This morning I got a “special offer” from Amazon:
Very strange. It isn’t Easter. This just smells off.
I checked the return address:
That does not look like any Amazon address I have ever seen. I think this is faux.
From today’s AOL News:
Ash Wednesday 2014: History, Dates, Traditions Of Lent’s First Day Of Fasting
Ash Wednesday is observed on March 5, in 2014. The Christian holy day marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day season of fasting that is considered preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter.
Lent mirrors Jesus’ own 40-day period of fasting, described in the book of Matthew. Observers have ash placed on their foreheads in the shape of the cross as the words from Genesis 3:19 are spoken: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Fasting requirements for Catholics are outlined by the Code of Canon Law, and include eating no meat on the Fridays during Lent, as well as fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (Fasting in this case refers to eating just one full meal a day.)
Many Christians will make personal vows of abstinence during Lent, which could include anything from refraining from eating candy, meat, vowing not to gossip, or being less selfish. Others will make a vow to do more for others including volunteering and working for social justice. All are expected to spend more time in prayer and reflection as Lent is considered by many to be an opportunity for spiritual transformation.
The Catholic nun Sister Joan Chittister writes:
Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not…Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now… Lent is a summons to live anew…Lent is the time to let life in again, to rebuild the worlds we’ve allowed to go sterile, to “fast and weep and mourn” for the goods we’ve foregone. If our own lives are not to die from lack of nourishment, we must sacrifice the pride or the sloth or the listlessness that blocks us from beginning again. Then, as Joel (2:12-18) promises, God will have pity on us and pour into our hearts the life we know down deep that we are lacking.
I took a wonderful photo at Easter, wonderful because I have the same exact photo at the same exact age of my son, holding up his Easter Egg exactly (or, oh pardon me, I can’t resist, eggsactly) the same way. There are just some little things that make a Grandmama’s (and Mama’s) heart sing 🙂
Because AdventureMan has worked so hard with him, little Q has been moved up to a more advanced class, and we are all excited about that. I know there are some who prefer to be the BEST in their group, but we always learn and achieve more when surrounded by people a little more accomplished and skilled than we are. We are happy he will be pushing himself to be a really GOOD swimmer!
When we pick Q up at school, all his little school friends say “Q – your BaBa is here!” LOL @ all these little kids speaking Arabic!
He is risen!
In today’s Lectionary readings, Saint John explains the coming of the light (Jesus Christ) into the world. On this day, when we celebrate that he is risen from the dead, it is a most fitting and wonderful verse to read. Below is the tomb of John-the-Baptist (Yahyah,) in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, one of my favorite cities on earth. On this wonderful day of new beginnings, I pray for the peace and prosperity of Syria and all mankind, that we might set aside all the pettiness and grubbing for small things, and look to the larger and harder issues of how to love one another.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.*
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own,* and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,* full of grace and truth. 15(John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,* who is close to the Father’s heart,* who has made him known.
Yesterday when I got home from a day-long seminar on Heirloom Feathers (a follow up to another one earlier in the week on making quilts from Heirloom linens), with Cindy Needham, well-known expert and instructor, (that’s Cindy giving us an extra demo during lunch on how to do beading embellishments while on an airplane)
I found a huge bouquet of flowers from my sister and her husband, who had been house guests this week. It’s one of those gorgeous days we have a few of in Spring, warm and sunny, not too hot, and oh, this bouquet looks like Spring. Arriving home and finding this gorgeous bouquet just made my heart laugh. Can you see the Easter Bunny? We had time to walk and talk, to laugh and share stories, and we were able to take them to Five Sisters. We hope they come back soon 🙂
We’ve had a busy week. AdventureMan is getting ready for the big Expo and garden sale in May, we expect our next set of house guests tomorrow morning, and meanwhile, we have our normal daily busy lives to follow. Tonight we meet up with friends we love, people who spend their lives doing good for others, and with whom we always have great conversations, and tomorrow, early, we pick up the house guests, get them settled in, and share an Easter banquet with them, and with our son, his wife, our sweet little grandson and her mother and her husband.
