31 March 2011

Joseph, Patriarch (March 31)

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.  For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.    Gen. 45:1-8

Modern Icon

Joseph's Coat. Ford Madox Brown, c. 1860
Joseph Being Sold into Slavery
Károly Ferenczy, 1900
Jacob Receiving the Tunic of Joseph
Diego Velazquez, c. 1630

Today I will just read Joseph's story out of Genesis; my kids are already familiar with it from Sunday School and story books.
After reading the story, they will study the paintings and they will decide which part of the story the artist depicted.  One idea I have for commemorations of saints associated with a definite and familiar narrative (Moses, Jonah, Elijah, Noah), is to print out a bunch of paintings with different scenes from their stories (maybe mounting them on card stock so you can reuse them each year), and have early elementary kids put them in chronological order (after reading the story).  I won't do that this year, but maybe in a year or two.

Since my kids are familiar with Joseph, I decided to try a little Luther commentary on them (not word-for-word, but paraphrase).   I will try out a "game": how is Joseph a lot like Jesus?  So after reading the following commentary (from Chapters 45 - 50, Luther, Martin; "Luther's Works", Vol. 8) to get myself in the right mindset, I came up with a list (and found some more comparisons online):

On Joseph's sufferings: "Therefore we [Christians] must be troubled and humbled, if not by bloodshed and imprisonment, as the saintly martyrs suffered, at least through spiritual trials, sorrow, grief, and anguish of heart. Otherwise we shall perish in our sins. For the flesh is corrupt, filled with poison, leprous, and has need of a physician to counteract that rottenness by means of cross, martyrdom, sadness, confusion, and disgrace. These, you see, are the medicines with which God purges away sin.

Holy Scripture is full of such examples. They show that the saints must endure. For when they are not subjected to trials, they forget their spiritual exercises. Then they pray, believe, and praise rather lazily. On the other hand, they cry out, groan, and complain when misfortunes come, and thus they are disciplined and instructed in the Word, as Isaiah says (Is. 28:19): 'Vexation gives understanding.'"

Joseph as a type of Christ: "Accordingly, I give this warning in order that we may not look at this manifestation of Joseph only in passing but may consider the great affection of the heart by which both Joseph and his brothers were benumbed. I would not know how I should have reacted when he said: 'I am Joseph.' Nor do they know. What will happen, then, when our Lord and Savior JESUS Christ comes, who also disciplines us in various ways in this life and allows us to be troubled, scourged, killed, etc.? What great joy there will be after that sudden and unexpected change, since we previously felt that He was a very harsh tyrant who wanted to destroy everyone in a trice! Then He will say: "I am Joseph; I am your Savior." I cannot explain this revelation of Joseph worthily; but it must be read and pondered often, . . ."

On the Secular Kingdom and those against the Church:
"Thus today the emperor, the pope, and the Mohammedans live and remain in this world for no other reason than for the sake of the church, the Word, and the sacraments. When these have been removed, they will perish at once, as Daniel 12:7 testifies: 'When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished.' But in the meantime states [governments] and the procreation and education of children remain, because the number of the elect has not yet been completed. Many of these have not yet been born. But when the number is completed, then let the pope and the Turk see what will become of them!

The church alone, however, preserves all things and is a nursery in the world by which the Word and the sacraments are propagated and retained. Proselytes are added to it every day. They hear and embrace the heavenly doctrine. In the meantime the pope, the emperor, and the Turk also rage against us and fight against the pillars that support and preserve them."

Luther on godly public servants: "Therefore Pharaoh did not receive a private individual, a man whose only concern was domestic or political. No, he received the church of God itself, which he cherishes, nourishes, and defends. This is an outstanding honor and regal dignity. Because of this he was deservedly called a most saintly and godly man, a man honored by God; for he was raised up by God for such an important function in order that he might preserve the church and give it a place, time, and protection, so that it could be gathered, multiplied, and built."

