What I Learned Making Matzo

Sermon Series Bread 1110 x 624Lenten Sermon Series: Bread
This sermon series was inspired by the book Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg.

Message 1 of 5: Matzo and Manna
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 16:1-3; Exodus 16:13-15
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 3/1/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire contemporary worship service, including the message which starts at the 33-minute mark.

Andrew McGowanThis is Andrew McGowan. He’s Australian. He’s an Episcopal priest and seminary professor. He’s the Dean of the Divinity School at Yale and an expert in ancient bread making.

Last week we passed out copies of one of his recipes. Andrew’s 18-Minute Kosher Matzo

If we’re thinking about bread in the Scriptures, we have to start at the beginning with the unleavened bread of those running for their freedom from slavery under Pharoah. The Bread of Affliction.

Deuteronomy 16:1-3, The Passover Remembrance Instructions
1 Observe the month of Abib by keeping the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 You shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3 You must not eat with it anything leavened. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it—the bread of affliction—because you came out of the land of Egypt in great haste, so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt.

matzo ingredientsWhat I Learned Making Matzo-
The Bread of Affliction

Last night at about 10:00 pm, I decided to make matzo. I had to come over to the church to get a rolling pin. We didn’t have one. I don’t bake.

Prepare- I had to gather the ingredients. How different was my experience than that of folks in the ancient world, especially slaves? They had to grind the grain into flour by hand. They had to gather the water by hand in the heat of the desert. Was it bitter? Was it nearby? They had to gather whatever they used to make fire by hand.

All I had to do was turn on the oven. But I had to wait for the oven to heat to 490°. A blazing, oppressive 490°. As I waited, I began to imagine the slaves waiting for freedom. The longing. The praying for deliverance for hundreds of years, for generations.

What deliverance have I been praying for for a long long time? My weight. My perfectionism. Who else this very night is longing and praying for deliverance? What’s on their heart?

As I’m waiting, I’m looking at the ingredients. There’s only two- water and flour. No oil. No spices. Not even salt. It is the bread of affliction. I’m baking old fashioned paste.

For the slaves, there was never enough. They were always scraping, always hungry. They made do with so little.

The oven is ready and its time to begin. Real matzo is finished in 18 minutes or less, start to finish. I wound my old school tick, tick, tick timer. On your mark, get set, go.

I began working the water and flour together with my hands like they would have. I used spelt flour, a flour of the ancient world. It has a darker color and rougher texture than refined, white flour. It’s brown. The color of mud.

My mind went to the slaves working the mud into bricks. With tools. With their hands. It the heat of the desert. Soul-breaking as well as back-breaking work.

18 minutes- tick tick tick tick. It’s just sitting there on the counter laughing at me. Will there be enough time? For the slaves, there was never enough time. Never enough time to do all the work for Pharaoh. Tick Tick Tick Tick. Lash of the whip. Shouts of the overseers.

Never enough time. Never enough time. Tick tick tick tick. Never enough time to rest. Rest? There was no rest, you’re a slave.

Exodus 1:13-14
The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

We can’t begin to imagine how bad it was – ruthless is in there twice. Bitter water. Bitter bread. Bitter lives. I can’t think too much. Tick tick tick tick

matzo doughTime to divide the dough into 4 pieces. Division. The divide between the rulers and the slaves. Power and oppression. Division due to fear, injustice, prejudice. God calls us to be peacemakers, to end division. I can’t think about that too much. Time is moving, tick tick tick tick

Time to roll out the dough. Push and pull and push and pull. This is work. I don’t bake. Push and pull and push and pull tick, tick, tick tick.

Work harder. Work faster. Make bread. Make bread without salt. Make bricks. Make bricks without straw. Tick tick tick tick

Then I realized, I am making slave food! I am literally making slave food. Thousands of years later and slavery hasn’t ended. Thousands of years later. Cant’ think about that too much. Tick tick tick tick

The dough became so thin, so fragile. How fragile life is. How fragile life was. Would it tear as I lifted it from the counter to the parchment paper?

Once it’s on the parchment paper you have to take a fork and pierce it. Stab, stab, stab, stab. It’s brutal. The brutality of the slave drivers, of their lives, even their food. Where in my life am I using my words and power in a brutal way?

Mocking, whipping, injustice, stab stab stab stab- a crown of thorns, stab – a spear in the side. My Jesus! The brutality Jesus experienced that we might be free from slavery to sin and death and shame.

matzo finishedI get it into the oven and wonder- what will happen?

Exodus 2:23-25
The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Out of the slavery, their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

What’s going to happen with all the slavery, shackles, division, and brutality? God takes notice. God hears our cries.

At first, there was not enough time to work, not enough time to rest. Then there was not enough time to prepare to leave. The Israelites are going. God is saving them. They’re heading out through the sea and through the wilderness and into the promised land.

It is time to leave. Leave, leave now. Tick tick tick tick. In the middle of the night, leave this slavery for freedom. Leave this slavery for home.

That’s what happened to them and that’s what can happen for us. It’s time to leave the slavery for freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…

Exodus 16:13-15
13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

What is it? It is manna which literally means, “what is it?.” God frees us and provides for us.

