "Verily I say unto you, today, you shall be with me in Paradise!"
The day had grown so dark that I couldnít see His face when He said, "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?" But, I could feel the agony of the cry.
When things got back to normal, I would certainly do some investigating on this Man. I watched it all. Sitting in the rain with trembling earth beneath. He had directed his last words to only a few, that thief, his friend, John, and his mother, and Some unseen force. He had said, at the last, "Father" and looked toward the sky, "Into Your hands I commend my spirit!"
I had never overseen a crucifixion like this. We had Him down before the sun set, having been certain of his death by the spear. We didnít break His legs and, suddenly, I didnít want anything rash to happen to this body. So, His soul was gone. Do we possess a soul? No matter, I would pursue that later.
I told my soldiers to be careful. Let Him down gently, not the way we put Him up. His body was evidence of the last 24 hours. There had been enough pain inflicted.
Already, there were two men, there, with proper papers to take the body. No one needed to tell them to be careful. They handled this Man as if He were Precious Stone! These men were in that high court the Jews have, the Sanhedrin. I had seen them both at the temple grounds and at the palace.
We took our spoils and left. I knew I had a lot of questions to be answered, never given to staying in ignorance.
The storm let up and the sky lightened. It was strange, like having daybreak from the west.
I just thought I was through with the Man. Only a couple of hours and the call came to set a guard at His tomb. "Why would we need soldiers to guard a tomb?" I had asked. They told me because of some tales passed around, by this Manís friends, and they were afraid of someone stealing the body and saying He had risen from the dead.
What a riot that would cause! It would have been better if they had left this Jesus alive! Well, the men would be thrilled at their exciting job. I would dispatch them and they would complain and be bored for a few days.
Meanwhile, I had plans for my free time. I had the sign that had been above His head: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" and now I brought it out. Strange words for a criminal, strange day. Strange feelings in my heart, so callused by all the "orders" I had followed.
I had the feeling that I was beginning a great adventure, for it had grown quite dark, now, and there was a definite chill in the air. I reached for my coat and started out in the night air. Nicodemus had said I could come anytime, said he once made a midnight visit that had changed his life. I would chance it. For, I had questions too great not to pursue!
Stepping out in the night air only brought back the events of the afternoon. I really expected the earth to tremble. That came the first day of the week.
My guards answered to me. But, I answered to Pilate. Even the Jews had set a guard and the body was gone! I never saw such scurrying! Money was flying. Pay us all to say His body was stolen! We knew better. For, we knew the penalty. But, better to take the bribe than to face the truth.
Someone had made a serious mistake and, for my part, I knew I would never be the same. I had found some answers and I was on my way to more.
What would you do if you had been there ... if you had seen the signs and heard the jeers, felt the earth quake, and seen the day disappear ... heard kind words, from a man dying, because you did your job? What would you do, if you had been in charge of the guard?
The door to my soul was open and I could not but follow. He had, truthfully, said, "They know not what they do ... Father, forgive."
I know I need many answers. But, until I get them all, I will repeat what I said on that hill, on that dark day, "TRULY, THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD!"
It was a thing she did well, serving, and, now, the sweet opportunity to serve the Master! She did her best! Mary helped ~ Lazarus, too. And, they waited, wondering, "Would He come?"
Last Passover, He came. What a stir! Perhaps those in power had seen. Of course, they had heard!
That scene was less than theirs had been, in the end. True, not such a crowd was present. But, the news of the happening had spread like wildfire!
A braided whip, merchants, and merchandise was one thing. But, four days dead! And, now, perhaps Lazarus and He Would banquet together!
They sat, those four (surely more, but those four). Lazarus, once dead, beside this One Who had such power! And, tears ... tears for love of a friend, tears for a city, tears for a people; tears for a world.
Mary, whose gratitude and love soon culminated in such a compassionate act ~ little realizing the fragrance would fill, not just this home in Bethany but, courts and palaces, whipping yards, the air of other kings ~ soldiers.
Martha, serving, in joy, the Master she loved; not chided now, but accepted, appreciated, loved and loving.
What an hour! To hear the conversation around that table, to see the devotion there; the servers trying hard to understand this talk of burial from the great Server, no talk here of petty things, no frivolity, no light
chitter~chatter. Memory cells were activated. They hung on every word! The hour ... so precious, to them ~ To Him!
The blessed calm
Before the storm,
Before the Victory!
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5-6 Granny Smith apples (make sure they can stand on their own)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
pie crust (homemade or pre-made)
1) Preheat oven to 375F.
2) Cut off the top of 4 apples off and discard. Remove the inside of each apple
with a spoon or melon baller very carefully, as to not puncture the peel.
If youíre a skilled interior apple excavator, salvage as much as you can so you
can use it for Step 2. I, on the other hand, am not skilled so I just had to
throw my interior apples away and chop up additional apples for filling.
3) Remove skin from remaining apple(s) and slice very thinly. These apple pieces
will give you the additional filling needed to fill the four apples you are
Mix sliced apples with sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. If you prefer more or less
cinnamon make adjustments as desired. Same goes for the sugar.
Scoop sliced apples into hollow apples.
4) Roll out pie crust and slice into 1/4 inch strips. You can also add a strip
of pastry inside the top of the apple almost like a liner to add a little more
texture/sweetness to the pie.
Cover the top of the apple in a lattice pattern with pie crust strips.
5) Place apples in an 8◊8 pan. Add just enough water to the cover the bottom of
Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown
and sliced apples are soft.
Makes 4 baked apple pies (in the apple).