"Would that today, too, we had more princes like him! For this was an excellent and incomparable virtue in King Pharaoh-a virtue which deserves to be praised by all. And that he was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit is apparent from the fact that he supports the church with such great kindness and without recompense or any greed. For at the present time you could find many who profess the doctrine of the Gospel until they have plundered the parishes, the associations, and the monasteries. There are very few who befriend the teachers and pastors of the churches out of zeal for godliness and from the heart. But if there are such men, they do the right thing by following the example of Pharaoh; but it surely was scrupulous, saintly, and Christian to the highest degree. For Pharaoh has no regard for his private advantage and in supporting the church has no other consideration than piety and reverence for God. He himself seizes nothing. Indeed, he rather offers all his own property and lavishes it on the protection and support of the house of Jacob."

Jesus and Joseph  
(I found this list at http://www.reclaimingwalther.org/articles/jmc00294.htm)

1. Joseph's brothers were bewildered by his visions of his great authority while Christ's disciples never understood the prophecies of His death and resurrection.
 2. Joseph and Jesus were both betrayed and sold; Joseph for 20 pieces of silver and Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
 3. Joseph's coat was dipped in goat's blood; Christ's robe was covered with his own blood.
   4. Joseph was thrown into a pit while Christ was placed in a tomb.
   5. Joseph's father was told Joseph was dead while was Christ killed by the will of both man and God.
   6. While in room by themselves Joseph's eleven brothers discover he is alive. While in a room by themselves Christ's eleven disciples discover has risen from the dead.
   7. Joseph saves his brothers from starvation while Christ saves all His brothers and sisters from sin.
   8. Joseph brings his brothers to repentance while Christ removes sin from us.
   9. Joseph absolves his brothers while Christ pays for our sin.
  10. Joseph has bread for everyone who comes Egypt while Christ is the bread of life for the whole world.
  11. Joseph leads all Egypt to be owned by Pharaoh while Christ has purchased the entire world and places it under God the Father.
  12. God sends Joseph to preserve life while Christ gives us eternal life.
  13. Joseph saves the church in Egypt while Christ saves the Church in heaven.
  14. Joseph announces that God used Him for great deliverance while Christ has delivered us from sin, death, and hell and given us eternal life.
  15. God used Joseph's evil brothers to make Joseph the ruler of Egypt as He used the evil Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees to make Jesus Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

28 March 2011

Hot Cross Buns

I've been looking for a good recipe for Hot Cross Buns...that freeze well.  I did almost all my (serious) Christmas baking before December 1st last year, and it was awesome.  I hoped to do the same for Easter. But butter cookies freeze well.  I tried out a few bun recipes (found hither and yon on the world wide webs), and freezing, thawing and reheating didn't treat them well.  They were first soggy, then dry.  Any tips?

Email me your favorite Hot Cross Bun recipe (or other traditional Easter dish), even if you're ignorant of its freezability.  Within the next week I'll post a collection of Holy Week/Easter recipes.

25 March 2011

The Annunciation of our Lord (March 25)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."                   Luke 1:26-33

LSB 356

12th century Sinai Icon

Today's feast will be very art-centric at our house, if you can't tell.  The Annunciation is probably the most-painted Biblical subject in the West.  The subjects are simple (just an angel, Mary, the Holy Spirit, and usually some architecture and fleur-de-lis, representing Mary's virginity).  If your kids are studying a particular artist or art style, I'm sure you can google and find a relevant Annunciation.  It's also very easy to compare styles using 15 or so representative Annunciations, since the subject is so simple.

After reading the account, we'll talk about which paintings we like best and why, what parts properly reflect the Biblical account, and which are the artists' imagination. 

*In Greek the feast of the Annunciation is called Euangelismos ("spreading the Good News").  Truly the Good News began at the Incarnation, and culminated at Jesus' Death and Resurrection.  I'm going to try to tie Jesus' conception and birth to our daily Lenten themes (we have been dwelling on Jesus' sufferings and death).

*March 25th began the New Year from 525-1752, "since the era of grace begins with the incarnation of Christ."  When England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, it was moved to January 1.

*Traditionally, John the Baptist's and Jesus's conception dates are also their death dates (borrowing an older Jewish tradition that prophets died or were martyred on their birthdays). 

* Today is Name-Day for all Marys, Marias, Maries, etc.  The babe in my womb will be a Mary Elizabeth, if it is a girl.  (Does anyone know why today is the Name-Day, and not August 15th?)

