Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I don't do Lent.

Nor Advent. I do do Christmas and Easter. There is no real logic to this pattern, other than my religious heritage. I grew up an American Baptist preacher's kid in Oregon and we just didn't do Lent and Advent. We did do Christmas and Easter in a big way. So you won't find me wearing ashes today, though I certainly respect and love those who do. And I always forget to plan around Advent after Thanksgiving, though I try to give a nod to it sometime in December.

Baptists, at least back then and I don't think it has changed, were not much into ceremony, though we did have our essential sacred rituals. We did baptism, which was a full-length dunk into a baptistry only big enough to accommodate the baptizer and the baptizee's height. I remember my 6'6" father, the Rev. Merritt B. Ketcham (in case anyone is googling him right now in hopes of discovering our genealogy), standing majestically in the baptistry, welcoming the next baptizee with an outstretched hand as that person carefully made his/her way down the steps into the water.

I was ever so proud of my dad during baptisms. He was big and strong and welcoming. I remember his welcoming every person who came down those steps into the water with him and I remember the smile on his face as he welcomed me, a child, into the baptismal water. But the moment I most loved was when he turned to face the congregation, as he stood in the baptistry water, lifted his arms in prayer, and said, in his sonorous voice, "And yet there is room".

(That memory gives me a lump in my throat even today and I've always wanted to use it in an illustration. Perhaps I will get my chance and you will find it in a sermon sometime.)

Another important sacred ritual for us Baptists was Communion. Notice I don't call it the Eucharist. For such plain-speaking folks as Baptists, "Eucharist" was a little high-minded and fancy. It was just a shared meal, for heaven's sake, a symbolic reminder of the Last Supper. Jesus probably thought of it as a Passover meal; it just happened to be the one immediately preceding his death.

I love Communion and I like to bring it to my congregation in various forms---Flower Communion, a Bread Communion, and others. But for me, Communion is also represented in congregational potlucks, the goodies someone brings to a board meeting, the refreshments during social hour, the animal crackers in the RE wing, a family meal or TGIF gathering or Happy Hour. It isn't fancy; it's real human sharing of food and drink at any time of year or day.

I'll be preaching on the UU Second Principle on March 8: "Justice, Equity, and Compassion in Human Relations". It seems to me that this principle says something about human sharing and welcome. Maybe I'll get a chance to reminisce about my Baptist days!


LinguistFriend said...

One thing that I have seen UUs do fairly often during the post-Christmas period is discussion of Jesus's parables, with a frequency which I do not see at other times of the year. I would guess that it comes out of a Protestant inheritance, but I have never really understood how it works in detail. Perhaps you can illuminate me.

ms. kitty said...

Gosh, LF, I have no idea. I certainly don't discuss the parables during that period. I hadn't noticed it happening here. Maybe someone else has an idea.

Robin Edgar said...

I don't do Lent either but I did shoot some short videos of the Ash Wednesday service at St. Clement's Anglican church in Verdun Quebec. They are posted to this Facebook page of the church's music director Roland Graham should you or anyone else wish to see how Anglicans do Lent.


Robin Edgar