Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Lent is the season following Epiphany and is more 'known' than Epiphany to most people. Many people think of Lent as a time to give-up something (meat, chocolate, soda drinks, smoking, etc.). But the season of LENT (liturgical color is purple) goes much deeper than 'just' giving up something.
You may have heard of Ash Wednesday (and Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday) if you've ever been to New Orleans and gone to Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) is the last day in Epiphany and is celebrated by eating fattening foods in anticipation of the 'fasting' days of Lent. In some churches, pancakes are served on Shrove Tuesday!!!! The word, Shrove, refers to the ancient practice of being 'shriven' (confessing and receiving absolution) in order to begin and keep a holy Lent. Shrove (or Fat) Tuesday this coming year is on Feb. 16.
Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) begins the next season of LENT. The Lenten season includes 40 weekdays and five Sundays before Holy Week and the culminating triumph of the Resurrection at Easter (April 4 this coming year). Lent has two major focuses. One is Baptism, which in the early church occurred only at Easter. The second focus and the most familiar to us is that of fasting and renunciation. The theme recalls Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness, and through them the discipline of self-denial reflecting the sacrifice of our will to the purpose of God.
Then comes Holy Week--when the events of our Lord's passion and death are specifically commemorated in preparation for the glorious celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week begins with the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday (March 28). A special liturgy begins with a procession of the congregation and the blessing of the palms, commemorating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Gospel reading is the complete story of the Passion. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week, services with special collects and lessons deal with the themes of suffering and coming glory. Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday). Services are held to commemorate the Last Supper. The service ends in complete silence with the stripping of the altar, in recognition of the despair and death to come.
Friday is Good Friday and commemorates the Crucifixion. The cross over the altar is draped in black. Holy Saturday was once a day of fasting in preparation for the Great Vigil of Easter. Today services are held which can include a reading of the Passion and an anthem from the Burial of the Dead.
The Great Vigil begins at darkness on the night before Easter, or very early on Easter morning as a Sunrise Service. Services are held with the lighting of candles and scripture readings... Once the sun arises, bells are rung and glorious Easter begins. EASTERTIDE (color white-although some churches go back to green after Easter Sunday) is MORE than just Easter Sunday. It is the defining event of Christianity. (NOTE: In my opinion, in order to really get the true meaning of Easter, one MUST experience Holy Week also. )
EASTERTIDE is always 49 days. On the Thursday in the 6th week of Eastertide, we have Ascension Day--when Jesus was lifted up into heaven. On that 50th day, we begin another season, PENTECOST (color red on the Day of Pentecost and green for the remaining Sundays after Pentecost). Note: Color red symbolizes tongues of flame and the Holy Spirit, and the color green symbolizes the growth and life of the church.
The day of Pentecost is a day of Christian celebration observed on the 7th Sunday after Easter. On Pentecost we remember an event that occurred to the disciples 50 days after the Passover during which Jesus was crucified and 10 days after they watched Jesus literally ascend into the clouds.
At Pentecost the Resurrection of the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the people. To the Christian, Pentecost also marks the end of one church season and the beginning of the next. Christians consider the Day of Pentecost the birthday of the church because, from that moment on, the disciples carried the message of Christ everywhere they went all over the world. At our church, everyone is asked to wear red to symbolize the tongues of flame and the Holy Spirit.
The Season after Pentecost, in which Christians develop their relationship with the risen Christ, lasts from the Day of Pentecost to the beginning of Advent. This season contains some special days (such as Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday following the Day of Pentecost; All-Saints Sunday which is the 1st Sunday in November; and Christ the King Sunday which is the Sunday before Advent). These special days can be celebrated by wearing the liturgical color white (or red on All-Saints Day). This long season has several names (Sundays after Pentecost, Sundays after Trinity, Ordinary times).
This puts us back to Advent--and we start over!!!! Hope you enjoyed these blogs about the Christian Year. I love sharing the information. If I have bored some of you, I truly apologize. All of my years in church work have given me knowledge that I may not have had otherwise. I think that learning all of this is SO interesting.
On Black Friday, instead of being in crowds and shopping (probably the least favorite thing I would choose to do-- EVER), George and I spent the entire day near Erwin, TN ----hiking and searching for new waterfalls. Pictured below is a combination picture of ALL of the Falls on Millstone Creek, the first set of waterfalls we saw that day.