* In some places in Europe this day is called "The Feast of the Swallows," since around March 25 the swallows return from their winter home. (Austrian saying: "When Gabriel does the message bring / Return the swallows, comes the spring" ). 


* Talk about when life begins, and pray to God to protect all unborn babies.  Lutheran's for Life has some helpful resources, including this article.

* Talk about what fleur-de-lis (or just lilies in general) represent in art.  Originally they symbolized Christ's purity (think Easter), but eventually they came to represent Mary's chastity and virginity, and reference Song of Songs 2:2 "As a lily among brambles /so is my love among the young women." Of course, this verse can be read as Christ speaking of his Church, but it is acceptable to see Mary as a type (symbol) of the Church, or New Jerusalem.

I find it interesting that in many of the paintings above, the angel is holding the lily, or giving it to Mary.  Christ's purity covers His mother's guilt, even while he is being conceived.

*Listen to Bach's Cantata BWV 1 "Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern"  Lyrics here.  Recordings here and here.

*Coloring pages:  Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

23 March 2011

Handy dandy...

....resource lists at the bottom of the page.

I've been going through the St. Andrew Missal, and here are my favorites:

18 March 2011

St. Joseph, Guardian (March 19)

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel"  (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.    Matthew 1:19-24

Joseph's Dream, 1640.  Georges de La Tour.
An Angel Instructing Joseph to Flee. Illustration from Luther's Church Postils*

St. Joseph the Carpenter. c.1635. Georges de La Tour.

St. Joseph. 1620. Garrit van Honthorst.

Dream of Joseph. Daniele Crespi.

The Death of St. Joseph. 1712. Giuseppe Maria Crespi.
*Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.  Check out www.pitts.emory.edu/dia/ for more awesome illustrations.  (Thanks,Kira!)

Today we celebrate St. Joseph, the guardian of Jesus.  Joseph was Jesus' adoptive, or earthly father, and probably died before Jesus began his ministry.  We hear of Joseph in the Christmas stories in the Gospels, and when Luke tells us about the family's visit to the Temple.  We know he was a "just man" (observant of the law) and "unwilling to put [Mary] to shame" (merciful and kind). He was a carpenter, or architect (perhaps even a mason, according to some scholars).  Joseph protected Mary and Jesus, fleeing to Egypt when Herod sought to kill Jesus.  

What honor God bestowed on Joseph by appointing him guardian and earthly father of his Son!   What honor God bestows on us parents--especially fathers--by entrusting to us his Baptized sons and daughters.  One of the best wedding gifts my husband and I received was a letter from a dear (married) friend explaining that any children resulting from our union are God's.  How easy it is to think of our children as "ours," and to be possessive in a envious way, claiming every success and despairing at ever failure.  Perhaps Mary and Joseph were reminded--or had to remind themselves--all the time that Jesus was not "theirs," but God's (indeed God Himself).  Jesus certainly reminded them: "Did you not know I would be about my father's business?" and "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" 

Some thoughts about Joseph for kids: 
* Joseph was known as a carpenter, a builder.  He took care of his family, and fulfilled his vocation.  Maybe at times he felt inadequate or too lowly to instruct the Son of God, but God did not. We should not despise our callings, but joyfully and diligently perform our work and roles.

* Joseph protected Mary and the young Jesus, providing for them, and keeping them from harm.  We just started saying "girls first!" to our 2-year-old son (getting in line to wash hands, etc.)  Joseph's example is a good one of the man's protective role toward women and children.  Our little societal practices (holding the door, giving a woman the last seat, ladies first) just reflect the larger practice of men protecting and acting gently--being a gentleman--toward the weaker sex.

* Joseph does not seek his own recognition.  Ok, we actually don't know if this is true, but notice how small a part he plays in the Gospels, and how he is always in the background in Nativity scenes (often without a halo!). Yet Mary could not have raised Jesus alone.

Fun Activities and Traditions:

* If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Italian on St. Joseph's Day.  And instead of green you wear red!
* Make zeppoles (or find your nearest Italian bakery to buy some!)
* Have a "fasting feast" with fancy vegetarian dishes and desserts (fava bean dishes are traditional in Italy).
* The Polish pray the Litany on St. Joseph's Day.

