Not Wallaby and Wattle Baked Risotto

Ingredients with chicken and vegetables for cooking risotto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cup sushi rice (okay to substitute Arborio or other); uncooked
  • 4½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • OPT: chicken and pumpkin shown; substitutions discussed
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F in American). Place the rice and stock in a oven-safe covered casserole dish.
  2. Siôn’s variation: half a butternut pumpkin cubed, 3 poached chicken thighs
  3. Substitutions: hard vegetables can go in with rice, and stock. Chicken and other soft parts get stirred in with the parmesan.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then check every five minutes, or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente. 
  5. Stir through the parmesan, butter, salt and pepper and serve immediately.
  6. Serves 4

Godsmacked

To be Godsmacked is to be left speechless by the Almighty. Like its secular sibling, ‘gobsmacked’, Godsmacked implies an unexpected event. In the book of Acts in the bible Paul is Godsmacked on the road to Damascus; Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration could justifiably be called Godsmacked, that of course is not to mention how Joseph, Mary and the shepherds felt at various points in the Christmas story.

The action of being Godsmacked is not limited to the New Testament there are many examples in the Old Testament as well; Goliath – literally Godsmacked, Nebuchadnezzar on seeing Shadrack and his friends in the fiery furnace – Godsmacked, talking donkeys, heavenly ladders, large floods and burning bushes – all Godsmacking.

These are just a few of the many examples of scriptural Godsmacking. There are of course many other stories of people being Godsmacked – some dramatically like Martin Luther, others are Godsmacked more slowly like C.S. Lewis. However it happens being Godsmacked is not something you can ignore nor can you miss it.

Most Christians I have talked to have had a Godsmacking experience, for some it is a one off, never forgotten event for others God smacks them time and time again. There is no right and wrong when it comes to being Godsmacked – as there are millions of, as Larry Norman termed us, ‘Jesus freaks’ so there are millions of ways of being Godsmacked…

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Winds and waves.  

My first recollection of being truly Godsmacked was sitting, in my college room  in Aberystwyth, gazing out of the window one dark and stormy night in November many years ago, but before we stare out of that window here’s a brief history of how I got there.

I am one of those Christians who cannot put a definite time on my conversion – having been taken to church at the tender age of 6 months (it would have been earlier but I was incubated for about 5 months, I hope it didn’t involve a large hen sitting on me but it might have done, I don’t really remember and in all the photos I’m obscured by feathers ). I cannot remember a time when God was not a normal part of my life. Understanding grew as I got older, I asked questions and made decisions about God and Jesus and miracles and church etc and my faith grew. I cannot say there was a definite moment of conversion, over time my prayers became more fervent and my conviction that I needed Jesus far more than he needed me became more acute. I moved from a church going child to a church going youth and then to a calling myself a Christian for I found  that I was following Jesus and was getting to know him as I read and prayed more and more.

Before you get the idea that the author was and is a boring God botherer it should be noted that on this slide towards Christ there were many high points – parties, lots of drinks, fast driving, accidents, loud bands, late nights and early mornings, fights, long hair, friends, mistakes, more parties, more drinks, road trips, weekend concerts, leather jackets, dinner jackets, flack jackets and lots of fun. The wonderful thing is most of them still happen, it just now Jesus comes with me. I’m not sure if the Son of God enjoys heavy metal concerts but he’s been to a few and I’ve never heard him complain (it is true I can’t hear much for days after a concert but I figure Jesus made the blind see so if he didn’t want to go AC/DC again I’m sure I’d get the message).

So after many adventures, a brush or two with very nice policemen, taking some orders from some very scary men in uniforms  and a bit of traveling I ended up being accepted into the hallowed halls of academia or at least the bleach smelling halls of The United Theological College, Aberystwyth. I was there to study theology, but in reality I played lots of sport, drank loads of whiskey and did just enough work to scrape through my degree.

And so you find me at my desk one night in November, starring out of the window, trying to write an easy on the use of duct tape in Sunday School or some such interesting topic. Looking for distractions from this engaging topic proved easy – my window faced west, over Cardigan Bay and the ever changing vista of the sea was a constant draw for my duct tape weary eyes. This night was special however.

Many times I had sat in that self same seat and watched as storms came in over the sea. The lightning was always spectacular as was the effect the wind had on the waves but that  night was different. It was differenter from any other night I had witnessed there – I was about to be well and truly, completely and utterly Godsmacked.

Looking out I could see the storm building in the north and driving huge clouds ahead of it over the hill. It was black and bleak and brilliant. I always looked the other way (south) towards the harbour to see if all the boats were safely moored and as I did I saw the reflection of the storm in the window. That couldn’t be right, it wasn’t the reflection it was another storm been driven up from the south on a collision course with its northern brother.

In awe, and I use those words as they are truly meant, I watched as the winds grew stronger and the waves grew higher, as the lightning lit up the sky and the thunder deafened the town. But the best was yet to come, all the lights of Aberystwyth went out in a sudden flash and then night became day as the two storms met in the middle of the bay and literally tore each other apart.

The sight was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I watch the Discovery Channel A LOT. I could see everything from horizon to horizon. The lightning wasn’t coming in flashes but was a constant burn in the night sky. The noise was horrendous as peel after peel of thunder echoed again and again and again. The rain lashed, the winds howled, the sea vented its fury against the land. Rocks were hurled 100s of feet into the air and flew just as far inland, windows were smashed, cars wrecked and some were even dragged by the fingers of the waves back into the watery depths to be driven by Davy Jones on the way to his locker. I learned later that no one had been seriously hurt but the damage bill ran into the 100’s of thousands of pounds.

It was In the middle of this natural pyrotechnical display that I was Godsmacked – it came over me like one of the claps of thunder and lit up my mind like one of the flashes of lightning, a couple of  verses of scripture, I didn’t (and still don’t remember the reference, without looking it up) but I clearly heard the voice of my old Sunday School teacher saying, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” (It’s actually Luke 8 v 24 & 25, but I had to look that up.)

Watching those storms hit the Bay and seeing the power they unleashed and then remembering that even the winds and the waves obey him, Godsmacked me. I was utterly speechless before the power of nature and the even more awesome power of God. I had found, or maybe re-found, the faith the disciples were rebuked for not having. If he can control all that fury he is worthy of the title THE ALMIGHTY, no arguments from me!


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