Sunday, March 06, 2011

A past winter blast & raising the dead

Nebraska looks like a big bruise on the weather map this morning and the forecast here through Wednesday is made up mostly of rain and snow, hopefully light, although the Nebraska-based winter storm watch extends out into Iowa just north of Council Bluffs. So it ain't over until it's over even though spring is moving officially toward us now at a rapid clip.

The photo here was taken on March 1, 2007, in the parking area of my work-week apartment in Mason City some three and a half hours north of here and somewhat more prone to this sort of thing. I believe it was taken to e-mail south to Chariton, hoping I'd find someone here to feel sorry for me up there. Hopefully, we'll be spared at both ends of the state this year.


This is the week the liturgical season turns to Lent, and this the last Sunday after the Epiphany. Easter comes late this year, on April 24, only one day short of the latest date it can occur. This is one of those years, as was the case last year, too (April 4), when the Western church, where moveable feast calculations are based on the Gregorian calendar, and the Eastern church, Julian calendar, celebrate on the same date.

We'll be serving a Shrove Tuesday pancake and sausage supper at St. Andrew's to benefit the Lucas County Ministry Center food pantry from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday --- y'all come, admission by free-will offering.

Ash Wednesday liturgy at 6:30 p.m. on, as you might expect, Wednesday.

I noticed yesterday while doing errands at the church that the palm fronds saved after last year's Palm Sunday and retrieved from their hiding place still were in the sacristy. They'll have to be burned before Wednesday to produce the ash, mixed with a little water, that we'll need.

The admonition that will be spoken as that rough and smeary cross of ash is applied to foreheads Wednesday is among the most universally sobering, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

It is possible during Lent to get too involved in the gory details reported, implied or imagined of an ancient and by now seemingly abstract sacrifice no one really can wrap a mind around. But to do that shifts the emphasis of Lent to death, which really isn't the point. Anyone can die --- horribly in many circumstances; and we all can kill, in various ways. It's resurrection that's the challenge.

These upcoming 40 days are intended to yank the past into the present and make it immediately relevant, to heal the sick, to clarify the path toward resurrection. The barriers to healing and new life are spelled out clearly in the words of the Book of Common Prayer's Litany of Penitence that follows imiposition of ashes:

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

Have mercy on us, Lord.
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,

We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,

Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;

Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,

That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,

Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.
In other words, repent and with grace be healed --- then raise the dead. God knows, we need a little resurrection right now.

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