The Connection Between the Church and Pretzels

Bavarian Pretzels

In the Medieval Period, the Catholic Church imposed stricter rules regarding fasting and abstinence during Lent than modern times. Meat, dairy, and eggs were prohibited during Lent. Grains, yeast, and water were acceptable. 

Legend has it that monks baked folded strips of bread dough in the basement of a monastery, to resemble the crossed arms of praying children to reward them for learning their prayers. This is one theory of the birth of the pretzel. 

By the 1600s, the interlocking pattern of the pretzel became the symbol of undying love. It is said that royal Swiss couples used a pretzel in their wedding ceremonies. This sealed the bond of matrimony, and might have stemmed from the phrase “tying the knot”, since pretzels were shaped to resemble that form. 

It would be unfair to tell you all about this baked good without sharing a recipe.

Pretzel Dough

Recipe for Bavarian Soft Pretzels – Makes 8 

  • 3.5 oz active dry yeast (half pack)
  • 10 oz lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • 4 quarts boiling water
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt (or substitute Kosher salt)
  1. Mix yeast and sugar in lukewarm water and add to flour
  2. Mix salt in softened butter and knead into dough then cut into 8 pieces
  3. Roll each piece out to 25 – 30 inches long
  4. Twist into a pretzel form, cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise for 12 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  6. Bring water to a boil then add baking soda
  7. After rising, boil pretzel dough for 30 seconds and remove with slotted spoon
  8. Place on a cookie sheet/baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat
  9. Top the pretzels with course salt and let rest for 20 minutes
  10. Bake about 20 minutes, remove, and place of cooling rack

Hearing and Singing on Good Friday

photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

This year, as on every Good Friday in the last decades, Hyosang Park, Princeton UMC’s music director, planned to observe the day by presenting a requiem, a musical    composition in honor of the agony and death of Jesus Christ. Choir members enthusiastically responded to a question about what this concert means to them. Just to participate in the celebration of Holy Week was important for Edwin Francisco. “It is always moving and exciting,” according to Bill Suits.

“It’s meaningful that some of our concerts were dedicated to members who had passed on,” said Karen Hoagland.

The lyrics of a requiem, said Christine Wong, “encompass major themes of the Bible: the covenant of salvation from Abraham to his descendants; God’s wrath and judgment; and man’s fear and suffocation for deliverance from sins and death. It abundantly praises God’s holiness and highness.”

Plans for the Good Friday have changed (Princeton UMC will have a virtual service at 6 p.m.) and choir rehearsals are now virtual, but – singers — here’s an innovative way to get the Holy Week music experience.’ Choose your favorite score, find the youtube video, and – sing along!

Joan Nuse would likely pick the requiem by living British composer Bob Chilcott. “It was an amazing experience. The songs were uplifting!”

Lori Pantaleo’s favorites include the one requiem by John Rutter. The most difficult, she said, came from France, by Maurice Durufle (1947) and Luigi Cherubini, who wrote his Requiem in c minor in 1816 to honor Louis XVI.  Other works in the Good Friday series were the “Seven Last Words” by Theodore Dubois in 1867, Faure’s Requiem (1890), Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata 21, Anton Bruckner’s Requiem in d minor, Handel’s Messiah, and the 1837 Requiem in C minor by Michael Haydn.

Here is one video of the Seven Last Words, by Dubois and here is a version that is part of a Good Friday service from Katy, Texas.

The Faure Requiem

The Chilcott

The Bruckner

The Michael Haydn

The Cherubini

This video of Bach’s Cantata 21 and this one of the Cherubini  even come with sheet music!

This beautiful version of the John Rutter Requiem was dedicated to  the tragedy at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.  

No matter what is on the program, or whether worshippers are present or online, Jenni Collins says she will look forward to “the intimate nature and the powerful emotion of a Good Friday service.”

 

PUMC Lenten Reflections March 12 – April 16, 2019

 

Journeying through Lent opens us up to see ourselves honestly, and to accept God’s grace in new ways. For Lenten Tuesdays, starting March 12, at noon in the chapel, PrincetonUMC offers 30-minute Lenten reflections followed by a light lunch. The entrance is on Nassau Street, at the corner of Vandeventer Avenue, and all are welcome. Invite your family and friends to join you.

 

Ash Wednesday and Tuesday Lenten Meditations

PRINCETON, N.J. During the Lenten season, Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) hosts services at convenient times. On Ash Wednesday, March 6, at noon, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz will lead worship.  At 7:30 p.m. clergy from the community will preside at an ecumenical service with Andrew Scales, Presbyterian chaplain to Princeton University, preaching. Both services will conclude with the imposition of ashes.