I try to tie feast days and the seasons together, especially for my young kids (toddlers are like the Medievals--they love to categorize!)  Notice how Lenten practices are used to celebrate St. Joseph (vegetarian feasting and praying the Litany).  Most of the Scripture passages about St. Joseph are from the Christmas account, and in a few days we will celebrate the Annunciation!  A mini-Christmas in Lent! I love it!  Those who say liturgical calendars focus on one event at the expense of another clearly have never spent a year with the Church.  Christmas, Easter, "Church-time" as my kids call Trinity, are all interconnected and constantly overlapping,  just as we experience the whole salvation drama every Sunday in the Divine Service.

17 March 2011

St. Patrick (March 17)

"Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, incapable to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me, and raised me up, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity - benefits beyond men's conception. "

Hymn: LSB 604 I Bind Unto Myself Today

St. Patrick was a Briton, captured as a boy and sold into slavery in Ireland.  He converted while in slavery, remembering the Bible passages his Christian father had taught him.  St. Patrick went on to become a prolific missionary to the Irish, reportedly baptizing 120,000 people and founding hundreds of churches.  More on his life and writings can be found here.

For all the (sometimes very unChristian) frivolity associated with St. Patrick's Day in America, I really love how we enthusiastically celebrate the man who introduced Christ to a whole people, Ireland.  Our culture is blind to the spiritual good that can result from physical evil, and how God uses even our sin for his Purpose.  Anyone today would see Patrick's enslavement as the worst sort of evil, but it freed thousands from pagan superstition and bondage to death.   Remember, too, that Patrick's people (Romano-Briton) conquered the Celts.  I have heard both Africans and Native Americans express gratefulness that God brought the Gospel to their people, even if wickedness, greed, and oppression came with it.

*There are fewer saints days in March than February, so I'm going to review what a missionary is with my kids.  It's easier for them to remember "martyr", "missionary", "pastor" when we have clusters of them in a week. 

*Older kids might like hearing about the legend of Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland, and figuring out what the snakes represent. (I find it humorous that many sites have earnest

*Patrick emphasized the Trinity in his writings, both in the Breastplate hymn and Section 2 of his Confessio.  Review (or introduce) our doctrines of the Holy Trinity.

It is not hard to find lots of St. Patrick's Day crafts, recipes, songs, etc. online (or at your library).  Here are some of my favorite ideas (and a few from readers):

* An all green meal

* An all Irish meal (Irish Soda Bread, Corned-beef and cabbage)

* Rainbow-themed crafts and goodies (focusing on God's promises (HT: Aubri at goldenandnobleworks.blogspot.org.  She has some great St. Patrick's Day ideas)

* Sing "I Bind Unto Myself Today" (LSB 604 with hand motions (HT: Rebekah from CSPP)
I bind unto myself today (cross arms over chest)
The strong name of the Trinity (form triangle with hands--thumbs meet to make the bottom side)
By invocation of the same (make sign of the cross)
The three in one and one in three (hold up 3 fingers when singing "three" and 1 for "one")

I bind this day to me forever (cross arms over chest)
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation (cradle pretend baby)
His baptism in the Jordan river (make water flowing motions with hands)
His cross of death for my salvation (make cross with index fingers)
His bursting from the spiced tomb (begin with hands clasped at chest, then push out and apart)
His riding up the heavenly way (point to ground, then move finger up until pointing at sky)
His coming at the day of doom (begin with hands in the air, move them down until pointing toward ground)
I bind unto myself today (cross arms over chest).
"And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be conformed to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign."

14 March 2011

"Truly worthwhile...."

I never noticed that  lcms.org provides short biographies for each saint feast day.  Check it out.

10 March 2011

Preconciliar Missal "Coloring Sheets"

Here is a 1952 St. Andrew Missal with really great engravings.  I've enlarged and printed out the Lent 1 image as a coloring sheet.  Note that the lectionary isn't exactly like ours, but I'm going to go through and save each image as the appropriate Lutheran Sunday, so I can find the files easily.

Memorizing Scripture

How do you choose what verses your children memorize?  We have a simple memory verse per church season, but that will change as the kids get older. Some ideas bouncing around my brain:

*related to Sunday school
*related to Luther's Small Catechism for early elementary; the verses in the explanation for later elementary/junior high
*if we homeschool, for jr/sr. high school unit studies based on the Good News magazines.**  I love all the Bible verses the writers use to defend the doctrine they are teaching.
*related to the weekly lectionary.

