Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ash Wednesday’

This evening we met at church for an Ash Wednesday service. In previous years, we have had ashing. And on one notorious occasion the Vicar managed to burn my forehead with incorrectly mixed ashes.

This year, with the need for social distancing, the Vicar, like several others, has decided to return to the older liturgy of the Church of England, and lead a service known as A Commination (The Confession of Cursed Sinners). We used a modern, shortened version, provided by Church Society. The original 1662 one is in the Book of Common Prayer.

The service is not all that popular in the Church of England. People find it quite harsh, because it reminds us of all the things that God does not like – that are under his curse. It is a painful exercise, to remind ourselves of our sinfulness and the ways in which we break God’s laws and reject his rule in our lives. But the phrase that struck me the evening, as we went through the service was towards the end of the confession:

and so make haste to help us in this world,
that we may ever live with you in the world to come,
where there will no longer be any curse

That reminder that there will ‘not longer be any curse’ is so helpful to carry out of a service of penitence and mourning for sin. The promise that we will be free of the heaviness we feel when we think of the Lord’s standards and the way we fail to keep them. To remember that

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us

As I was looking for pretty pictures to illustate this post, I came across a poem by Wordsworth. It seems that The Commination wasn’t popular even in his day. But he too realised that this service where we contemplate the darkness of our sin is needed, that we should deal with our guilt and seek pardon from the Lord. So my prayer this Lent is that I would have that fruit of peace and love and joy as I thank Jesus that there will no longer be any curse.

Ecclesiastical Sonnets – Part Iii. – Xxix – The Commination Service
Shun not this Rite, neglected, yea abhorred,
By some of unreflecting mind, as calling
Man to curse man, (thought monstrous and appalling.)
Go thou and hear the threatenings of the Lord;
Listening within his Temple see his sword
Unsheathed in wrath to strike the offender’s head,
Thy own, if sorrow for thy sin be dead,
Guilt unrepented, pardon unimplored.
Two aspects bears Truth needful for salvation;
Who knows not ‘that?’ yet would this delicate age
Look only on the Gospel’s brighter page:
Let light and dark duly our thoughts employ;
So shall the fearful words of Commination
Yield timely fruit of peace and love and joy.

William Wordsworth

Read Full Post »

So I thought I’d get ahead with my plan to blog through Lent, and get some creativity practice in before Ash Wednesday. This is despite Facebook’s determination to keep me blocked, which means that if you follow my page there, you’ll not get updates when I write something new and exciting here. In the hope of getting this controversial and dangerous blog allowed on Facebook, I continue to lobby random FB executives whose Twitter accounts I can find.

There are small signs of Spring in the parish. This morning’s venture out with Song and the Vicarage Hound was warmer than it has been for quite a while. And the varigated blues of the sky matched the colours of the flats in a pleasing fashion.

It’s been a long lockdown, this third one, and I don’t think that I have been making the best of it, although I have made some good progress on another crochet blanket and several new recipes have been attempted. If I’ve not recommended Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin books yet, do look them up now. I am a big fan of shoving stuff in a tin and then in the oven. I was going to share some recent faves but they are so distressingly middle class that I can’t quite face doing it. Great recipes though, and not all of them involve quinoa (and none of the ones I use – not a fan).

Lent begins the day after tomorrow and I have a book to read. My devotional life has not been the best with the recent lockdown-toothache combo that I’ve been navigating. So a shiny new book of prewritten prayers should be just the thing. It’s Tim Chester’s latest, An Ocean of Grace, and I’m looking forward to working through that alongside video devotions on our church YouTube channel. We kick off with a modern version of the Commination (with no ashing required) on Wednesday evening – in church and on Zoom together, hoping that the tech can be negotiated effectively.

I was thinking today about the strange Anglican naming of the three Sundays before Lent (now prosaically called Sundays before Lent). They are Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. Quinquagesima is fifty days before Easter Day, if you fudge the counting a bit (by including some extra Sundays), and then the numbering really goes to pot because you can’t even fudge it to make Sexagesima and Septuagesima count as sixty and seventy days before Easter. Church of England maths makes as much sense as the rest of what we do as a denomination, I guess.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: