How to make a palm cross

I watched a bunch of palm cross how-to videos, so you don’t have to.

My bias is to make a palm cross out of a single strip, and to have both arms, the head and of the foot of the cross folded back into the central knot. I think they look better, because they’re less flimsy and more evenly shaped crosses.

This video not only show this, but also how to strip and trim the palm.

Ash Wednesday resources

I was talking to a friend about Ash Wednesday services. They’re not my favorite — the ashes can be ostentatious, and it reflects a particular Western Christian piety that I don’t care for — but the service has become more widely observed in the last couple of generations, so I’d like to revisit three blog posts that might help those who conduct it.

The Soul of the Bible: Christmas edition

Bonus blog post, following up from earlier. So, it seems the 1908 and 1946 editions are close — there’s a preface missing the later edition — indeed, so close that the arranged version of the customary Luke 2 passage, read at Christmas shares a page number. But what’s the reading based on?

It’s Luke 2:8-20, essentially the King James version, with bits of the American Standard Version to (gently) modernize the reading. Reminds me of Linus’s discourse in the Charlie Brown special. Good stuff.

St. Mary, Mother of God, pray with us

Less a proper blog post than a thought, perhaps to amplify later.

Copy of Theotokos icon of Máriapócs
Copy of Theotokos icon of Máriapócs, (CC-BY-SA, Joejojo)

I’ve read — but forget where — that Christmas is the time when Protestants become (more) Catholic. A higher regard for the saints and the generous use of medieval images come to mind. Not just the “you and me Jesus” focus that, in its own simplified way, places the Protestant ethos.

Which, is a bit weird for Unitarian Universalists, except perhaps for a small minority of the Christians who are already looking at this religion askew. Sometimes we seem like Protestants — certainly in our forms and structures — without Jesus. Something akin to “my experience with an uncertain universe” but with Sunday meetings and urn coffee.

Christmas is one of the times that flips that. Less the art than the songs and — if you’re using scripture at all — the biblical narrative. It’s hard to talk about a birth without considering the mother, and especially so when she’s one of the world’s well-loved religious figures and objects of projection. Particularly in an era where we’re more consciously trying to hear the testimony of women.

So far, Mary’s been a safe bet as the role of Jesus’ mother. But what ought we, might we say about her — even to her — once the boy is up and walking? Something to ponder.

Blue Christmas/Longest Night rollcall

“Blue Christmas” and “Longest Night” services are related phenomena that respect the worship needs of mourners, depressed or distressed people. Or more generally, those for whom the cheer of the season brings more pain than joy.

But it’s not easy to find these services if you’re not looking for them, and some are well before Christmas.

If you know of a service (or are hosting one), feel free to note it here. Not that this will create a catalog, but perhaps will attract people to the idea and prompt them to plan for next year.

An Advent daily reader for mixed generations?

Well, after writing yesterday that I had no comment about Advent… well, a conversation at church changed that.

Do you know of a family — that is, appropriate for use by adult and school-aged children — daily manual for Advent, appropriate for Universalist Christians? Ideally, something with a Bible passage for the day, a meditation and a prayer.

For daily prayers at the Advent wreath?

Anyone have a suggestion? (Intergenerational resources aren’t my strong suit.)

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

A memento of yesterday’s dinner. Also some evidence that a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner is possible and (I hope you’ll agree) attractive.

cauliflower, sweet potato and wedges of kabocha squash, oiled and ready for the oven.
cauliflower, sweet potato and wedges of kabocha squash, oiled and ready for the oven.
cornbread cubes
cornbread cubed and ready to be made into pan dressing.

2014-11-27 13.17.25

dinner set out
(clockwise from upper left) roasted photograph, Brussels sprouts, yeast gravy, pan dressing, cranberry sauce, apple and sage vegetarian sausages

2014-11-27 14.28.52

A prayer for All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day; evn with my low blogging I couldn’t let the day pass.

I wrote about the Universalist history of All Souls day last year, here.

Eternal God, as we come of one source, so prepare us for a common future, that all souls may enjoy your gifts and grace.

Today is Universalist Memorial Day

As we lope to church, let’s recall that the Universalist General Convention commended so many years ago

that the first Sunday of October, in each year, be set apart as Memorial Sunday, for commemorating those friends who, during the year, have been taken away by death.

I think it’s place there to anticipate the great and general thanksgiving and memorial — All Souls Day — a month later. Few, if anyone observes the day (also called the Sunday of the Commemoration) today, and some of the Universalist Christians who might chose it would rather observe the ecumenical World Communion Sunday, which is also today.

This service, from the extinct Church of the Redeemer, Chelsea, Mass. — a fountainhead of liturgical innovation — offers hints for its observance, and the date makes me suspect that many of the dead remembered died in the Civil War.