Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Five: Happy Lent

Sophia invited RevGals to explore the season ...
Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with mind and heart renewed. You give us a spirit of loving reverence for you, our [Mother]/Father, and of willing service to our neighbor. As we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, you bring the image of your Son to perfection within us.... (First Preface for Lent, Roman Missal)

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday this year? Any memories of memorable celebrations past?
We did indeed. Twice! During the week it's just The Dufflepud and me at home, and he was planning to be out with friends on Tuesday so we thought we'd have our pre-Lenten binge on Monday...Many a pancake, both savoury (mushroom & spinach, with cheese - sheer bliss) and sweet, a glass or two of FairTrade chardonnay and the last of the chocolates won in a recent raffle.
BUT we made enough batter for him to take with him to pancake party the following day -which he sadly left behind, so in the spirit of "waste not want not" we had a late night pancake snack all over again on Tuesday.
Don't even mention calories!
Meanwhile, I also observed Shrove Tuesday with a wonderful reminder that God sees our aspirations as well as our failures and loves us through them...As I posted below, I  find the process of confession, the time looking hard at myself and all that lies therein extremely hard and painful work; the process of naming my sins aloud is excruciating but the response - the perspectives, the wisdom, the assurance that "Jesus gets it" and that I am loved and forgiven "those things of which my conscience is afraid" is worth every second. I know that I have the opportunity to hear and experience God's forgiveness Sunday by Sunday - but in the busyness of leading worship it's not always easy to enter deeply into consciousness of sins and thus to really let them go and rejoice in freedom. The sacrament of reconciliation allows that - with trumpets!
I always emerge wanting to sing "And Can It Be?" at the top of my voice - though given the surroundings of a Cathedral Quiet Day, I have thus far resisted!
In my experience parish pancake parties are sometimes just a bit (awful wordplay alert) flat- though I loved the pre Lenten pancake extravaganzas with the youth group in my training parish.Valley church hall is used on Tuesday evenings, so I don't feel a pressure to stage pancake parties here and am happy to keep to an in house celebration!

2. How about Ash Wednesday, past and/or present?
My first Ash Wednesday after leaving university, I was just beginning to make my home at St John the Divine, Kennington, a church whose wonders I've celebrated on the blog before. Having spent my Cambridge years batting from Kings to Johns in an attempt to hear the Allegri sung twice in one day I was more than stunned to be asked to do the high soprano solo myself...No idea how well it went (I had a nightmare cold but was given some amazing elixir just before singing that cleared my throat sufficiently to make top Cs possible) the privilege of being able to sing those notes for a faith community that I was coming to love was, I think, an early step in the journey to ordination. I love Ash Wednesday, and have blogged about it every year I've been writing here. The two trips to the altar rail, to be marked with the sign of our mortality and then fed with the food of eternity make the Ash Wednesday liturgy so very powerful always.

3. Does your denomination or congregation celebrate "this joyful season"? Any special emphases or practices to share?
Not sure it's an occasion for joy, exactly, but we do have a Lent course running! (in fact it's all about welcome, so should be pretty joyful on reflection).As we move into Passiontide there will be more opportunities for reflective worship beyond our usual diet, the school trail and a whole lot more. The Lent leaflet (which was actually produced on time) carries details of everything we'll attempt...and yes, I did abandon all sorts of other ideas...I'm really not trying to do everything. Not ALL at once!
We are, of course, bare of flowers, and the high altar at Church in the Valley is stipped to its beautiful wooden bones.It's a large church building, so it's possible that people might not actually notice these differences - there's less liturgical awareness than I'm used to - but I'd hope that the cumulative effect might speak of something!

4. Do you have a personal plan of give-ups, take-ons, special ministries, and/or a special focus for your own spiritual growth between now and Easter?
The one discipline my SpirDir suggested was a daily walk with the dogs - space, stillness & exercise all in one. I'm abstaining from all the usuals (wine, chocolate, dairy products) too if I can - not really as a spiritual practice except in so far as caring for my body is a spiritual practice, and mine has never recovered from the 2 months of grumpy inactivity and chocolate compensation produced by last year's broken arm! 
I'm working on a few minutes of worthwhile reading daily, too, but am sitting light to these add-ons.
My ongoing struggle is with personal realism, -which includes manageable Lenten goals.
So, that's dog walking, then! 

5. What is your dream for the image of Christ coming to perfection in you, the church, the world? How can we support you in prayer?
Goodness. Big question to come across suddenly in the middle of a Friday Five, and one that deserves more time than I'm able or willing to give it right now..In one way it's quite simple, summed up by dear St Richard of Chichester
"May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly day by day".
If that were only true - for the me and for the churches I serve...then we might live our baptism commission "To shine as lights in the world to the glory of God the Father".
For me to know God more clearly would mean, of course, setting aside the need to ACHIEVE for Him...To sit still and be loved...Last week at Llannerchwen I remembered that if I want to reflect the image of Christ, I need to be more like a pool of water than like a mountain stream. I could pray round that, couldn't I?

Already blogged my definitive Lenten music and won't try to improve on perfection. I'll just listen to it once again, before engaging with the day!


Sally said...

Thank you for the Ash Wenesday description, it has made up for my missing it this year :-)

RevDrKate said...

Oh my....# 5 is just nearly perfect!

Mompriest said...

beautiful play....thank you.

MumPastor said...

great play, and speaking from experience Dog Walking can be an amazing spiritual exercise. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh to be able to still hit a top c

Jan said...

Dog walking is a good discipline for Lent. I may have to try that with the new puppy.

Sophia said...

Beautiful play and I rejoice with you especially in your celebration of that wonderful sacrament Shrove Tuesday! I always get nervous, but always love it, too, and am so grateful when the opportunities are made available.

Happy dog-walking!