Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent and Ash Wednesday

Despite the symbol on the side, Lent has never been very important to me and I feel a bit guilty reading other blogs.
Last night I attended the Ash Wednesday Choral Eucharist at the cathedral here in Dunedin. I have never been to a service of the Imposition of Ashes before.

I, of course, grew up in Evangelical Sydney and while my church in those days was still recognisably Anglican and did follow the Church calendar, I do not remember attending a service on Ash Wednesday.  If I did it would have just been Holy Communion.  I am told new graduates of Moore College do not even know what Lent is these days.

Our Family did have pancakes the evening before and we did not eat meat on Ash Wednesday.  I have continued with the latter observance but have been known to forget. I remember my Mother being very embarrassed once when she quietly told a Roman Catholic neighbour that her forehead was dirty and did not realise her error until much later in the day.

Of course I saw this a lot when I began teaching in Catholic schools but I never attended myself.

St James, King Street does have an Ash Wednesday service with imposition of ashes but in the 4 years I have been worshipping there, I have never made the effort for another 4 hour train trip to attend.

Holy week is very important to me but I do not think I could keep up any observance for 40 days. I do not see much point in giving something up unless it led to some good and this year would not be a good year to begin anyway, living in a hotel and eating lots of takeaways.

I have been amused at Kirkepiscatoid giving up hot sauces.  Just looking at her cupboard has me wondering where the antacids are. Any time I dine out, I must check to avoid any hot dishes and the very word chili removes that dish from my choices. Sadly menus seem to be full of such items these days. The Finance commentator on Morning TV here in NZ has been talked into giving up chilis for 4 days (he could not manage 40).  I suppose I could give up chocolate after dinner  or sugar in my coffee but I do not see how that would help my spiritual life.

So last night was first for me and I admit I rubbed my forehead clean as soon as I left the cathedral.  It was my first visit to the cathedral since I have moved to Dunedin. I do like the more formal services and intend worshipping there occasionally but I have stayed with St John's Roslyn for the first month until Kelvin Wright leaves.
Probably I will make more friends tat St John's even if I do have to put up with children squealing during the service and following the service and hymns on an overhead projector. I will just revive by occasional visits to the cathedral or even the anglo-catholic parish in North Dunedin.  At least I have a choice of inclusive churches here, unlike in Sydney. There is one very evangelical church to the south of the city which will not be visited by me. They were vocal in their opposition to the ordination of a partnered gay man who is preaching in the cathedral next Sunday evening.


Anonymous said...

Glad to know you are now in a place where Anglicanism actually exists. Have an unhappy Lent. I'm giving up chillies for the whole 40 days. I never eat them anyway.

June Butler said...

It's interesting to learn about the differing flavors of Anglicanism around the world. Now you have choices, Brian. I have no choice in my small town, since there is only one Episcopal Church here, but I'm happy in my church, which is quite inclusive. There's another Episcopal Church in a town about 20 miles away, but the priest and the congregation are quite conservative and, I'm afraid, not very welcoming of LGTB persons.

Birdie said...

I have to admit that I do not observe the Lenten tradition of self-denial. It doesn't hold much spiritual significance to me, but that's probably because I came so late to my faith. I don't have any traditions. That said, I'm okay with it. I create new traditions as my faith matures.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Thanks for the link, Brian. I'll be the first to admit, giving up something for Lent solely for "self-denial" purposes is worthless. For me it becomes "an exploration of the spice alternatives that I would never have tried, had I knee-jerk reached for that hot sauce."

So what I try to do is, when I catch myself reaching for the hot sauce, I think, "What else in my life do I just grab onto and not think twice when there are other ways of doing it?"

So, the hot sauce becomes not the object, but the catalyst to a different spiritual plane.

P.S. I can't remember the last time I had to take an antacid. I've been told I have a Teflon GI tract. LOL