Tags: church

tj plotting

eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani

I've just come home from the Maundy Thursday service, the first one I've ever attended. I think the lesson to bring from it is don't go to the Maundy Thursday service unless you're also going to make the Good Friday and Easter Sunday ones - it's like having the cable modem go on the fritz at the very most depressing part of the fic.

I'd never seen the altar stripped before. I'd never seen the altar *bare* before. Sitting in the nearly-empty sanctuary, intoning the 22nd Psalm in unison to a just-stripped altar, and then walking out in utter silence to a frosty wind ...

yeah, that was something.

(Of course, I didn't actually get to go out in silent contemplation of the words of Christ, because Mom had volunteered to count the money, so instead I sat in the office and re-read John 13. Bonus points to anyone who gets why I said I felt like Judas Iscariot.)

You see, you may have heard of Christmas and Easter Christians, people who only come to church on those two days? My family's the opposite. We'll go to church every other day, but on those two days we're far too busy with pagan fertility rituals to go to church. So I have never actually been to a service when the altar was bare before. Never been to a Good Friday or Easter Day service either. And won't be going this year on Sunday, either, because we'll be playing with painted eggs and candy bunnies at my grandfather's house, as usual.

I kind of want to go to the Good Friday service tomorrow night after we pick up Katy, though, now that I know what I've been missing. Plus the program tonight said that tomorrow would be a tenebrae service, which sounds really, really awesome (in the old sense) ( and also fairly short).

PS: Darcy is in The Box. She won't let Bingley in The Box with her. So Bingley has dragged out the Peacock Feather, which Darcy can't resist, and is waving it around to lure Darcy out of The Box so that she can take possession. Cats are scary.
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    and abounding in steadfast love...
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tj plotting

Another Sunday meditation

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Went to Bed with No Clothes On.

...I learned that jingle at some point in my childhood, and I know there was more to it. The internet knows of that rhyme (and cites it back to WWII) so I'm not just making it up, but the only version the internet has can *not* be the version I knew, because it has dirty words, and not only that, dirty words that only rhyme if you're British. Now it's going to keep being stuck in my head until or unless I figure it out.

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", of course, is a very common element in English prayers, charms, and spells. There's the well-known "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, / bless the bed that I lie on. / Four corners to my bed, / four angels round my head," which is pretty clearly what the nekkid time version is based on. A quick google also gives me the list of four evangelists in part of an old American blessing to be said over firearms (which something tells me the Winchesters would know well!); an anti-witcchcraft charm against hailstorms; a fertility charm for the land; protection in a lawsuit; and a charm to cure cramp. (Plus several that are hidden under $#%*& academic lock. What, exactly, is the point of that again? Keeping people from learning? I guess I must have really graduated, too, because the library's removed my JSTOR access. I need that access! I can't *survive* without that access! It's entirely possible that one of the reasons I tried to not graduate is that I couldn't stand the thought of losing my university library card! God's ankles, now I'm depressed.)

I could probably find as many again if I took a quick look through my library of paper books on the subject. But the best-known of them all is the "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John" bed-time rhyme, sometimes called the Black Paternoster and more often the White Paternoster, though it has very little in common with the French-style White Paternosters that show up in Les Mis and The Canterbury Tales. In Popular Nursery Rhymes Jenifer Mulherin says the British version may date back to Celtic rituals, but I'm more apt to be reminded (by the four angels 'round the bed) of Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, the three angels tasked to protect Jewish children against the spite of Lilith.

Some people source the prayer to the 17th century, where it was apparently first put in print by Dr. Thomas Ady in 1656. (Ady is better known as the writer of influential books attempting to insert some rationality into the witchcraft panic.) Margaret Murray, in The God of the Witches (who, granted, must always be taken with several grains of salt) gives a White Paternoster from a mid-17th century witch trial which is much more similar to Chaucer's version, and then she gives a Black Paternoster, implied to be from the same source, which is a four-corners charm clearly similar to the modern Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but uses Latin forms of the names and is an adult's house-blessing rather than a bed-blessing ("God be into this house, and all that belangs us" to rhyme with Joannes.) If Murray can be trusted, then, the charm already existed in two very different version by the 1650s or so.

