Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christian Traditions 007: Septuagesima Sunday

Von Trapp Follow-Along: Maria makes little mention of Septuagesima Sunday specifically, but discusses the entire period of the Pre-Lent Season and Carnival under “CARNIVAL” and “PRE-LENT.” (See her book.)

INTRODUCTION:

As discussed in the previous post, Septuagesima Sunday marks the beginning of the Pre-Lent Season and Carnival.

1 February 2015WHEN IS IT?

Septuagesima Sunday occurs on the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday, or about two and a half weeks before Ash Wednesday. This year, it will occur on 1 February.

Because Ash Wednesday is a moveable feast, so is Septuagesima Sunday. The earliest date Septuagesima may occur is 18 January and the latest is 22 February. (Coincidentally, those are the dates of the two Catholic Feasts of the Chair of St. Peter. The first, on 18 January, is celebrated by some Protestant churches as the Feast of the Confession of Peter. The second, on 22 February, is still commemorated by some Catholic churches as the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.)

septuagesimaWHAT IS IT?

Septuagesima Sunday is so named because it occurs within 70 days before Easter. Specifically, it occurs exactly 64 days before Easter while the next Sunday, Sexagesima, occurs 57 days before Easter. However, the following Sunday, Quinquagesima, occurs 50 days before Easter (if you include both Easter Sunday and Quinquagesima Sunday in the counting), hence the name Quinquagesima. It is believed that Sexagesima and Septuagesima are named more in relation to Quinquagesima than in relation to Easter itself.

It is the first day of the Pre-Lent Season. A liturgist named Amalarius of Metz (c. 780-850) wrote that “Septuagesima” refers to a period of 70 days which include the nine weeks before Easter plus Easter Week, which represents the 70-year captivity of Jews in Babylon, as told in Ezra, Daniel, and other Old Testament books. Septuagesima Sunday has been observed since at least the 500s AD. For the most part, Septuagesima Sunday and Septuagesima Week are omitted from post-1969 Catholic usage and any traditions reserved for this day or this week are moved to Ash Wednesday. However, some Catholic groups do not follow the 1969 standards and at least one other—the Polish National Catholic Church—has reinstated it. Some Protestants adopted the same 1969 Catholic change in full or with variations while other Protestants did not adopt the 1969 Catholic changes and have continued to observe traditional Septuagesima Sunday practices. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches also retain the Pre-Lent Season but with 22 days’ length rather than 17.

Traditionally, on Septuagesima Sunday, the “Alleluia” (or “Hallelujah”) is laid aside or “buried” and not taken out again until Easter Sunday. Alleluia is a Hebrew word similar to our “Hoorah!”—a word of triumph chanted to hail a victor after a battle, and the chant John the Beloved heard in heaven during his vision of the Apocalypse after the Beast (popularly known now as “the Antichrist”), Satan, and all the forces of evil have been overthrown (Revelation 19:1-7). Ever since the Medieval Times, children would carry a wooden tablet on which was engraved the word “Alleluia” in a long procession into the church, lay it at the altar, and cover it with a purple cloth. Then, on Easter, the priest would chant a threefold Alleluia in triumphal tones. The Lent and, to some degree, Pre-Lent Seasons remind us that we are sinful and dead in our sins (Romans 5:11-12, 18-21) whereas the Easter Triduum (Good Friday through Easter Sunday) reminds us that as Christ was crucified and resurrected, so are we crucified in order to be dead to sin and resurrected to life in Christ (Romans 6:3-11). Therefore, because Lent is a time to remember our sad state prior to Christ, and Pre-Lent leads up to and mentally prepares us for Lent, Alleluia is buried in Pre-Lent and no longer spoken or sung until Christ’s triumphal victory over death on Easter Sunday. During Pre-Lent, people begin formulating their Lent resolutions (or parents help their children to do so).

One planning to complete a 40-day Lenten fast without including Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays would begin on Septuagesima Sunday.

calendarLOOKING AHEAD

The second Sunday before Ash Wednesday, Sexagesima Sunday, occurs 8 February this year and the first Sunday before Ash Wednesday, Quinquagesima Sunday, occurs 15 February this year. There are only three Sundays in the Pre-Lent Season.

STANDARD ACTIVITIES

There are a few traditional activities for this day.

  • (Traditional) Readings. Because this season prepares us for Lent, which reminds us of our sinful nature and need of a Savior, it is traditional to read the account of the Fall of Man from Creation through Cain and Abel on Septuagesima Sunday or during this week.
    • Genesis 1-4
    • I Corinthians 9
    • Matthew 20:1-16
  • (Traditional) Alleluia Burial. As described above, the Alleluia is traditionally buried on this day and no more alleluias are sung until Easter Sunday. You may perform a variation of this event by purchasing a decorative item that reads “Alleluia” or “Hallelujah” or creating your own. The simplest version might involve simply writing the word on a sheet of paper or cardboard. Place it in a special place (I think most of us don’t have home altars, which is where Maria Von Trapp describes things like this being placed, but perhaps you have a fireplace mantel or some other place where it would be safely undisturbed for 70 days) and cover it with a violet or purple cloth. If you have children, you may have the children take turns marching it around the house while singing hymns incorporating the word “Alleluia” or “Hallelujah.”
  • (Traditional) Prayer. Pray the following or use it to guide your own prayer.
    • “O LORD, we ask that You hear the prayers of Your people; that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness, for the glory of Your Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.”

KNIT AND CROCHET ACTIVITIES

The most appropriate symbol for this day is the number 70.

  • Knitting Pattern: “Numbers” by Frankie Brown (here). (These measure 4 inches length using DK [8 ply] or 3 inches length using Fingering [4 ply]. Since I recommend all these ornaments be less than 3 inches long, you should use Fingering.) (Note: knit only the 7 and 0. You may consider stitching them together. If you’re really ambitious, you might consider double-knitting and then stuffing them.)
  • Crochet Pattern: “Numbers 0-9” by CreativeCrochetWorkshop (here) (these measure 2 inches in length) or “The Moogly Crochet Numbers” by Tamara Kelly (here) (these measure 3.5 inches in length). (Note: crochet only the 7 and 0. You may consider stitching them together.)

じゃあまたね!

5 More Things I Hate About Japan

The last time I wrote a list of things I don’t like about Japan, I confessed that it almost feels mean and ungrateful to complain about anything here because the people are so nice. Furthermore, Japan generally has all the amenities you would expect in a developed nation, so it also feels like this whole post should be hashtagged “#firstworldproblems.” Nevertheless, there will always be annoyances for expats living in a new country, especially one in which the native language is different from that to which they’re accustomed, so here it is. (Also see my previous posts on things I love about Japan part 1 and part 2 and things I love-hate about Japan.)