I found a wonderful new Spring salad recipe to share with you 🙂 Very easy, very good:
Spring Asparagus Salad
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. Whisk together the rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and mustard. Drizzle in the peanut oil and sesame oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify. Set aside.
2. Bring a pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus to the water and cook 3 to 5 minutes until just tender, but still mostly firm. Remove and rinse under cold water to stop from cooking any further.
3. Place the asparagus in a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over the asparagus. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.
Tomorrow is our happiest of holidays, the day that sin and death are defeated and HOPE for all mankind is welcomed joyfully into the world. Happy Easter, my friends.
While an Easter Church service can get a bit long for a toddler (“No baby church! Big church!”), learning to hunt for eggs is just pure delight. We had Easter dinner and an egg hunt and then our little Happy Toddler spent the night. He has his own room, his own bed – and he slept through the entire night! Woo HOOOO!
We have a nearby park that he just loves! Who wouldn’t? When you are two years old, and love to run, all the world is your playground!
Today is beautiful, after endless days of clouds and rain, clear, sunny, not quite so hot, yes, the pollen is flying about, but all in all, not such a bad day.
And yet, the hardest day of the year, the church year.
Our Gospel reading for today, from The Lectionary:
36 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ 37Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ 38Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
In my walk as a Christian, I am struck at how often his disciples, those who walked with Jesus, lived with Jesus, believed in Jesus and served Jesus with all their hearts – how often they misunderstood Jesus. He often had to correct their idea of what he was trying to tell them about life, about the kingdom of heaven. Peter, one of his earliest disciples, one who loves Jesus utterly, is about to deny his Lord and Master three times.
On Good Friday, we are all Peter.
The 0815 service this morning was glorious. We got there early, because those who had gone to the early-early service and had stayed on for breakfast would be leaving, and this is Easter – we needed a parking place. The front of the church was laden with flowers, so many flowers it looked like a private garden, and the flowers scented the entire church, an odor of sanctity.
Getting there early was a really good thing – just after we entered, the brass trio started serenading us, exultant music, full of joy and triumph, perfect way to start an Easter morning service. It’s a special treat, having music and the full choir at the 0815 service, but a member of the choir told me earlier that this is the only Sunday of the year that they sing at all three services. If you like music, oh, what a treat!
The church filled up quickly. I couldn’t help it, I had to look around to see if there were any Easter bonnets. I remember being a kid – a girl kid, that is. We always had hats for Easter. Being kind of a snotty kid, I was often critical of the one I got and somewhere along the line that tradition was discontinued. I guess it must have been discontinued widely, as there were only six ladies wearing hats (we couldn’t help it, we counted), but very nice hats they were. The little girls were all dressed in lovely dresses, some even with chiffon and lots of ribbons.
As we reached the offering, people behind us were criticizing the parents whose children were making noise.
“They should know better! Why don’t they just take them out, so they won’t bother the rest of us?”
“It’s SO disrespectful!”
There is child care available, but I personally love having the children in the service. Maybe it’s a little disruptive, but you know – we’ll live. And I just thank God they are there! I want them to be welcome! I want the parents not to have to leave, but to know their children – and their antics – are welcome! I miss our noisy services in Doha and in Kuwait, with the babies, the children. Even though they left, there was always a little serendipitous bedlam in the service to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.
As we left, we also sighed – we miss the gorgeous colorful displays of all the saris on the high holy days, the saffrons and fuschias and peacock blues and greens and golds.
Later this afternoon, when the Happy Baby wakes up from his nap, we’ll be having Easter Dinner. He got going too fast this morning and split his lip when he fell. I remember our son at that age, and the doctor who looked at me meaningfully and asked “does your son often have bruises?” I was so offended, but all I could do was laugh – when they start running, they fall down. Once, I was right there when he tripped – inches away from me – and fell against a sharp edged table. It all happened so fast there was nothing I could do (except take him to the emergency room for stitches).