And "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", in modern versions, is often intermixed with the other famous nursery prayer, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep". A whole bunch of versions of both these prayers are listed at Bedtime Prayers, along with a bunch of more twee childrens' prayers with all references to death, of course, ruthlessly bowdlerized. It seems to be a younger prayer - the first references look to be from the 18th century in "A New England Primer". There seems to be a persistent delusion on the 'net that it was printed in the 12th century in the Enchiridion of Pope Leo. The Enchiridion of Pope Leo is a *highly* dubious document, which in the tradition of late-Renaissance magickal publications, claims a pedigree older than it deserves. Given how demonstrably innacurate all the citations to it are, I'm not going to lay bets whether the prayer's actually in the book (the references seem to all have propagated from the wikipedia entry on Christian Child's Prayer (which is just *bad* beyond my ability to fix it, though I tried), detectable through use of a version of the book's name that seems to be *very* uncommon in English.) Although from Waite's description in Book of Ceremonial Magic, it seems reasonable that somebody, at some point, might have inserted some version of that prayer in some copy of the grimiore. I did find what seems to be an online Spanish translation of the book, which may or may not be complete, but doesn't seem to have anything resembling that prayer to the limit of my knowledge of Spanish.

Of course, it also shows up in Metallica's Enter Sandman.
(In other news, "Supernatural" continues to rock.)


Mind, none of that exactly solves the question of what the Evangelists did in bed with no clothes on. But hey! It may still be stuck in my head, but at least by now it's probably stuck in yours, too.
tj plotting

Your meditation for the second Sunday after Epiphany

Today's New Testament Reading was Collapse )

Is it me, or did the Apostle Paul just say that all preachers are dicks?

No, it's just you.
Yes, yes he did.
...I suppose you could see it that way. And now I can't *stop* seeing it that way. Whyy??
You have a diseased mind.
....maybe you should try a different translation.
...Paul hasn't quite figured out the difference between "humility" and "virility" yet, has he.
Oh, *that's* what they mean by "members" of the church!

Actually, last week's reading was the first part of that chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which is one of my favorite bits of the Epistles, because it can be read to justify the practice of magic and all sorts of other non-traditional spiritualities, as long as you do them in faith in Christ.

In other news, SNOOOOOW!!!!!
tj plotting

your Epiphany meditation

Poll #902312 We had a substitute pastor today, and he brought up some interesting theological questions.

If John the Baptist were alive today, would he have a cell phone?

No, dude. A cell phone? He was homeless. And he ate bugs.*
Fo' shizzle! Yahya tha Bippy had a posse, yo!**
Are you kidding? He'd have his own basic cable show.***
Queen Herry kept giving him one (with her number already programmed, natch) but whenever she asked why he never called, he said he accidentally dropped it in the river and it shorted out. Which is why she got in a snit and had him killed. Obviously.****

*Yes, yes, I know, the locusts were probably actually the fruits of the carob tree, not the swarmy crawly things with eyes. But the honey was probably actually honeydew, which is even closer to being bug pee than *normal* honey, so it evens out.

**I have been giving the people in my Sunday School coloring pictures brown skin for a long time now.***** One of the kids called me on it today for the first time, and said Jesus and Mary were white, and when I asked him why, he said, well, for one thing, they always are in every picture he'd ever seen of them. I hope I managed to both teach him a little about the limits of race and teach him to think twice about things that are just "always" without, you know, confusing him even further. (At least he wasn't bored!)
Besides, we don't have any peach markers left.

***Actually, hasn't he been on the Report yet? Stephen should totally invite him if he hasn't.

****Well, it's a better explanation than the one in Matthew, anyway! And I've read some interesting Biblical analyses which point out that Christ, and the early Church, and probably John too, were bankrolled largely by wealthy widows.