This is manna, not matzo.

Matzo is the bread of Pharaoh. The bread of affliction, slavery, brutality, prejudice, division, exploitation, fear…

God gives manna, the bread of heaven. So different I can’t even wrap my head around it.

What is it?
It’s manna, the bread of heaven.
It’s sweet. It’s flaky. It’s freely given.
I don’t have to push and pull and strive.

It’s rest, freely given.
I’m no longer a slave.
I can sabbath.

Freedom, freely given.

Grace, freely given.

New life, freely given.

New every morning,
day after day after day after day…
for them and for us

Exodus 16:6-7
“…In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning, you will see the glory of the LORD…”

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Sermon- Matzo and Manna © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Effective Planning Strategies: Batching Work and Work Sprints (Pomodoro)

black and white photo of clocks

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. – Harvey Mackay 

“Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”

Psalm 90:12 reminds us to value our time and tend it well because it is a gift of God. Using it well honors the gift.

This is the second of a series of posts on effective planning strategies. These simple strategies work again and again for me and I hope they help you as well.

Today, let’s explore two related strategies- Batching Work and Work Sprints.

Batching Work
Switching from one project/task to another takes more effort than we realize. It takes time to gather supplies and resources for the next project, plus additional time to remember where you are in the project.

Batching work minimizes switching between projects/tasks, saving time and energy. We naturally do this for things like exercise and hygiene so it’s easy to expand this to other parts of our day.

Rather than answering emails throughout the day, you batch that work into one time period. This is equally helpful for returning phone calls, meal preparation, tending to social media, shopping, spiritual practices, reading, etc.

I used to plan two worship services weekly. I’d drag out all my planning resources and reorient myself to the themes. Now I plan four-six weeks in one batch. It’s so much easier and quicker.

Batching work is also helpful for larger projects requiring deep thinking. Setting aside a few hours on a single project creates energy and momentum for brainstorming, decision making, and laying out the steps for implementation.

Work Sprints (Pomodoro Technique)
Batching becomes even more powerful when paired with work sprints. In a work sprint, you set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work on a single project/task. At the end of the 25 minutes, you take a 5-minute break, then decide if you’re moving on to a different task or staying with the current task.

Work Sprints are also known as the Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s while he was a university student. His timer was a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, pomodoro in Italian. Be sure to check out the video below, his website, and his book for a deeper explanation of the strategy.

Why I Value Work Sprints

  • It helps me recognize how long I’m spending on one project/task. This keeps my perfectionism in check.
  • It keeps my monkey brain from jumping from project to project and my rabbit brain from chasing distractions.
  • It helps me start a project I’m procrastinating doing because its hard, scary, or new. “It’s only 25 minutes. I can handle this.”
  • It’s fun to race the clock.

Let me know how these strategies work for you. I’d also love to hear what other strategies help you honor God’s gift of time and work. Leave a comment below.

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Effective Planning Strategies: Batching Work and Work Sprints
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Effective Planning Strategies: Kanban Boards

Kanban 2019 Nov

Kanban at the beginning of the 4th quarter

My time is my time, and I must live my time with as much fullness and significance as I am capable of, because my little segment of time is all the time that I have. – Howard Thurman

This is the first of a series of posts on effective planning strategies. These simple strategies work again and again for me and I hope they help you as well.

Time is a gift of God. Using our time well honors the gift.

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true. ― Greg Reid

Today, let’s explore Kanban Boards. A Kanban Board is a visual representation of the progress of projects you’re using to achieve your goals.

I use a super-simplified, 90 day Kanban. This means I make a new one four times a year. It feels like a fresh start with each season.

I learned this planning strategy from author Sarra Cannon. For a deeper dive into this strategy, check out her YouTube tutorials here and here.

WHAT MATERIALS DO I NEED?
1. Small post-it notes and a standard poster board from an “everything’s a dollar” type store, or feel free to spend more

2. A pen

3. Paper to make your list of goals, projects, and tasks (see below)

MAKING YOUR LIST OF GOALS, PROJECTS, AND TASKS
Set 1-3 goals for the next 90 days
On a piece of paper, name each goal. Be specific. Make it measurable if you can. If your goal is very large, you can set a goal within the larger goal.

Make clear goal choices. There will be time for other goals in the next 90 days. This is the season for this. It’s empowering to have boundaries and a plan for healthy work choices.

Ask yourself: Why is this goal important? What do I dream will happen if I achieve this goal? How will my life look different? How will the lives of others look different?

Examples: Payoff $1,500 in debt this quarter. Deepen my prayer life this quarter. Better understand the Holy Spirit by the end of this quarter. Increase the size of my small group by 10 people this quarter.

Choose projects to help you reach your goal
On the same paper, divide each goal into smaller pieces. Choose one or more projects needed to achieve each piece. Once you’ve chosen your projects, decide which ones need to come first, second, etc.

Divide your projects into tasks
On the same paper, list the tasks for each project. Tasks should be small enough to achieve in a week or less. Big goals are met little by little over time.