Planned to fit into a lunch hour, weekly Lenten meditations will be held on Tuesdays, from March 12 to April 16, noon to 12:30 p.m., in the chapel. Afterwards a light lunch will be served. Entrance is on Nassau Street, at the corner of Vandeventer Avenue. All are welcome.

PUMC is a diverse congregation whose members come from many surrounding communities, backgrounds, and faith histories. Sunday worship services and Sunday School classes are at 10 a.m. with nursery care available. Small groups for adults are at 8:45 a.m. Parking is free on Sunday mornings and the church is wheelchair accessible. Call 609-924-2613 , email office@princetonumc.org, or visit http://www.princetonumc.org/

Lenten Tuesday at Noon: March 7

What’s it like to come to Mid-week Lenten Worship at Princeton UMC? The 30-minute services are Tuesdays from noon to 12:30 in the small chapel; entering by the ramp door.

They continue every Tuesday through April 11 on the theme “Let All of Me Kneel before God’s Holy Name.”

For the first one on March 7, a dozen people gathered as Rev. Catherine Williams led worship on the theme “We worship God with our flesh,” meaning that the soul/spirit is not necessarily more important than the body.

Christopher McWilliams began by playing the evocative “Song of the Dark Woods” by E. Siegmeister, followed by the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”

Everyone read the following passages.

John 1:1-5, 14;

Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-18;

and 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

“The psalm reminds us of the care that God takes in forming bodies, and that even what we perceive as imperfections or physical flaws are useful to God in our worship and service,” said Catherine.

“The apostle Paul speaks of carrying about in his body marks that signify both the death and the life of Jesus. We are encouraged to worship and serve God with all of our bodies – this indicates true devotion.”

For a time of reflection, she offered the video This Is My Desire by Michael W. Smith.

After prayer, she closed with a couple of rousing rounds of the chorus This Little Light of Mine. 

Then everybody enjoyed the delicious lunch served by Lula Crawford. For her African Pea and Potato soup recipe, click here. 

EVERYone is welcome for Lenten Tuesdays. Come if you can!

Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Uncertainty.

Erik Skitch Matson — March 5, 2017 — 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

What is Lent?

Lent was spoken of in the 2nd Century, but then established as Lent with the typical Ash Wednesday in the 6th century under Gregory the Great.

Why? Self examination and Penitence in preparation for EASTER. It is a time for Repentance and Renewal: Giving up things, originally food until sundown (vegetarian), but now it is a more robust “Fasting”. It is also a time for self-reflection, prayer and reading of scripture

Gifts of the Darkwood  

Our sermon series is based on the book Gifts of the Dark Wood by Eric Elnes, a wonderful Lenten book for reflection. In this series we can see our time in the Dark Wood as a gift.

Another book worth reading, Dante’s Inferno is about finding your place in the world at the very point you feel farthest from it. Here the dark wood includes struggle. It is “where you meet God.”

As we explore the Gift of UNCERTAINTY, we realise that this is not a “Typical” gift. We like control, certainty, and understanding, now. So where can we go with uncertainty.?

In 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, we see a flurry of pride, and then a swift shift to vulnerability. I had always known Paul to be the confident leader, with the perfect pedigree and best teachers backing him — he’d fit into Princeton pretty well. But this is not your typical Paul. This Paul is more vulnerable about his own limitations and his own uncertainty. Paul admits that he sees dimly.  What would it take for us to have the courage to admit that our own spiritual vision is dim?

Take a look at the people around you: what would it take for us to dig into the Lenten season, and live in the Dark Wood of our lives together? What would it take for us to have faith, now, in these lives we live.

What would it take for us to be the body of Christ—a body where each member is known, loved, and cared for.

What would it take to be vulnerable with one another about our personal pains? Our sins? Our uncertainties?

We know we want it. We know we need it. But what will it take…?

It will take a Christian Community that has ONE body, and ONE blood. A Christian Community where we—the broken, the maimed, the sinners, and the saints—are welcomed and accepted.

Where at times we are supported, and also where we support others. Where we are known not for our rigid certainty, but our radical faith in the midst of the fluidity of real, human life.

The Christians we have looked up to for centuries… Can we follow their example? Can we create a community, here, in this place, where the hope of seeing Christ face to face leads us to accept our own spiritual vision as dim?

Where does this start? It starts with the Release of Shame. One Body, broken for you; One Blood, shed for you. The Free Gift of Grace transforms us to be the Christian Community that calls itself “The Body of Christ.”

Let us come…

As we take communion, we wonder if, by leaning on each other, our collective vision can be more powerful. Let us therefore go together, as one broken body, through the Dark Wood of Lent.