  1. Deodorant. It just doesn’t work. I’ve tried three different kinds, even one spray-on brand. To be fair, the third one I tried does generally work as a deodorant (though not as well as American brands), but it’s alcohol-based, so if I’ve just shaved my armpits… OUCH!!! Derek and I both finally gave in and he bought some for each of us the last time he was in the U.S. on a business trip.
  2. Clumpy Sugar. Most white sugar here is pretty clumpy, like brown sugar. Also like brown sugar, you have to pack it to get the desired amount. Although granulated non-clumpy white sugar does exist, it’s more expensive.
  3. Plumbing. I’ve already talked about certain aspects of the plumbing that I hate here, but there are more. For example, in our nice apartment, the water turns off arbitrarily. There are also hair traps after the drain. In the U.S., there are hair traps on the drain itself, which you can easily access or, to be honest, force the hair around. However, hair traps in Japan come after the drain, so you have to pull out the drain and dig down to pull out the hair trap and empty it every month or so. But because it comes after the drain, everything gets caught in it, not just the hair, so it’s a pretty grisly job. Furthermore, the drainage itself isn’t perfect, even when the hair trap is clean.
  4. Child-Access in Restaurants. Frequently, restaurants have nowhere to park the stroller (Japanese strollers easily fold up and stand propped up on their own so that they are less than 4 ft tall, 2 ft wide, and 6 inches deep; therefore, they take up virtually no space when folded, but there is no place for them anyway). This is a big deal because most people don’t even own cars and therefore walk everywhere, so you can’t just leave the stroller in the trunk of your car. Furthermore, there is often no handicap access (I really feel for wheelchair-bound people here) such as a ramp to the entrance, so you may have to carry the stroller up several steps or even up a flight of stairs. My biggest annoyance, though, is the lack of high chairs. Every restaurant in the U.S. with the exception of most bars and non-traditional restaurants such as certain coffee shops has high-chairs. However, most Japanese restaurants don’t. And when they do, there often aren’t any straps, so you have to hold your arm across your child to prevent him/her from slipping out.
  5. Restaurant Pricing and To-Go. Every restaurant in the U.S. has the capacity to give you food to-go or to give you a box for your leftovers. However, most Japanese restaurants don’t, with the exception of fast-food restaurants. Furthermore, in general, food here is generally more expensive. Part of that may be due to high tariffs on certain imports, and part of it is probably due to the fact that waiters and waitresses make minimum wage here (tipping doesn’t exist, so they can’t subsist on the sort of wages waitstaff in the U.S. get). Nevertheless, even in typically non-tipping restaurants, the cost of food is much higher than you would expect; and in typically tipping restaurants, the cost of food is higher even when you take a comparable American meal and add a 20% tip to it before comparing prices. For example, a Chipotle knock-off called Frijoles in Roppongi offers their grande burrito (which is supposed to be the same size as but in actuality is smaller than Chipotle’s burrito) for almost 1500 JPY (about $15) as compared to Chipotle’s $6.50 burrito—in other words, in a non-tipping restaurant, the food still costs more than double for smaller portions. To be fair, there are exceptions (for example, sushi is less expensive here than it is in the Dallas area of Texas) and there are places to get inexpensive food (such as McDonald’s or Japan’s national version, Mos Burger*), but most food is more expensive.

じゃあまたね!

 

*Yes, it’s actually Mos Burger, not Mo’s Burger. But it’s pronounced モズバーガー (moz bahgah), so it sounds like it should be Mo’s, but there is very definitely no apostrophe in the romaji.

Christian Traditions 006: Pre-Lent Season and Carnival

Von Trapp Follow-Along: As mentioned in the last post, Maria describes Candlemas (2 February) in beautiful detail under “CANDLEMAS.” She also says quite a bit about the period between Epiphany (6 January) and Ash Wednesday (which is 18 February this year) under “CARNIVAL” and the Pre-Lent Season under “PRE-LENT.”

INTRODUCTION

Pre-Lent Season and Carnival are a time of preparation for Lent. Because Lent is a time of fasting and abstinence, Pre-Lent and Carnival are a time of feasting and celebration.

violet purpleCOLOR

Violet or Purple. (As explained below, Pre-Lent coincides with Ordinary Time for the month of February this year. Pre-Lent supersedes Ordinary Time, so instead of Ordinary Time’s green, the colors are Pre-Lent’s violet or purple.) This color symbolizes penitence and preparation.

chi rho christosSYMBOL

There doesn’t seem to be a symbol for the Pre-Lent Season or Carnival, so the XP symbol of Ordinary Time would continue (see my previous post about Ordinary Time).

 

1-17 February 2015WHEN IS IT?

Pre-Lent Season starts on Septuagesima Sunday, which lasts 17 days, begins three Sundays before Ash Wednesday, and ends the day before Ash Wednesday (“Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras”). The earliest it can begin is January 18 and the latest it can end is March 9. This year, it will be 1 February through 17 February. Because it begins on Septuagesima Sunday, the season may also be known as Septuagesima.

Carnival may nearly match Ordinary Time (wherein it stretches from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, so 6 January through 17 February this year), or perfectly match the Pre-Lent Season (as described above, so 1 February through 17 February this year). The most traditional observance of Carnival exactly matched the Pre-Lent Season. For the purposes of my observances—and for bloggy reasons—I consider Carnival to exactly match Pre-Lent Season.

septuagesimaWHAT IS IT?

