Wednesday Word: Ins and Outs
Why do we do that? – Almost every visitor to an Episcopal church ever, and sometimes even Episcopalians.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Today we will have services at 12:15 and 7 pm as we begin this season of self-reflection, self-denial, prayer, fasting, and meditation. On this day we also remember both our mortality (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”) as well as our baptism (symbolized with the cross of ashes on our foreheads). Lent is 40 days, not including Sundays. There are a total of six Sundays in Lent, but because Palm Sunday has its own specialness attached to it, we are left with five regular Sundays in Lent.
I say this because Lent is a good time to pay attention. Pay attention to what you eat. Pay attention to your attitude. Pay attention to getting right with your neighbor and God. Pay attention to your spiritual discipline. Pay attention to your habits. Pay attention to the journey to the cross.
One of the ways we can pay attention is by becoming more familiar with what, how, and why we do things in our worship. So for those first five Sundays in Lent I will be presenting an Instructed Eucharist during the time normally dedicated to a sermon.
Have you ever wondered why there's a procession? Or where the Collect for Purity came from (or even what the Collect for Purity is)? Have you wondered what the purpose of passing the Peace is? Or why there's only one place the “Amen” is printed in all caps? Or why some people genuflect and/or cross themselves while others do not?
This is the time to find out.
I encourage you to make these Sundays in Lent part of your spiritual discipline as we walk through the Eucharist, step by step, to better understand what we do and why we do it. My hope is that you will come away with a deeper appreciation for how we worship God in body, mind, and soul.
The more we know about and understand our rituals and traditions, the more they become imbued with meaning and can help draw us closer and deeper into the holy mysteries we celebrate every Sunday.