When recitation was serious business...and every schoolmaster looked like Abe Lincoln

**Good News is an awesome resource; subscribe if you haven't already.  They explain complex theological concepts VERY simply and clearly.  I ordered all the back issues and sent them and a subscription to my cousin's prison in VA.  Prison chapel libraries are notoriously haphazard when it comes to resources (usually everything's donated).   Nursing homes might be another place that would welcome this Biblical publication.

07 March 2011

Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas

Third century martyrs, Perpetua and Felicitas, hold a special place in my heart, because of their courage, charity toward each other, and family ways (Perpetua was nursing when condemned and Felicitas 8 months along).  They were charged as being catechumens at a time when the Emperor was attempting to crack down on new Christian and Jewish converts.  Before they were jailed, they were baptized into Christ.

Perpetua was in great discomfort while jailed (I imagine physically and emotionally), until her mother brought her nursing son.  Then she wrote, "and straightway I became well and was lightened of my labour and care for the child; and suddenly the prison was made a palace for me."  The jailer was very sympathetic and allowed many Christian visitors.  Her pagan father often came to try to dissuade her from her shameful charge and penalty, but she refused to "sacrifice to pagan gods."

Felicitas delivered a few days before the Christians were sent into the arena, and her daughter was adopted by a Christian family. She had prayed for this, since pregnant women were not allowed to be sent into the arena, and desired to die with her companions, instead of alone.

You can read a translation of the account here (a portion was apparently written by Perpetua while in prison).

Today I will emphasize/contemplate:
*  The love of Perpetua and Felicitas toward each other, although Perpetua was a noblewoman, and Felicitas a slave.  Perfect love casts out all fear!  I will talk to my kids about true brotherhood in Christ. (Tradition says Perpetua was pale-skinned, while Felicitas was dark.)

*  The ladies' fulfilling their vocations as mothers, even under certain persecution.  Likewise, not succumbing to (what would be my) weakness, denying Christ in order to remain with their husband and children (a false unselfishness).  I pray God would give me He strength if I ever am tempted!

*  The imprisoned had many visions before their death, often centered around fighting Satan, not just flesh-and-blood beasts.  We will pray for Christians facing death around the world, whether by martyrdom or natural death, that they would resist the temptations of Satan with God's Word and Promises.  If you own it, read passages from The Art of Dying, by Luther.

* Pray for suffering Christians in Africa (esp. Egypt); Perpetua and Felicity were Carthaginians 

(For the kids I'll simplify and soften these themes: loving God even more than our families and friends; fulfilling the job God has given us, even if it is hard or we're persecuted for it; and not fearing death, because Christ has overcome fear and death!)

Felicite and Perpetue, an antique heirloom rambling rose

05 March 2011

Pancake Day!

For Shrove Tuesday we will make a ton of crepes and fill them with a variety of goodies (both savory and sweet).  Here is the recipe (and some pictures from a test-run last month).  I have also included another yummy fried cake recipes (all are from my trusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook, unless noted)

"Like a velvet cake wrapped around a simple dress, they transform good leftovers"

2 eggs                     1 cup flour
1 cup milk               2 T. butter, melted
1/2 t. salt

Beat the eggs well, then beat in the milk, salt, flour, and butter.  Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes. Heat a 7-inch or 5-inch skillet or crepe until hot, then film it with butter or shortening, using a brush or a folded paper towel.  Using a ladle or small cup, pour in several tablespoons of batter, then quickly tilt the pan so that the batter spreads evenly in the thinnest possible layer.  (If there is too much batter, pour some back.)  Cook a few minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned and the edges lift easily from the pan.  The pancake should then slide loosely about in the pan.  Turn with a spatula and flip it over.  Cook for a few minutes (second side will have brown spots).  Grease pan again and repeat.  Toward the bottom of the bowl, if the batter gets thick, add more milk.  