Carnival. During Lent, as Maria Von Trapp explains, “good Christians are not allowed to attend public dances and are not supposed to have a big festive wedding celebration.” (See CARNIVAL in her book.) There are actually two such times: Advent (from late November or early December to Christmas) and Lent (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday). To make up for these two times, the time from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday (Ordinary Time Part 1 and Pre-Lent) is dedicated to dancing and feasting of any kind. In Latin, the saying “Meat—farewell!” (“Carne—Vale!”) became “Carnival.” Carnival begins on Epiphany (6 January) and ends at midnight on the day before Ash Wednesday (“Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras,” which is 17 February this year). Carnival is seen as necessary for the individual, families, and communities, because it’s a time during which you can let off steam and have a good time. In the same way that children come home to family get-togethers on Thanksgiving, they do the same during Carnival. “Parish groups” (which I translate into Evangelical language as “small group” or “Bible Study group” or “Sunday School class”) have small parties every Sunday during Carnival. The best events—be they family evenings or small group parties—have a special theme for which people must dress and speak or even provide appropriate food and games. Dancing is a must, which I admit makes my Baptist-born heart skip a beat. Games are important as well. Of course, Carnival is a time for dancing together, playing together, and singing together! So songs are a must. Food is important, too. Historically, the closer Ash Wednesday came, the more housewives worked to clear out the forbidden foods, which, of course, they did by cooking them. Because Lent and Advent are times during which meat, milk, cream, butter, cheese, and everything else bad for your arteries was forbidden and therefore excluded from meals, Carnival is a time when most of your food should be deep-fried and dripping in gravy! Cheesy, creamy, buttery goodness is a must! Because of this rush to clear the kitchen and pantry of forbidden items, the food alone makes the last days before Ash Wednesday the climax of Carnival. On “Fat Tuesday” (or “Mardi Gras”), the day before Ash Wednesday, people traditionally gathered together in large parties to experience the forbidden dances, games, songs, and foods one more time. Maria Von Trapp explains,

This should be a big celebration, if possible of the whole parish together, or a circle of friends, and everything which one did during the previous weeks should be done just once more. “Once more this dance!” “Once more this song!” “Once more this game!”–until twelve o’clock sharp. When the clock strikes twelve, in the middle of the dance, according to the good old tradition, one should stop and the whole group should kneel down and say one “Our Father” together and then, rising up, say, “I wish you a blessed season of Lent” and go home. (See CARNIVAL in her book.)

Pre-Lent. Pre-Lent is also known as Septuagesima (since it begins on Septuagesima Sunday) or Shrovetide (since it ends on Shrove Tuesday). As explained earlier, Pre-Lent coincides with all of February’s Ordinary Time this year. Pre-Lent is primarily a lead-up to Lent and conversion from Carnival to Lent, a time wherein Christians prepare themselves for the Lent Season. (See “PRE-LENT” in Maria Von Trapp’s book.) It is a time during which parents introduce their children to prayer, fasting, and charitable giving, which will be practiced during Lent. It is also during this time that any preparations necessary for Lent are completed. For example, Lenten resolutions may be formulated at this time. It developed in the 500s AD as a time during which people prayed for God’s protection and defense from war, pestilence, and famine.

On the first day of the Pre-Lent Season, Septuagesima Sunday, the “Alleluia” (or “Hallelujah”) is laid aside or “buried” and not taken out again until Easter Sunday. Alleluia is a Hebrew word similar to our “Hoorah!”—a word of triumph chanted to hail a victor after a battle, and the chant John the Beloved heard in heaven during his vision of the Apocalypse after the Beast (popularly known now as “the Antichrist”), Satan, and all the forces of evil have been overthrown (Revelation 19:1-7). Ever since the Medieval Times, children would carry a wooden tablet on which was engraved the word “Alleluia” in a long procession into the church, lay it at the altar, and cover it with a purple cloth. Then, on Easter, the priest would chant a threefold Alleluia in triumphal tones. The Lent and, to some degree, Pre-Lent Seasons remind us that we are sinful and dead in our sins (Romans 5:11-12, 18-21) whereas the Easter Triduum (Good Friday through Easter Sunday) reminds us that as Christ was crucified and resurrected, so are we crucified in order to be dead to sin and resurrected to life in Christ (Romans 6:3-11). Therefore, because Lent is a time to remember our sad state prior to Christ, and Pre-Lent leads up to and mentally prepares us for Lent, Alleluia is buried in Pre-Lent and no longer spoken or sung until Christ’s triumphal victory over death on Easter Sunday. During Pre-Lent, people begin formulating their Lent resolutions (or parents help their children to do so).

calendarLOOKING AHEAD

As discussed above, Pre-Lent prepares us for Lent, which begins Ash Wednesday on 18 February this year.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The Pre-Lent Season and Carnival will encompass the following events this year:

  • 1-17: Ordinary Time, cont., and Pre-Lent Season/Carnival
  • 1: Septuagesima Sunday (first day of Pre-Lent Season/Carnival)
  • 2: Candlemas (a.k.a., Feast of the Presentation of the Lord)
  • 6: Feast of Saint Paul Miki and Companions (JAPAN ONLY)
  • 8: Sexagesima Sunday
  • 14: Valentine’s Day
  • 15: Quinquagesima Sunday or Shrove Sunday
  • 17: Shrove Tuesday (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras; last day of Pre-Lent Season/Carnival)

STANDARD ACTIVITIES

Further activities for each event that falls during this season will be presented in the appropriate posts.

Ordinary Time

  • (Traditional) Readings. Recall that Ordinary Time also extends into the Pre-Lent Season, ending with Shrove Tuesday. Continue the Ordinary Time daily readings as outlined in the first post on this series. You can find the Sunday readings here (recall that we are in a B year) and weekday and Saturday readings here (recall that we are in a I year), or you can find them published daily on my Facebook page (facebook.com/Schaabling). The first Sunday of the month, 1 February, starts Week 4 of Ordinary Time.

Carnival

  • (Traditional) Dance. For family celebrations, it’s suggested that you learn your family heritage’s folk dances. For example, my husband’s family is primarily German and mine primarily French and Swedish, so we would learn German, French, and Swedish folk dances.
  • (Traditional) Play Games. For family celebrations, it’s recommended that you learn a new game—by asking among acquaintances or picking up a book, etc.—and add it to your family repertoire every week of Carnival.
  • (Traditional) Sing Songs. For family celebrations, try learning traditional folk songs of your heritage. Although I don’t speak German, French, or Swedish, there are plenty of American folk songs I don’t know—honestly, I don’t even know Yankee Doodle Dandy! The recommendation is to learn and thereby add a new song to your family repertoire every week of Carnival.
  • (Traditional) Food. As explained above, this is a time for eating everything that is forbidden during Lent: eggs, milk and cream and their derivatives (cheese, butter, etc.), and meat. Yum! I made homemade donuts from Pioneer Woman’s recipe and chicken tetrazzini. Because pancakes require milk, eggs, and butter, which have to be finished off before Ash Wednesday, many people around the world would eat lots of pancakes during Carnival.
  • (Traditional) Party! Get together with your church group or other families on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, 17 February this year) and party until midnight!

