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Lent 2006 - An Exploration of Religious Symbols

This selection of themes, texts, and litany is gathered for the purpose of revisiting the symbols of the Christian faith in the context of a post-modern and multicultural world. Water, bread, cup, word, cross are explored, with ashes, palms and lilies framing the season.


(We will share the litany in as a growing prayer, adding a new verse/symbol each week.)

we bring what we have
symbols worn and rich

water to cleanse
water to nourish

rain washes fresh,
parched soil softens

bread to participate
bread to sustain

kneaded into one dough,
community enfolds individual

cup to recall
cup to anticipate

remembering interwoven roots,
future beckons brightly

word to challenge
word to comfort

opening the window,
warm balmy breeze

cross to confound
cross to connect

acknowledging the anamoly,
rediscovering the familiar

palm to welcome
palm to foreshadow

welcoming the hero,
heralding the revolution

we offer what is rich and worn
awaiting the promise of new life

Themes and Texts

Lent 1
water to cleanse, water to nourish

2 Kings 5:1-14 an John 4

Lent 2
bread to participate, bread to sustain

1 Kings 17:8-16
Didache - Chapter 9
Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever.. And concerning the broken bread: We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.. But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

Lent 3
cup to recall, cup to anticipate

Legends of the Jews, Vol 2, VII, 96.

There was once a pious and rich man with a beautiful and saintly daughter. She had had the misfortune of losing three husbands in succession, each on the day after the wedding. These sorrows determined her never again to enter into the marriage state. A cousin of hers, the nephew of her father, induced by the poverty of his parents, journeyed from his distant home to apply for help to his rich uncle. Scarcely had he laid eyes upon his lovely cousin when he fell victim to her charms. In vain her father sought to dissuade his nephew from marrying his daughter. But the fate of his predecessors did not affright him, and the wedding took place. While he was standing under the wedding canopy, Elijah came to him in the guise of an old man, and said: "My son, I want to give thee a piece of advice. While thou are seated at the wedding dinner, thou wilt be approached by a ragged, dirty beggar, with hair like nails. As soon as thou catchest sight of him, hasten to seat him beside thee, set food and drink before him, and be ready to grant whatever he may ask of thee. Do as I say, and thou wilt be protected against harm. Now I shall leave thee and go my way." At the wedding feast, a stranger as described by Elijah appeared, and the bridegroom did according to Elijah's counsel. After the wedding the stranger revealed his identity, introducing himself as the messenger of the Lord sent to take the young husband's life. The supplications of the bridegroom failed to move him; he refused to grant a single day's respite. All he yielded was permission to the young husband to bid farewell to his newly-wed wife. When the bride saw that what she had feared was coming to pass, she repaired to the Angel of Death and argued with him: "The Torah distinctly exempts the newly-wed from all duties for a whole year. If thou deprivest my husband of life, thou wilt give the lie to the Torah." Thereupon God commanded the Angel of Death to desist, and, when the relatives of the bride came to prepare the grave of the groom, they found him well and unharmed. (96)

John 2:1-12

Lent 4
word to challenge, word to comfort

Nehemiah 8:1-10, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Matthew 5:17-19

Lent 5
cross to confound, cross to connect

Black Elk (1863-1950) Oglala Sioux holy man
"See, I fill this sacred pipe with the bark of the red willow; but before we smoke it, you must see how it is made and what it means. These four ribbons hanging here on the stem are the four quarters of the universe. The black one is for the west where the thunder beings live to send us rain; the white one for the north, whence comes the great white cleansing wind; the red one for the east, whence springs the light and where the morning star lives to give men wisdom; the yellow for the south, whence come the summer and the power to grow. But these four spirits are only one Spirit after all, and this eagle feather here is for that One, which is like a father, and also it is for the thoughts of men that should rise high as eagles do."

1 Corinthians 1

Palm Sunday
palm to welcome, palm to foreshadow

1 Maccabees 13:49-52 and Mark 11:1-11

lily to celebrate, lily to celebrate

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