Have a great Tuesday.. We've been busy decorating the house inside and out for Christmas. It's amazing how fast Thanksgiving is OVER and Advent and Christmas begin.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Yesterday started the beginning of the Christian Year. This season is called ADVENT. Since some of you may not know about our Christian Year, I decided to write a couple of blogs about it. I will begin though by saying that not every Christian denomination follows the Christian Year. In my churches all through the years (Methodist and now Episcopal), we have followed the Christian Year---and I LOVE it. This first post will talk about Advent through Epiphany.
ADVENT begins our Christian year and includes the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Each of the seasons is represented by a specific color. The color of Advent is purple. Depending upon what day December 25th falls, Advent begins toward the end of November or the beginning of December. Advent is a time of anticipation and hope---and WAITING. Many churches light candles (Advent Wreath in my header) each week in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many homes also have small Advent Wreaths signifying the season. Advent carols are sung.
Each Sunday during Advent, the candles are lit --adding one each week. The first Sunday of Advent, one of the purple candles is lit. This candle stands for HOPE. On the 2nd Sunday, two candles are lit. The second purple one stands for PEACE. On the third Sunday of Advent, the pink candle is lit. This candle stands for JOY (knowing the the birth of Christ is coming very soon). AND all four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The fourth candle stands for LOVE.
Everyone knows that Christmas is on December 25--but the season of CHRISTMASTIDE (liturgical color is white) goes from the 25th through January 5. During Christmastide, a large WHITE candle is lit signifying the birth of the Christ child. This is the 'official' Twelve Days of Christmas. This is why many Christians leave up their Christmas decorations until January 6.
EPIPHANY (using the liturgical color green) begins on January 6th. It is the time when the Wise Men visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They followed the star--so the real significance of Epiphany is 'light.' The word Epiphany itself means "showing forth." The light from the Star of Bethlehem and the light of Christ spread throughout the world during Epiphany.
Epiphany is also a time to remember Christ's baptism--and our own, together with the ways in which Christ was revealed to humankind, especially in the healing miracles. It is a time to ponder the ways in which we ourselves are called to bring Christ to the world.
The number of Sundays in the Epiphany season varies from four to nine according to the date of Easter Sunday (which is a movable date derived from the lunar calendar). This year there will be six (January 7- Feb. 16).
I will present one more post on the Christian Year.. In the meantime though, Happy ADVENT. Let's all do what we need to do to anticipate the birth of Christ, which is the REAL meaning of Christmas.
On another note, George and I had a wonderful hiking and 'waterfalling' trip... We saw at least 16 new waterfalls this past weekend. Below is one picture of the first waterfall we saw on Thanksgiving afternoon while visiting our good friend Reida. More pictures from our trip will be forthcoming.
Bays Mountain Falls (near Church Hill, TN)
Hope everyone had a great weekend ---and all of you have 'walked off' all of that big Thanksgiving feast!!!!
P.S. Be sure and read my "Thirty Days of Thanksgivings" on my sidebar --before I take it off.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Even though we still don't have many leaves on our big trees yet, and even though it was 35 degrees on Wednesday morning this week, SPRING is HERE on the Cumberland Plateau. I showed pictures of some of our early bloomers (Crocus, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Forsythia, Pansies, and some of our Tulips) in previous blog posts. Today I'll show you pictures of our Redbud trees (we have two), more of our Tulips, and our Pink Dogwood. Hope you enjoy these pictures. Click on them to make them larger. Above is some of the branches of our gorgeous Pink Dogwood in our front yard. Below are more.
One of our two Redbud trees; The other one was featured in an earlier blog post.
The Redbud blossoms---up close and personal!!!! Nice, huh?
This is Peppermint Stick Tulip. This is a small tulip---and I almost wanted to lick it --like I would a lollipop. Yum!!!!
Peppermint Stick Tulip is opening up!!!!! Pretty, don't you think?
You would never guess---but this is Peppermind Stick Tulip opened totally up.. Isn't this a beautiful and unique tulip????? (Compare this picture with the two above!)
I love White Dogwoods----but there's something special about the Pink Dogwoods. I love ours!!!!!
Another picture of a close-up of our Pink Dogwood blooms
Here is a final picture of our Pink Dogwood. There is a legend, that at the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross on which Jesus was nailed.
After that time, the Dogwood never grew large enough to be used as a cross. It became slender and bent and twisted, and its blossoms were in the form of a cross. There were two long and two short petals, and in the center of the outer edge of each petal were nail prints. In the center of the flower was a crown of thorns. All who see this blossom will remember what Jesus Christ endured --just for US. Take another look at the above picture. God Bless ALL of You.