Pre-Lent

  • (Traditional) Resolutions. Formulate your Lent resolutions—have them written before Ash Wednesday. Lent resolutions should not use a negative approach (“I won’t do this or that”) but a positive approach (Maria Von Trapp’s examples are: “I will use these three books…” “I will use the time I save by abstaining from television for this and this…” “I will use the money I save by not going to the movies for alms given to…”)

KNIT AND CROCHET ACTIVITIES

There are no knit or crochet activities for this period as a whole, the same as there were none for Ordinary Time as a whole. Activities for each event will be presented in the appropriate posts.

 

じゃあまたね!

Christian Traditions 005: February 2015 Introduction

Von Trapp Follow-Along: Maria describes Candlemas (2 February) in beautiful detail under “CANDLEMAS.” She also says quite a bit about the period between Epiphany (6 January) and Ash Wednesday (which is 18 February this year) under “CARNIVAL” and the Pre-Lent Season under “PRE-LENT.”

INTRODUCTION

Depending on the date of Easter, which determines the date of Ash Wednesday, which determines the date of Septuagesima Sunday, February may be comprised entirely or very little of Pre-Lent and mostly or not at all of Lent commemoration. This year, Septuagesima Sunday, the first day of the Pre-Lent Season (or Carnival), happens to fall on February 1, so the entire month will involve Pre-Lent and Lent commemorations. Furthermore, Ordinary Time is considered to continue until the day before Ash Wednesday, which means there’s some overlap between Ordinary Time and Pre-Lent Season. In this case, Ordinary Time will continue through 17 February, Pre-Lent Season will run 1 February through 17 February, and Lent will start 18 February and continue through the rest of this month.

February 2015WHEN IS IT?

This year, February encompasses Ordinary Time, Pre-Lent Season and Carnival, and Lent Season.

Ordinary Time, as described before, stretches from the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which is the first Sunday after Epiphany (6 January) until Ash Wednesday. This year, that translates to 12 January through 17 February.

Pre-Lent Season starts on Septuagesima Sunday, which lasts 17 days, begins three Sundays before Ash Wednesday, and ends the day before Ash Wednesday (“Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras”). The earliest it can begin is January 18 and the latest it can end is March 9. This year, it will be 1 February through 17 February.

Carnival may nearly match Ordinary Time (wherein it stretches from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, so 6 January through 17 February this year), or perfectly matches the Pre-Lent Season (as described above, so 1 February through 17 February this year). The most traditional observance of Carnival exactly matched the Pre-Lent Season.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday (the day before Good Friday, which is the Friday before Easter Sunday). This year, that’s 18 February through 2 April.

So for the month of February, we’ll be observing the continuation of Ordinary Time and, simultaneously, the entire Pre-Lent Season from 1 February through 17 February, and then Lent for the remainder of the month, 18 February through 28 February.

candlemasWHAT IS IT?

Carnival and Pre-Lent Season are a time of preparation for Lent. Looking forward to the solemnity, fasting, and abstinence of Lent, Christians see this as a time for celebration, for letting loose and enjoying themselves. Also during this time, they make any necessary preparations for Lent, such as preparing their Lent resolutions.

Lent is a period of instruction and penance, during which we fast and abstain in preparation for Easter and in remembrance of Jesus’ 40-day fast in preparation for His ministry. We recall the Fall, our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior. This prepares us for the celebration of Easter, the fulfillment of all our needs.

calendarLOOKING AHEAD

A list of items you will need for this month follows:

  • Candles. (Required for Candlemas, 2 Feb.) For a family or small group project, you will need one candle for each member of the family/group, preferably a tall candle with paper collars to protect from dripping wax. If you will not be participating in any family or small group projects, you will simply need as many candles as you would like for décor.
  • Ingredients for Valentine’s Foods. (Required for 14 Feb.) You may choose one of three recipes—or make all of them! In addition to the usual ingredients expected in baking (flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, etc.), the possibly unusual ingredients you may not have in your fridge or pantry follow. For Scones: dark brown sugar, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, sliced almonds, Grand Marnier liqueur (may substitute orange juice or orange juice concentrate plus orange extract), navel orange, confectioner’s sugar, orange juice. For Cookies: powdered sugar, almond extract, cream of tartar, icing. For Cake: almond paste, almond extract, whipping cream, powdered sugar, red food coloring or crème de almond liqueur.
  • Shrovetide Party. (This event occurs between 14 Feb and 17 Feb.) The blog post for this event will be published the previous Thursday, but you will probably need to plan ahead even further. Plan to have a party—with church or small group or family or friends—on Shrove Tuesday. Traditionally, it runs until midnight because at the stroke of midnight, Lent begins, upon which time you can no longer dance, eat certain foods, or party. As an alternative, you may have the event on Shrove Saturday (14 February) instead, which is the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday, or on any other day in Shrovetide. A potential dramatic performance is offered at the end of this pdf, and other kids’ activities are offered throughout the rest of the same pdf. You may also need to plan a location and games and dances, etc. Depending on who you plan to do it with, your plans may need to be made a long time in advance, which is why I’m offering you this information now.
  • Ingredients for Lenten Bread. (Required for any time between 18 Feb and 4 April.) These ingredients are usually just flour, water, and salt; however, you may either use your own Lenten bread recipe or the Dark Rye Bread recipe given by Maria Von Trapp in her book (https://www.ewtn.com/library/FAMILY/TRAPP.TXT) under “Lent.” Maria’s recipe involves several different kinds of flour that you might have to hunt for. You may use any recipe that does not use animal products such as milk or butter.
  • Ingredients for Pretzels. (Required for any time between 18 Feb and 4 April.) You have the option of making your own (soft, doughy) pretzels or buying some, so either buy the pretzels or buy the ingredients for them.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The calendar of events for February looks like this:

  • 1-17: Ordinary Time, cont., and Pre-Lent Season
  • 1: Septuagesima Sunday (first day of Pre-Lent Season)
  • 2: Candlemas (a.k.a., Feast of the Presentation of the Lord)
  • 6: Feast of Saint Paul Miki and Companions (JAPAN ONLY)
  • 8: Sexagesima Sunday
  • 14: Valentine’s Day
  • 15: Quinquagesima Sunday or Shrove Sunday
  • 18 Feb-2 April: Lent
  • 18 Feb: Ash Wednesday
  • 22 Feb – 1 Mar: Ember Week—Ember Days are 25 Feb (Wed), 27 Feb (Fri), and 28 Feb (Sat)
  • 29: Feria (only on leap years, which means not this year)

 

じゃあまたね!