*****I also colored my Temple all bright and stripy today. I'm on a one-woman mission to remind people that all those old ruins used to be painted! Pretty colors! Because they were. And then maybe it'll catch on and when I do my house all frescoes and murals the neighbors won't complain.
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    The children will listen
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tj plotting

Very Truly I Tell You

In honor of Holy Trinity Sunday, another excerpt from the book of Wicked Words, under 'wench':
Athanasian wench, "a forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her" (Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1769).... the reference being to the first words of the Athanasian Creed, quincunque vult (whoever desires).
See, this is why I love being a Christian. :D

In the sermon today (which I actually stayed awake for, since I don't have to get up early for Sunday School any more) the Pastor was talking about politicians and pastors who claim they have a special knowledge of the Word of God, and how unwise (and unChristian) it is to listen to them without first engaging your own knowledge of Scripture and of the Holy Spirit. And how Martin Luther liked say that such people, who claimed to hear God speak to them, really probably had only been listening to bees trapped in their bonnets.

... the next time somebody gets evangelistic with me about Our Only President, I'm going to say 'he's just got a bee in his bonnet' and change the subject to the Peasants' Revolt.

Also: Happy day at church! My little Sunday School kid's dad is home from Iraq after nearly a year away! We had cake and decorations and (courtesy of Mom's hoarding tendencies) flag pins for everybody to wear! Hooray! (Of course, one of his brothers wasn't there to welcome him home, because his unit left Friday morning. They're trying to arrange for him to get to visit for a day or so first, but the standard procedure for that is for his brother's unit to call his unit and ask, but his brother hasn't *got* a unit any more, because the *five* of them that were left at the end of the deployment ended up attached to a Kentucky unit, that can't do that sort of thing for the Maryland guard, so they're all like chickens without heads at the moment.... I think the brother who decided to spend his weekends at M:tG tournaments instead of National Guard training is not at all regretting the choice.)

Oh, and completely unrelated: to a certain five of you who answered my poll: the penalty box in soccer is the marked area of the field near the goal where a foul results in a penalty kick rather than a free kick. So there!
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    holy, holy, holy
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tj plotting

Thus ends the reading

Today was my very favorite holiday ever - Palm Sunday! We have a parade and a play in church!

Actually, today in church, for the first time ever, I was one of the helpers in the service. (I say 'I was' rather than 'I signed up to be', because Mom signed me up and then didn't tell me 'till a week later.) So, yay! I got to be lay reader, and I got to hand out the wine to people and say "The blood of Christ, given for you" about two dozen times, and be part of a miracle. I'd never helped with communion before - back in the day when I was an acolyte, I always refused to do it on Communion Sundays, because not only was I not communing yet, I wasn't even baptized (and nobody at church ever remembered that I wasn't baptized, so when it came up in conversation - awkward!)

Anyway, I experienced another miracle after church, too, a miracle like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, when I sat down at coffee hour and started making my Easter basket out of my processional palms. I started out with nine small palms. I was going to make a square basket, 3x3 on the bottom and then three rows around the sides, but somehowe it ended up being 5x5x5 instead, and then I made eight or nine crosses to put in it. And when I had finished I looked over at my pile of palms and somehow, I still had six left. The pile just never got smaller!

Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, man. Seek and ye shall find.

Actually, making a basket like that is an act of faith on its own - for the first three-quarters of the work, I have what looks a huge tangle of cracked and bent leaves that will never, ever resemble anything and really I ought to just chuck it and give up; but keep going, and suddenly - snap - it transforms into a cute (if somewhat stringy and lopsided) little green-and-yellow basket that's a lot stronger than it looks. (And will last forever once it dries - this one's at least three or four years old and still up to carrying eggs in.) I make a basket once a year on Palm Sunday (when I have the materials and have the time) just so I don't lose the skill - basketweaving is *brilliant*. Someday I'm going to get around to teaching myself how to make a pine-needle basket like the natives around here did, or sweetgrass like the prairie-dwellers in Mom's part of the country, or how to cut and soak and split the invasive bamboo that's taking over our scrublands. But gathering and learning how to work the materials is the *hard* part, alas. (Plus, do I have space for lots of pretty-but-too-lopsided-to-sell baskets? No, I have no space at all.)
tj plotting

When shall we three meet again?