Assign each task a date if you can, spreading out the tasks over the entire 90 day period. If you know you won’t be working certain days during the 90 days due to holidays, vacation, or other obligations, don’t plan any tasks for that time. Honor your time off.

SETTING UP YOUR KANBAN BOARD
Color Code
Assign each goal a different sticky note color. (Example: Goal A is blue. Goal B is yellow.) Each task for goal A is then written on its own blue sticky note. Each task for goal B is then written on its own yellow sticky note. You will have many sticky notes.

Arranging Your Kanban Board
Arrange all the sticky notes on the poster board by color. Start with the tasks which will be done towards the end of the 90 days at the top of the board.

Work your way down the poster board, with the tasks you’ll do the soonest placed last. Leave at least a third of the poster board at the bottom with no sticky notes.

USING YOUR KANBAN BOARD
Choose a few tasks from each goal to accomplish each week. Move them from their starting place on the poster board to the center of the board. Focus on those tasks only. Other tasks are for other weeks.

When you complete a task, move it from the center of the board to the bottom of the board. This is surprisingly satisfying.

Be careful of continuing to move tasks to the center of the board. For some, any items in the center of the board makes it difficult to sabbath (day of rest.) For others, knowing their next tasks after their sabbath is helpful.

As you complete more and more tasks, you’ll see the sticky notes shifting from the top of the board to the bottom of the board. You can easily see your progress. You can see the movement even when you can’t feel it.⠀⁠

At the end of the 90 days, take a moment to review your board and make plans for the next 90 days.

Kanban 2019 October

Kanban at the end of the 3rd quarter

Psalm 90:12 reminds us to value our time and tend it well. “Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” I hope this helps you do just that. I’d love to hear what strategies help you honor God’s gift of time and work?

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Effective Planning Strategies: Kanban Boards
© 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayers for a New Year

huge clock

Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.

Prayer at Year’s End by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Eternal God,
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Amen.

O Mystery, remind me of my end, and how measured my days;
keep me mindful how fleeting my life is. —Psalm 39:4

Letting Go by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Before I step into the new year
I let go of the old one.
What I have done I have done.
What I have not done I have not done.
So be it. I release my regret.
I stand with myself.

For all the gifts I have received,
known and unknown, I am grateful.
However I have suffered I accept.
I learn what I can and move on.
Whatever others have done that hurt me,
I forgive. I learn and move on.
For however I have failed or fallen short,
I forgive myself. I learn and move on.

I release my fears.
I release my self-doubt, blame and self-silencing.
My hopes and dreams I place in God’s hands,
trusting what is blessed will remain with me.

I am alive, and life is good.
I open myself to the future,
enfolded in this present.
Holy Mystery, I am yours.
I am here, now.

Gratitude for a New Year by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
For the blessings of today
which remind us of the blessings of the past
which point forward to the blessings still to come
we give you thanks

Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
ONE:
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.

ALL:
To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night

ONE:
You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
We blossom
But come evening,
We are withered and dry

ALL:
Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart

Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story

Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well

Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.

penitence by larry poncho brown

Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown

Prayer of Confession for a New Year
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others

Silent Confession

As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen

A New Year’s Blessing by Steve Garnaas Holmes
My hope and prayer and confidence
is that in this new year
God will be lovingly present for you,
and you will more and more deeply trust
God’s delight in you.
Christ will lead you every step of the new year.
The Spirit’s gifts will unfold in you in new ways.
I rejoice that in this new year
beauty will surround you; grace will enfold you;
love will embrace and uphold you;
joy will bless you, and hope sustain you.
May you receive healing and wisdom;
may your creativity flower and your courage grow;
and in your hands may justice and mercy flourish.
I rejoice that these gifts await you in the new year,
and pray that you receive them with delight.
I give thanks for the gift of sharing together
the journey of this new year.
God bless us all.

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Click Here for a collection of quotes entitled Counting Our Days

Thank you to Steve Garnaas Holmes for his generosity in allowing me to share his work on my blog. Please, consider subscribing to his blog, www.unfoldinglight.net.

Gratitude for a New Year © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer of Confession for the New Year © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use these prayers in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish them in any form

Prayer- Most Blessed, Most Beautiful Christ

christus-hand-lds-adapted

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NRSV
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you, we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong
To you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving

For a worship setting, consider the following version. One voice prays the portion in regular print while the congregation prays the portion in bold print.

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ,
in you, we receive all things

The receiving takes growth, so you give us guiding-
saints and sages and scripture
Thank you for the guiding
in you, we receive all things

The receiving takes others, so you give us the world-
nature and neighbors and nations
Thank you for the world
in you, we receive all things

The receiving takes change, so you give us seasons-
life and death and new life
Thank you for the seasons
in you, we receive all things

The receiving takes time, so you give us time-
present and future and forever
Thank you for the time
in you, we receive all things

Most blessed, most beautiful Christ
You give us yourself
And in you, O Christ
We belong
To you and to God and to all
Thank you for the giving
in you, we receive all things

The congregation now offers their own prayers of thanksgiving, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer

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Most Blessed, Most Beautiful Christ © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.