Christian Traditions 004: Feast of the Conversion of Paul

Von Trapp Follow-Along: Maria makes no mention of this feast.

INTRODUCTION:

The last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (25 January) coincides with this feast, the Feast of the Conversion of Paul.

25 January 2015WHEN IS IT?

Like the Feast of the Confession of Peter, this is an immovable feast—that is, a holiday set to a certain date, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Christmas is an example of an immovable feast, because it always occurs on December 25. Easter is an example of a movable feast, because its date depends on the spring equinox.

 

 

conversion of paulWHAT IS IT?

Also known as St. Paul’s Day, this feast is celebrated by Catholic, some Orthodox, and some Protestant churches. In England, it used to function much like America’s groundhog day. Fine weather on this day was supposed to predict good harvests and poor weather was supposed to predict pestilence and war. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that it is a feast of relatively recent origin, but does not give an approximate date or even century. It also states that it may have been first created to commemorate the transport of Pauline relics, similar to how the Feast of the Confession of Peter originally commemorated the relic of Peter’s chair.

Similarly to how the Feast of the Confession of Peter commemorates an important event in the life of the apostle Peter, this feast commemorates the same for Paul: specifically, his conversion to Christianity. Prior to his conversion, Saul (also known as Paul; Saul and Paul are Greek versions of the Hebrew Shaul) was a very zealous Pharisee (Acts 26:5), and trained as a young person by one of the best, a rabbi named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He sharply persecuted Christians, throwing men and women alike into prison in large numbers (Acts 8:3). The first mention of him is in Acts 7:57-8:3, where he is described as consenting to Stephen the Martyr’s execution and holding the coats of his fellow Jews while they stoned Stephen to death. Paul also described his Pharisaical zeal and persecution of the church in Galatians 1:13-14.

Intending to arrest more Christians in Damascus, Saul procured letters to Damascus and the synagogues from the high priest permitting him to arrest and bring in chains to Jerusalem any Christians he found on the trip (Acts 9:1-2). However, on the road to Damascus, a bright light shone around him and Jesus spoke to him; when the light disappeared, Saul discovered he was blind. He continued into Damascus with the help of his men, met a Christian named Ananias, and converted to Christianity, simultaneously regaining his sight. He then began preaching Christ in the synagogues at Damascus and so angering the Jews that they sought to kill him. His fellow Christians then helped him escape the city by setting him in a basket and lowering him over the walls of the city by night. (Acts 9:3-25; see also I Corinthians 15:3-8, Galatians 1:11-16) He became one of the most significant early Christians, writing about half of the books in the New Testament of the Bible (see Footnote 1).

calendarLOOKING AHEAD

The Feast of the Confession of Peter (18 January) and the Feast of the Conversion of Paul (25 January) celebrate important events in the lives of these two apostles. In June, we will commemorate their martyrdom in the Feast of Peter and Paul (29 June).

STANDARD ACTIVITIES

Like the Feast of the Confession of Peter, I could find no traditional activities other than Scripture reading and prayer.

  • (Traditional) Scripture Reading.  Read the story of Saul/Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-25). (See Footnote 2.)
  • Kids’ Activities.  There are no particular crafts associated with this feast. If you have children, you may provide them with coloring pages like this one.
  • Reflection / Study Questions.  Answer the following questions.
    • Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? If so, how did it happen?
    • The Holy Spirit and Saul’s sight both came to him only after Ananias put his hands on him and spoke to him (Acts 9:17-18). Do you think this was a unique case or do you think this story gives us more information about the process of salvation?
  • (Traditional) Prayer.  Pray the following prayer or use it to guide your own prayer.
    • “O God, Who taught the whole world / through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, / draw us, we pray, nearer to You / through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, / and so make us witnesses to Your truth in the world.”
  • Fasting.  (Optional) After receiving Jesus’ instruction to continue to Damascus and wait to be told what to do next (Acts 9:6), Saul continued into the city and refused to eat or drink for three days (Acts 9:9) until Ananias came to him and Saul accepted Christ and received his sight, whereupon he resumed eating and drinking (Acts 9:17-19). This period of emotional and physical suffering coupled undoubtedly with prayer was critical to “crucify the old man” (Romans 6:5-7), that is, the fleshly and sinful desires, and prepare Saul to accept and dedicate his life to the Lord. You have a couple options:
    • Type of Fast: Absolute Fast (no food or water; although this is what Saul did, I don’t recommend this as abstaining from liquids can be very dangerous); a Complete Fast (no food, but plenty of water; this is generally considered a safe fast); or a Partial Fast (abstain from certain foods—for example, consuming only fruit juices for the duration of the fast, or only abstaining from sugar; this is the type of fast usually engaged in for Lent). Note that fasting from all food or doing a more severe partial fast (such as drinking only fruit juices) for multiple days helps your body cleanse itself of toxins. However, these toxins have to go somewhere. So if you’re not drinking enough water, the toxins may build up, especially in your kidneys, rather than being flushed out.
    • Length of Fast: Saul’s fast lasted three days; you may consider fasting only the day of this feast (ignore the irony for the moment) or fasting for three days like Saul did. If you’re planning to engage in a Complete Fast (see above) for the first time, I recommend only doing one day. It’s easiest to do it by skipping dinner the night before and eating dinner the day of. This translates to a 24-hour fast, but your worst hunger pangs will occur late at night so you sleep through them.
    • Activity During Fast: Spiritually, your activity should involve lots of prayer and meditation. Consider praying prayers of your creation, unique to your situation, possibly using the above prayer as a guide to content. For “meditation,” read and really consider some passages from the Bible. I highly recommend Romans 6, written by Paul, which talks about our relationship with sin, the law, and God’s grace specifically in reference to Christ’s sacrifice since it’s very fitting for a time of fasting; however, you should study whatever you feel God is leading you to study. Also understand that if you have to work or go to school on these days, you should do so and meditate whenever you’re free to. If you choose a Complete Fast (see above), you may need to reduce your physical activity, depending on the length of the fast and your usual activity.
    • First Educate Yourself and Prepare! Campus Crusade for Christ has some good instructions on how to fast, including what medical conditions may preclude fasting and how to prepare both spiritually and physically, among other helpful topics. Their physical preparation guide explains that it’s better to eat smaller meals prior to fasting rather than having that “last big feast” before the fast; recommends weaning from caffeine and sugar products prior to the fast to east discomfort during the fast; and notes that some health professionals recommend eating only raw foods for two days prior to the fast.
basket

my basket

KNIT AND CROCHET ACTIVITIES

After his conversion, Paul had to escape Damascus by a unique method. His fellow Christians placed him in a basket and lowered him over the wall. You can read the story in Acts 9:22-25. So the knit/crochet ornament for this feast is a basket!

