14 March 2012

"Easter is Normal"

Love this:
But that is really how it is: Easter is normal. It is not that Easter is like most of the year, with no special ceremonies all its own, but that the rest of the year is like Easter. Those ceremonies we are prone to take for granted – standing for the Gospel, singing Alleluias between the Epistle and the Gospel, etc, are all Easter ceremonies. Easter feels normal because Easter is the standard.
There is something confused in us that prefers the austere novelty of Lent, Passiontide, and Holy Week to Easter. To be sure, this confusion isn’t sinful, but it is confusion, not unlike children preferring boxed macaroni and cheese or McDonald’s hamburgers to the real things.
Easter is the norm because while we engage in some small liturgical re-enactments of Our Lord’s passion for the sake of teaching and remembering what Our Lord has done for us and how He loves us, in fact, it is done, finished, complete, and perfect.
 (Read the rest from Pr. Petersen over at Gottesdienst.)

10 March 2012

Family Altars

A reader recently asked about the practice of setting up a family altar.  This Lent is the first season we have set up an altar, and the children have really responded well to having a space set aside for prayer and hymn singing. They love to take turns lighting the candle!  Our altar--in a central place in our home--also helps my husband and me remember the purpose of Lent and the many ways we can teach our children about how "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," and "in this is love, not that we loved Him, but He loved us..."

Catechesis, reading of the Word, and singing hymn are vital to a Lutheran religious education, and can not be handed over completely to a Christian school  or Sunday School.  The family prayer or devotions are the backbone of a family altar, and what we place on the altar should reflect what we are teaching.

So what are the necessary components of a family altar?  A Bible, catechism, or hymnal, or a cross or crucifix.  Beyond that, it's up to you.  Some households hang icons of saints around their crucifix, to remind them of the Church Triumphant, that when we pray and worship, we are joining our prayer to the Prayers of the whole Church.  Some include candles, bowls for alms, flowers, fine linens, seasonal decor.

Some other reading on the subject:
"The Family Altar"
"Why and How of Home Altars"
"Our Household Will Have its Family Altar"

And finally, here are some examples, just to give you ideas.

This is our altar, on top of our piano in our dining room.  The purple tablecloth I got at Berger's for $4, and the white runner is an antique I inherited.  The orchid was a Christmas gift (one of those grow-your-own you can buy at Target).  We planted it around Epiphany and it bloomed the week of Ash Wednesday!  We have our Bible, hymnal and Reading the Psalms with Luther stacked up there.  The ceramic bowl is something I found downstairs, and the kids put any change they find in the house in there for alms (they call that bowl "the Baptism bowl," which was a connection I did not make.  They say the blue looks like water.)  

This lovely altar comes from reader Aubri's home.  I love her homemade crown of thorns and beautiful crucifix.  She says, "My oldest made a bank for alms, following Catholic Icing idea, I put it on our table, along with the crown of thorns. I'm thinking we'll remove a toothpick each day and either say a prayer for someone or give thanks to Jesus for one of the ways He suffered for us."

Send pictures and I'll add them to this post!

08 March 2012

Lenten Resources

Check out Emmanuel Press!

Last year we sent Easter cards to our extended family, and everyone loved it!