*Cheese sauce: make 2 cups of white sauce (bechemal) and add 1 1/2 or 2 cups of swiss or cheddar cheese. 
*Snips of bacon and mushrooms fried together
*Creamy mushrooms
*Avocado slices
*Minced chicken in white sauce
*Cottage cheese with chives (cream cheese sounds better to me...)
*Grated cheese and bacon pieces
*Raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream
* Lemon and brown sugar (we used honey)
*Powdered sugar
*Any jam, and, oh, yeah....
(Any other suggestions..??)

Crepes in the pan!
Main course: cheese filling

Sweeties, clockwise: apple butter, cherry jam, powdered sugar, honey and lemon juice
Son#1 mixing up the lemon and honey

Oatmeal Pancakes (16 cakes)

1/2 cup milk                       1/2 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
2 T. butter, melted              2 T. baking powder
1 egg                                 1/2 t. salt
2 T. flour

Heat milk and and stir in oatmeal.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients and cook as you do other pancakes (these are moister and heavier than normal flour pancakes).

Detailed recipe for making Buttermilk Pancakes (video and pictures included).

A Jesus Tree

Mirroring the "Jesse Tree" of Lent, a Jesus Tree pictorially  follows the life and teachings of Christ up until his death and resurrection.  I have found a variety of ways these can be made.  Here are some examples:

Flannel banner: You can buy a kit at Leaflet Missal.  Jessica, at Shower of Roses (a Roman Catholic blog) made her own Jesus tree, and shares pictures and relevant verses.  She has many other Lent and Easter ideas.

Paper cross: "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church," by Catherine and Peter Fournier, has instructions for creating a large cross (on posterboard), divided into 40 squares.  For each reading, spanning the Fall to Good Friday, a small picture is attached to the cross (so a fruit for the Fall, etc.).  They also suggest making permanent, laminated and velcroed pictures.

A "real" tree": "Plant" a dry branch in plaster of paris in a pot, and hang Lenten ornaments each day.  

The basic idea is to find a Lent reading schedule and create figures or coloring squares for each reading, counting down to Easter.  If we ever do this (not this year!), I will probably simply follow the Daily Lectionary schedule in the LSB and have my kids either color a picture relevant to that day's reading, or create ornaments.

Has anyone ever made a Jesus tree?  If so, send me your pictures, and I'll post them

04 March 2011

Shrove Tuesday

Although not a real church festival, Shrove Tuesday is when English folks used up all their eggs and butter to ready for the Lenten fast.  So, traditionally, everyone feasted on pancakes!  Sometimes this day is called Fat Tuesday. 

Shrove (past participle of the verb shrive, according to the venerable Wikipedia) means to receive absolution ("to scrape off"). Often parishioners confessed and received absolution in preparation for receiving communion on Easter Sunday.  (By the way, Luther protested infrequent communion, offered to the laity only once or twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.  Thank God for frequent communion, even if it's only twice a month!)

On the continent, pre-Lent fun lasted several days, and was called Carnival ("goodbye to meat").
Instead of just flipping pancakes, large city-wide parades and masquerade balls are held. Originating in Italy (traditional Carnivale foods, if you're interested: fritelle, crespelle, sfingi, castagnole, cenci, nodi, chiacchere, bugie, galani, fritole, berlingaccio, sanguinaccio and tortelli), the French borrowed the idea and developed Mardis Gras.

I have always thought of Fat Tuesday and Mardis Gras unfavorably, probably because of the debauchery modern New Orleans promotes.  However, celebrations on the Continent seemed more like our Halloween--a time to dress up in costumes and masks and have fun.  (Many of the children found after the bombing of Dresden on Shrove Tuesday, 1944, were in costume.)

Other Trivia
*In Sweden, semla is traditionally only to be eaten on Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday). 
*Those crazy Danes: "One popular custom is the fastelavnsris, a switch that children use to flog their parents to wake them up on Fastelavns Sunday."
*Those crazy Hungarians: "They perform a burial ritual to symbolise the end of winter and spike doughnuts on weapons to symbolise the defeat of Ottomans"

(Wikipedia has an extensive article on Shrove Tuesday, if you're interested in how your ethnic ancestors celebrated)

Tomorrow I will post some favorite Shrove Tuesday pancake recipes.

Feast of the Transfiguration

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
Matthew 17:5