  • Knitting Pattern: “Yarn Basket Ornament” by Scarlet Taylor (here). (Note: make only the basket, not the yarn balls and knitting needles. As written, the pattern instructs for a basket that measures 3″ x 3.5″. To make the basket stiffer and smaller, I knitted with US7 needles rather than US9, knitted the body 2″ rather than 2.5″, and knitted the handle 3″ rather than 4″. The end result is approximately 2.5″ x 3″.)
  • Crochet Pattern: “Basket Weave Easter Basket” by Elizabeth Ann Smith (here). (Note: create only the basket, not the eggs.)

 

じゃあまたね!

 

FOOTNOTES

Footnote 1: Paul as Author of Half the New Testament Books. The Bible is divided into two parts: Old Testament (written before Christ) and New Testament (written after Christ). The New Testament has 27 books of varying lengths, ranging from 1 chapter with 13 verses (II John) to 28 chapters (Matthew and Acts). Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 13 (48%) were written or dictated by Paul.

Footnote 2: Special Reading. When speaking to Saul, Jesus makes a statement that is difficult for us to understand: “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” or “kick against the goad” (Acts 9:5). The Pulpit Commentary, which is old enough to be freely available online, explains (see note under Acts 26:14 here [http://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/acts/26.htm]) that this is an ancient proverb referring to a bull being trained to pull a cart refusing to submit and kicking against the “pricks” or “goads” (sharp sticks or cattle prods used to encourage the animal to move forward). When the bull fights the goad, he only hurts himself rather than making any gains against the person holding the goad. The only way to help himself and prevent being hurt is to submit to the goad. The proverb’s intent is to symbolize a person wrestling against or resisting a superior power. In this case, the proverb means that Saul will not succeed against the superior power of God and therefore must submit or else continue to resist to his own hurt.

5 More Things I Love About Japan

Previously, I wrote a list of 5 things I love about Japan, 5 things I love-hate about Japan, and 5 things I hate about Japan. I thought it was about time to add another 5 things to the list!

  1. Toilets Never Get Stopped Up. At least, I’ve never seen a toilet get stopped up in Japan. This was my biggest household frustration in the U.S. (largely because I hate both toilets and excrement—I’m not a complete germophobe, but I’ve always hated these things, and a stopped-up toilet is like a trifecta of putridity) but something I don’t have to deal with here. Seriously, when I move back to the States, I want to bring a Japanese toilet with me!
  2. Convenience Stores. They have complete meals and microwaves so you can heat the meal you just purchased. They also have some commonly-required items like eggs, milk, and butter. Of course, all of this is also true of grocery stores, but convenience stores are on virtually every corner and are usually open 24 hours. Furthermore, you can even pay your bills at convenience stores! Just walk in, hand them your electric bill and some cash, and they’ll pay it for you! Convenience stores (or コンビニ “konbini,” as they call them) truly are convenient.
  3. Museums. Children often have free admission and adults pay far less than they would in the United States. For example, the museum at Ueno Park has free admission for children aged 18 and under, and only 600 JPY (about $6) admission for adults.
  4. Exercise. There’s no need to go to the gym because you WALK EVERYWHERE. My brother had a professor that we both loved. He was cool, fun, hilarious, geeky like us, and reminded us very much of a close family friend. He hailed from New York and told us that moving to Texas was like moving to The Land of the Obese. He talked about how Texans don’t walk anywhere—they drive. We defended that tendency due to the lack of public transportation, which itself is due to the vast spread of the state. Even in New York State, public transportation primarily exists in urban centers, not suburban or rural (which makes up the vast majority of Texas’s land area). Nevertheless, it’s true that in areas where people walk more, people also tend to be more fit, and that’s definitely true of Japan. After only three months of living here, my BMI dropped 5.3 points (28 pounds) from the upper end of normal weight to underweight. I certainly wasn’t eating any better or trying to lose weight; it just happened. (Interestingly, I’m still chunky in comparison to the Japanese women here. It must be their genetics! How can anyone be so thin?? I’m so ethnocentric…)
  5. Shipping. Domestic shipping in Japan is often free for a minimum purchase, and the minimum purchase is usually pretty low—like, 3,000 JPY (about $30—I think the minimum in the U.S. is at least $50). There was one weird incident that involved the cash-based society more than it did the shipping policies… We ordered a Christmas gift for someone online and rather than paying immediately, we were informed that the item would arrive with a bill, which we are to take to the local convenience store or bank to make payment. But anyway, the shipping is pretty awesome. And if the post office screws something up, they’ll make it right, give you a complete refund, and may even give you a gift in apology.

Christian Traditions 003: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Von Trapp Follow-Along: Maria makes no mention of this octave.

INTRODUCTION:

There are two special occurrences on January 18 (tomorrow): the Feast of the Confession of Peter and the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Because they both fall on the same day and because I don’t think people would want to read a really long blog post about both, I split it into two posts. The first, about the Feast of the Confession of Peter, I published yesterday. The second, about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I’m publishing today.

Because there are eight days in this event, the activities section of this post is very long. But don’t worry, the majority of this admittedly very long post is just activities for every day of the event. Skip to the very end for the Knit and Crochet Activities.

18-25 January 2015WHEN IS IT?

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is held from 18 January through 25 January every year, regardless of the days of the week on which the dates fall. This commemoration is an octave, meaning it’s a “weeklong” event that actually lasts eight days. In fact, it was initially known as the Octave of Christian Unity. It was specifically set to begin on the Feast of the Confession of Peter (also called the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter) and end on the Feast of the Conversion of Paul. For this reason, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was also briefly known as the Chair of Unity Octave. In the Southern Hemisphere, January is summer and so vacation time. Because of this, churches have to be very creative in their scheduling of the week of prayer. In some cases, it is scheduled around Pentecost because this event, which takes place in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, is also symbolic of unity for the church. Nevertheless, most Christian groups which observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity do so on the official dates of 18 January through 25 January.

woman at the wellWHAT IS IT?

The “Octave of Christian Unity” was proposed by Father Paul Wattson of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars (a convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism) and first adopted in 1908. The idea was blessed by Pope Pius X and encouraged by Benedict XV.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an octave (see above) with a focus on prayer for church unity. Briefly, Wattson renamed it the “Chair of Unity Octave” in order to emphasize the relationship between Christian unity and the papacy (office of the pope). In other words, it focused on the concept that Christian unity can only be achieved through the pope.