Valentine Treats: yummy breakfast, young voices

breakfast plate betterThis is the Sunday for another yummy breakfast, prepared by the United Methodist Men. We’ll hear how polio has almost been stamped out around the world. Another treat: the children’s choir will sing, directed by Tom Shelton. (Yes, these pictures were taken in warmer weather! (Also mark your calendars for February 28, Youth Sunday, when the kids join the Youth Choir to sing at both services.)

Our sermon series for Lent: “I AM”. Each Sunday in Lent, we will examine who Jesus is (the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Way the Truth the Life, and more). As we examine who Jesus is we will reflect on how that informs we who are as Christians.

Children's Choir1 Children's Choir2 Children's Choir3

Children's Choir4 Children's Choir5 Children's Choir6

 

Thursdays: Journaling through Lent

image by Marc Romanelli via Getty Images, from Huffington Post
Photo by Marc Romanelli via Getty Images, from Huffington Post

Betsy Arnold will lead a “Journaling through Lent” group on Thursdays, 11:30 to 12:30, in the conference room of the church. “Journaling is a very personal process and we will be exploring different ways to enjoy this spiritual practice,” she says.  “Please bring any thoughts, ideas, books, and techniques to share with the group. You will also need some type of journal or tablet of paper and your favorite pen. We will be doing some writing during our hour together.”

Intrigued? Check out this Huffington Post article about journaling as a tool for changing one’s life.
Betsy and her husband Bill moved to West Windsor last year; they have three children, one still in high school. Betsy graduated from Emory University and, earlier in her career, was a social worker. Now a published author, she is hard at work on Book III in the Tapestry series, a series of young adult historical fantasy novels set in medieval times.
 To join the journaling group, or for more information, call 609-924-2613 or email office@PrincetonUMC.org.

Pastor’s Pen: Leaning into Lent

2016LentenSeries-WildernessTimeSlider-943x345From Rev. Catherine Williams: As I write this note Lent is on my mind. This is the time of the liturgical year I think of death and renewal. The dry, barren woods behind my home remind me that nature is in her own necessary cycle of death and renewal, even as Lent approaches. What images does Lent conjure for you? As a child growing up in Anglican schools the images of this season were markedly somber: fasting, deprivation, denial, meatless Fridays, penitence, confession, and lots of songs in minor keys! It was all about traditional piety back then. As an adult however, I’ve learned to lean into Lent more purposefully. Leaning into Lent means preparing to strip down my faith to its bare essentials. I don’t always succeed but the process always yields a healthier spirituality.

This year our mid-week Lenten meditations invite us into a fresh experience of the wilderness. We can lean into Lent as we take the journey from our cultivated daily landscapes into the uninhabited places of prayer, fasting, study, or whatever spiritual discipline is most meaningful to us at this time.
Our Lenten sermon series, starting February 17, looks at the “I am” sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel according to John. Jesus identified himself in these sayings as the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door, and the Resurrection and the Life. These are powerful nodes of spiritual encounter that invite you and me to fertilize and prune our faith during this season of death and renewal. I hope you’ll take this invitation to heart and join us on this grace-filled journey as the Spirit leads us towards wholeness and healing. As we lean into Lent together, I offer for our meditation this hymn of prayer from Charles Wesley: (UMH #410)
I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near.
I want the first approach to feel of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will, and quench the kindling fire.
In Lenten simplicity.

Catherine Williams

Strong and courageous, strong and courageous, strong and courageous”

2015 3 10 Scott Sherill Tuesday

Scott Sherrill, the divinity student who just happens to be married to Deb Sherrill, PUMC’s office administrator, led the Midweek Lenten Gathering. To illustrate the topic “Change of Circumstances,” he chose the story of Joshua, who had to succeed Moses and lead the Israelites into the promised land.

Scott — who just happens to have experienced many surprising changes of circumstances in the last year — reminds us that God strenthens Joshua’s resolve by promising “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b)

Three times the Lord uses the same two words, strong and courageous, ending with “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Next in the “Change” series for Lenten Tuesdays:

Anna Gillette March 17: Change of Perspective
Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan asked us to shift our thinking, our judging, our ideas about what is right. Jesus challenges us to move beyond parameters and into a whole new way of living. 
Bianca Baird March 24: Change of Heart
Jesus’ words to the Pharisees give us pause: “You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.” Jesus invites us to experience a change of heart that will in fact change every part of our lives.
Shivonne McKay: Change of Plans
God’s ways are not our own. We expect a conquering king and hero, but Jesus instead leads us down the road to Jerusalem and humbles himself on the cross. God changes our plans and replaces them with a love broader and deeper than anything we could imagine.

Scott interned at Hightstown Methodist Church last summer and is at Trinity Episcopal Church this academic  year. We are blessed to have him participate in the life of this church!

PS: Joshua found out that God kept the covenant. The first city they came to crossing  over the Jordan was Jericho, and we all know what happened there!