Friday, February 23, 2007

Thoughts at the Start of Lent

Some thoughts at the beginning of Lent. I do not think they are connected to one another, but of course I could be mistaken about that. And it doesn't matter if they are or they are not.
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One of my readers asked me to post pictures of my liturgical wall hangings as they change. This one went up on Wednesday but I didn't have the opportunity to photograph it until today. The background is actually the wrong side of a piece of too-bright purple fabric that I had. The black of the cross is Moda marble. Everything is hand buttonhole stitched.
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Our new Interim Pastor started working at our congregation on Tuesday. Her first services were on Ash Wednesday and I was fortunate to be assigned as Assisting Minister for the evening service. I liked her very much: She seems bright, sincere, easy to be around, and not self important. She will be with us for 12-18 months, helping our church do a self evaluation and assessment and figure out our goals and also determine what we will be looking for in our next pastor. From my first impression, I believe this woman will be very helpful.
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For starters, her Ash Wednesday sermon made reference to the positive side of Lent. She spoke about the way Lent has been regarded as a time for deprivation, for giving things up, for sacrifice. She then used the Isaiah reading, which reads in part,

Is this really the kind of fasting that I want? Do I want a day when people merely humble themselves, bowing their heads like a reed and stretching out on sackcloth and ashes? Is this really what you call a fast, a day that is pleasing to the Lord? No, this is the kind of fast I want. I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke to set free the oppressed, and the break every burdensome yoke. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, opressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don't turn your back on your own flesh and blood!

The idea of taking something on as opposed to giving something up, to be active rather than passive was the emphasis of this part of her sermon. I have always been partial to this passage, and was glad to hear her preach on it.
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Finally, in this morning's paper there was an article about the stress people experience when it is their task to go through and clear out the personal effects of loved ones after their deaths. There was a bit about a Quaker woman who was helping a Roman Catholic friend with such a culling. She came across a bottle of holy water and thought she would use it to water the plants. The other woman said that she couldn't do that; it wasn't an appropriate use for holy water.
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In my church, we are taught that after Communion, any left over elements must be dealt with immediately. In the case of wine, we are to drink it or to pour it into the ground. In the case of bread, we are to eat it, or scatter it outside for the birds. To me using holy water (and I'm not totally sure what holy water is, actually) to water plants makes good sense, and I wonder what other -- better? -- use there could be for it? Please understand that I am not mocking another set of beliefs; rather, I'm just trying to understand them.

2 comments:

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I always understood that holy water (or anything else... wine, bread, etc.) was what had been 'blessed'. I, too, can't think of any better boost for the plants of this earth than holy, blessed water; I am not being flippant.

Leslie said...

"Christ in us, the hope of glory."

Thank you for your honesty, thoughtfulness, creativity, sharing.

I'd be interested in reading the article on culling out a deceased loved one's belongings. Do you still have the article?

Leslie