I just got back from the first meeting of our church's 50th anniversary commemoration committee.

Is there something wrong with me that I actually had fun? Really. It was fun.

And I'm glad I went, as one of the youngest active members, so there'll be somebody who remembers this stuff in another 50 years. 'Cause they aren't going to put the best stuff in the official records. For example, I learned tonight that one of our pastors - the one who was there before the one who married my parents - quit because the secretary and president of the church council got married. Unfortunately, at the time they were *elected* to council, they'd both been married to *other* people. And nobody, including the pastor, noticed what was going on until the divorce papers were filed. "Well, he always drove her home after council meetings," says Ms. G----. "We just didn't figure out *why* until later."

Dude, that's way more interesting than who was the first Sunday School superintendant and who designed the communion service.

Anyway, other than that, stuff has been happening. Much of it involved evil cackling and conspiracy between my sister and me. Unfortunately, it also involved me not getting any homework done yet this weekend, so I don't have time to blog about it. Maybe someday. Maybe she'll blog about it and I can just link - that would be nice.
lily, dionaea

here i am

Today being the day that my church celebrates the Feast of St. Pancake, I came home from school (a lovely day filled with midterms and quizzes) and headed right to church, after stopping to put on my dancin' shoes and some of my grandmother's jewelery.

I ended up getting there very late, but that was okay, because we had Game Night right after, and I had great fun, but four hours straight might have been a bit much. So I ate pancakes, and played blocks and Candyland and puzzles with my little Sunday school kids and their families. (They also brought Hungry Hungry Hippos, but I didn't get a chance to play. Man is that game loud! The little one loves it, so his mother is trying to get him to agree to send it to Daddy in Iraq, so that Daddy and his friends in the National Guard can play instead. :D I hope she convinces him, I just love the image it brings up.)

Then it was bedtime for the little ones, so I played my first game of chess in *years* (and lost), and then us few remaining 'youth' (aka under-30s) pulled out the set of Quiddler cards we gave Mom for Christmas. That game, however, quickly degenerated into 'find a word in the dictionary that melannen doesn't know', which quickly degenerated, of course, into 'find the dirty words in the dictionary'. (What? It was fascinating, especially since the dictionary didn't *have* any dirty words - the entry under 'sex' didn't even *mention* the act of intercourse. And the book was only thirty years old, too.)

For Lent, I have decided to give up reading lj and fanfic during my classes. I plan to put a daily update on my lj as to how well I'm keeping it up, too. (I know, I know - baby steps, okay?)

ETA: MY GOD! Alan is *canonically* in love with Denny; I'm starting to actually suspect that they're planning to take this beyond (really, really freaking heavy) subtext. Which is just *wrong*, because it's old, fat William Shatner. And Daniel Jackson.
tj plotting

nothin' don't mean nothin'

There was a breakdown on the MARC line this morning, so the train was extremely crowded: I ended up standing in the aisle, next to a guy in a skullcap who was reading a large book that had parallel Hebrew/English text. (Probably Talmud? It was talking about Pesach guidelines, which makes sense, since tomorrow is the day we Protestant Christians celebrate the Feast of the Holy Pancake.) Anyway, I glance over at the English text to see what book it is, and what it *said* was something like "the meat of lamb must be completely roasted", but what I *read* was "My god, you guys are completely toasted," which immediately sent my mind running to kenosis_kalon's favorite story in the Torah, the one where the Lord smites the sons of Aaron for toking in the Tabernacle. Man, I love Judeao-Christian tradition.

(Which reminds me, some day I need to get copies of the recipes they use at church to make the Holy Pancakes. I've been helping to cook and eat them since I was about three, and they are the best pancakes ever, even the banana ones.)

Yesterday in church the lesson was the Transfiguration of Christ, so I spent most of the service thinking about Ascension and the Stargate mythos, of course. But the stellar moment was when Pastor intoned Peter's line "YOU are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God," and one of my little Sunday School kids, in the pew behind us, shouted out, "No I'm not!" (Yes, we know, princess. At least, I hope the Messiah will be less given to temper tantrums. Then again, you never know.)