Actually, we were at a school friend’s house in Jordan, his father owned the hospital, his driver drove us, he Dad-the-doctor put in the stitches and we were back at the party before ice-cream and cake were served.
We try to protect them. We do our best. We try to teach them how to behave at public gatherings, like parades, like church, like change-of-command ceremonies, things we are not born knowing. It takes practice. Like parenting. 🙂
Different Christian groups have varying traditions on Good Friday. In our church, Good Friday starts on the evening before, Maundy Thursday, with a stripping of the altar. In some churches, there is also a gathering where the priests of the parish wash the feet of members of the congregation, as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, as a demonstration of the humble spirit required, that we are to serve one another.
Good Friday: Origins, Observances And Fasting Rules
by Neha Prakash
Good Friday is the Christian commemoration of Jesus’ Passion story; specifically his betrayal, trial and crucifixion that are described in the Christian gospels. In the sequence of Holy Week, it follows the rituals marking the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and precedes the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Since Jewish tradition dictates that Friday begins at sundown on Thursday, the events of Good Friday traditionally begin with the betrayal of Jesus by his apostle Judas in the garden of Gethsemane. He is subsequently brought before the Sanhedrin council, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and King Herod of Galilee with the ultimate outcome being his condemnation to death by crucifixion.
The trial of Jesus and his crucifixion are described in varying detail by all four canonical Gospels, the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman writer Tacitus. While the specific events and theological implications are widely disputed, the historicity of the occasion is widely accepted.
Good Friday church services generally revolve around the reading of the Gospel accounts of the Passion story. The Catholic liturgy for Good Friday also includes the distribution of the Eucharist that was consecrated during the Mass on Maundy Thursday and special veneration of the cross by inviting individuals to approach the altar and kiss the wood of the crucifix.
Many Christians also mark Good Friday by participating in or watching processions meant to replicate the journey that Jesus took through the streets of Jerusalem while carrying his cross to the site of his crucifixion at Calvary. Two of the largest and most famous of these occasions are Rome’s Way of the Cross that leads to the Colosseum and is presided over by the Pope and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem — a procession along the traditionally marked route of Jesus that is attended by thousands of pilgrims each year.
Good Friday is also a day of strict fasting for Catholics and some other Christians. As with all the Fridays of Lent, Catholics are instructed to abstain from eating meat. As with Ash Wednesday, the fasting rules for Good Friday dictate that adherents should eat only one full meal with two smaller meals being permitted as long as no other food is consumed in the interim. The use of other meat-based products such as lard, chicken broth or dairy is not traditionally forbidden, although many individuals elect to make their Good Friday meals entirely vegetarian or vegan.
In many countries with strong Christian traditions such as those in Latin America, Good Friday is observed as a national holiday. Good Friday is not a federal holiday in the United States, but several states observe it as an official state holiday by closing government offices, courts and banks. Many private businesses also choose to close on Good Friday in addition to financial markets.
My favorite service of all, Evensong. Everything is just moving along, peacefully, penitentially, as we enter Holy Week, when all of a sudden, the choir is singing Gounod, the Jerusalem anthem from Gallia. Oh, WOW! Gounod makes me grin, and he moves me. Gounod . . . Gounod ROCKS!
And here you can here the anthem:
I was introduced to Gounod in Doha. Our priest, Ian Young, led a group called the Doha Singers, and he chose challenging music. We learned Gounod’s Mass for St. Cecelia, and the music is the kind that gets into your blood. I couldn’t get enough of it. I never get sick of it. Gounod is music with a sense of drama and a sense of humor about itself. I think it is his sense of timing, how you hold a note just a little longer than you would expect, and then rollick on to the next. I had never heard this piece before, but Gounod is so individual, so unique – it had to be Gounod.
At the end, we sang one of my very favorite hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord, is Ended:
I admit it, I am pretty tough, but these words make me weak and weepy:
The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
All in all, a lovely day. Our son joined us for the first episode of The Game of Thrones on HBO. He’s read all the books, I am on book 2, and AdventureMan is reading the first book, the one on which this series is based. Great way to begin our week. 🙂