In 1935, Abbé Paul Couturier, the father of spiritual ecumenism, suggested that the prayer should focus on unity in accordance with Christ’s will and with the means He wills, rather than on the papacy, so as to allow and encourage the participation of Christians from every non-Catholic denomination—that is, denominations of Christianity that hold differing views about the papacy. This fits with Jesus’ prayer that His disciples “be one so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Couturier further proposed changing the name to the “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” The Catholic Church finally accepted this proposal over 30 years later, in 1966. Nevertheless, by 1948, other churches of various denominations around the world had already begun to recognize and practice the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

In 1958, a French Catholic group called Unité Chrétienne and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) began jointly preparing materials for the Week of Prayer. In 1968, the materials prepared jointly by the Faith and Order Commission and a group representing the entire Catholic Church called the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were officially used for the first time. These materials are still jointly produced every year by the Pontifical Council and the WCC through the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order. Every year, the text is written to focus on a theme and is combed carefully afterward by both organizations to ensure the text can be prayed by Christians across the world. The materials are actually prepared well ahead of time; in fact, the materials for 2015 were completed in September 2012. It is published by the Commission on Faith and Order in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, though churches around the world are encouraged to translate and adapt it for their own use.

calendarLOOKING AHEAD

As mentioned above, another Christian event associated with and symbolic of Christian unity is Pentecost. This year, Pentecost will fall on May 24 (Sunday).

STANDARD ACTIVITIES

The English version of the Commission on Faith and Order’s text mentioned above, “Resources for The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Throughout the Year” (forthwith referred to simply as “Resources”), is available in pdf format here. This year’s text was also co-authored by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil. The introduction at the link above explains: “The biblical gesture of offering water to whomever arrives, as a way of welcoming and sharing, is something that is repeated in all regions of Brazil. The proposed study and meditation on the story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at the well is to help people and communities to realize the dialogical dimension of the project of Jesus, which we call the Kingdom of God.” (Honestly, I’ve read that last sentence about a million times and I still don’t know what it means. Any ideas?)

This year’s theme is John 4:7—“Jesus said to her: ‘Give me to drink.’ ”

The “Resources” text provides instructions on both the church service commemorating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and individual study and prayer for each of the eight days of the octave. The church service instructions may be omitted, adapted for individual use, or utilized in a group setting, such as your family, your Sunday School or Bible Study group, or even a classroom where appropriate. I’ve divided and adapted the instructions below. Technically, everything is optional, but I got tired of putting “Optional” at the beginning of every instruction, so please understand I intend for you to adapt it to your preferences and belief system, as the original authors also intended. Recall that the purpose of this whole octave and the “Resources” is to promote Christian unity, not to divide by creating an instructional booklet that only a few groups of Christians can actually use, so it has always been understood that each Christian and each church or denomination will adapt it as necessary.

CHURCH SERVICE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Scripture Reading. Read John 4:1-42. This passage tells the story of Jesus’ request for water from the Samaritan woman at the well. This passage is the foundation of this year’s theme. The passage is copied word-for-word in “Resources” (pp. 3-4), or you may read it from your own Bible.
  • Lesson Reading. Read the introduction in “Resources” (pp. 5-8) explaining the choice of John 4:7 as the theme. Alternatively, you may read the abbreviated explanation I wrote (see Footnote 2).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. “Jesus deliberately chose to cross Samaria on his way to Judea in Galilee. His route passed by the well of the Samaritan woman who came there to draw water. [… You can] use these two symbols of the route and water as images of the visible Christian unity for which we pray.” (“Resources,” p. 10) Answer the following questions:
    • “Which is the path of unity, the route we should take, so that the world may drink from the source of life, Jesus Christ?”
    • “Which is the path of unity that gives proper respect to our diversity?” (From “Resources,” p. 10.)
  • Prayer/Responsive Reading. If you have children or a small group (e.g., Sunday School or Bible Study group, or a very small church), read aloud the following responsive reading. Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today. (C = Celebrant; L = Lectern; A = All. In churches I’ve attended, we don’t have C or L. I don’t even know what they are. If you’re in a similar boat or in a family or small group, consider for families having each parent read one part and the parents and kids together read A parts, or for small groups having each leader or each member read one part and the whole group together read A parts.)
    • L: “Almighty God, breathe into us the wind of unity that recognizes our diversity,”
    • A: “Breathe into us tolerance that welcomes and makes us community,”
    • L: “Breathe into us fire that unites what is torn apart and heals what is ill,”
    • A: “Breathe into us grace that overcomes hatred and frees us from violence,”
    • L: “Breathe into us life that faces down and defeats death,”
    • A: “Blessed be the God of mercy, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and makes all things new. Amen!” (From “Resources,” p. 14.)
  • Prayer/Responsive Reading. If you have children or a small group, read aloud the following responsive reading. Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today. (See notes above.)
    • C: “In humility, as children of God and sisters and brothers in Christ, we receive God’s mercy and respond to God’s call to make new all relationships.”
    • L: “Merciful Lord, your Spirit hovered over the waters where diversity sprouted and flourished. We confess our difficulty to live with legitimate differences. Forgive us those attitudes of mind, words and actions that do violence to unity in diversity.”
    • A: “O Lord, have mercy upon us…”
    • L: “Merciful Christ, grace and joy of the multitude, listener and teacher, you give birth to new visions of hope and heal the wounds of mind and body. We confess that we have failed to listen to voices different from our own, failed to say words that bring healing and hope, and we have perpetuated exclusive attitudes to those who cry out for solidarity and fellowship.”
    • A: “O Lord, have mercy upon us…”
    • L: “Merciful Lord, you are the source of all creation, the Eternal and life-giving Word. We confess that we do not listen to your creation that groans and cries out for liberation and renewal. Help us to walk together and to hear your voice in all living things that suffer and yearn for healing and care.”
    • C: “O God, fountain of mercy and grace, pour over us your pardon. May your love transform us into a source of living waters to restore the strength of your people. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.”
    • A: “Amen.” (From “Resources,” pp. 14-15.)
  • Prayer/Responsive Reading. If you have children or a small group, read aloud the following responsive reading. Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today. (See notes above.)
    • L: God of eternal compassion, as individuals and as community, we ask for light, so we may become more welcoming and understanding towards others and reduce the suffering in our world.
    • A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
    • L: God of eternal compassion, teach your children that charity, hospitality and unity are expressions of your revelation and will for humanity.
    • A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
    • L: God of eternal compassion, we beseech you, grant us peace; teach us and guide us to be builders of a tolerant and non-violent world.
    • A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
    • L: God of eternal compassion, who spoke to us through creation, then through the prophets and then through your Son Jesus Christ, grant us wisdom to listen to your voice that calls us to unity in our diversity.
    • A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
    • L: God of eternal compassion, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord who as a stranger asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman, give us living water, springing up unto eternal life.
    • A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry! (From “Resources,” p. 18.)
  • If you have children or a small group, read aloud the following prayer (all together, in parts, or the parent/leader alone). Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today.
    • “We learn from Jesus to offer our lives as a sign of love and compassion. God, may we become living offerings dedicated to the ministry of your Word and grace. God, who are with us and walk in our midst, grant us this day the grace of your light and Spirit so that we may continue our mission and remain faithful to welcoming and listening to all, even those who are different from ourselves. Take away the violence that is in our hearts and the discriminating attitudes that exclude and devalue the human dignity of others. Enable our churches to be welcoming spaces where feast and forgiveness, joy and tenderness, strength and faith become our daily practice, our daily food, our daily movement forward in Jesus Christ. Amen.” (From “Resources,” p. 19.)
  • Blessing/Benediction. If you have children or a small group, read aloud the following blessing (all together, in parts, or the parent/leader alone). Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today.
    • “May the Lord God, / bless you and protect you / fill your heart with tenderness and your soul with joy, / your ears with music and your nostrils with perfume, / your tongue with song giving face to hope.
    • “May Jesus Christ the living water be / behind you to protect you, / before you to guide you, / by your side to accompany you, / within you to console you, / above you to bless you.
    • “May the life-giving Spirit / breathe into you that your thoughts may be holy, / act in you so that your work is holy, / draw your heart so that you love what is holy, / strengthen you that you will defend what is holy. / May [H]e make [H]is home in your heart, / water its dryness, and melt its coldness, / kindle in your innermost soul the fire of [H]is love / and bestow upon you a true faith, and firm hope, and a sincere and perfect love.
    • “Amen.” (From “Resources,” pp. 19-20.)
  • Final Prayer. If you have children or a small group, read aloud (the leader alone or the group together) the following final prayer. Alternatively, use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1) for today.
    • “May God, who teaches us to welcome each other and calls us to practice hospitality, grant us peace and serenity as we move forward on the path of Christian Unity. As we go in the peace of Christ let us share with each other the sign of peace.” (From “Resources,” p. 20.)

INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTIONS

Day 1, 18 January 2015, Sunday: Proclamation: “It is necessary to go through Samaria” (John 4:4)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Genesis 24:10-33
    • Psalm 42
    • II Corinthians 8:1-7
    • John 4:1-4
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 1 (pp. 21-22).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “What does it mean for me and my community of faith ‘to have to go through Samaria’?”
    • “What are the steps that my church has made to meet other churches and what have the churches learned from each other?” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 22.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “God of all peoples, / teach us to go through Samaria / to meet our brothers and sisters from other churches. / Allow us to go there with an open heart / so we may learn from every church and culture. / We confess that You are the source of unity. / Grant us the unity that Christ wills for us. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 22.)

Day 2, 19 January 2015, Monday: Denunciation I: “Tired of the journey, Jesus sat down facing the well” (John 4:6)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Genesis 29:1-14
    • Psalm 137
    • I Corinthians 1:10-18
    • John 4:5-6
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 2 (pp. 22-23).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “What are the main reasons for competition among our churches?”
    • “Are we able to identify a common ‘well’ upon which we can lean, and rest from our disputes and competitions?” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 23.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “Gracious God, / Often our churches are led to choose the logic of competition. / Forgive our sin of presumption. / We are weary from this need to be first. Allow us to rest at the well. / Refresh us with the water of unity drawn from our common prayer. / May Your Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos / bring unity from our diversity. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 22.)

Day 3, 20 January 2015, Tuesday: Denunciation II: “I have no husband” (John 4:17)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • II Kings 17:24-34
    • Psalm 139:1-12
    • Romans 7:1-4
    • John 4:16-19
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 3 (pp. 23-24).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “What are the sinful structures that we can identify in our own communities?”
    • “What is the place and the role of women in our churches?”
    • “What can our churches do to prevent violence and to overcome violence directed against women and girls?” (From “Resources,” p. 24.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “O You who are beyond all things, / how could we call You by any other name? / What song could be sung for You? / No word can express You. / What Spirit can perceive You? / No intelligence can comprehend You. / You alone are inexpressible; / all that is said has come from You. / You alone are unknowable; / all that is thought has come from you. / All creatures proclaim you, / those who speak and those who are dumb. / Every one desires You, everyone sighs and aspires after You. / All that exists prays to You, / and every being that can contemplate Your universe raises to You a silent hymn. / Have pity on us, You who are beyond all things. / How could we call You by any other name? / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 22.)

Day 4, 21 January 2015, Wednesday: Renunciation: “Then the woman left her water jar” (John 4:28)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Genesis 11:31-12:4
    • Psalm 23
    • Acts 10:9-20
    • John 4:25-28
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 4 (p. 25).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “Meeting Jesus demands that we leave behind our water jars. What are those water jars for us?”
    • “What are the main difficulties that prevent us from doing so?” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 25.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “Loving God, / help us to learn from Jesus and the Samaritan / that the encounter with the other opens for us new horizons of grace. / Help us to break through our limits and embrace new challenges. / Help us to go beyond fear in following the call of Your Son. / In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 25.)

Day 5, 22 January 2015, Thursday

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Genesis 46:1-7
    • Psalm 133
    • Acts 2:1-11
    • John 4:7-15
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 5 (pp. 26-27).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “Do you remember situations in which your church has helped another church or has been helped by another church?”
    • “Are there reservations on the part of your church to accepting help from another church? How can these reservations be overcome?” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 26.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “God, spring of the Living water, / help us to understand that the more we join together the pieces of our ropes, / the more deeply our buckets reach into Your divine waters! / Awaken us to the truth that the gifts of the other / are an expression of Your unfathomable mystery. / And make us sit at the well together / to drink from Your water / which gathers us in unity and peace. / We ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, / Who asked the Samaritan woman to give Him water for His thirst. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” pp. 26-27.)

Day 6, 23 January 2015, Friday: Testimony: “Jesus said: ‘The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ ” (John 4:14)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Exodus 2:15-22
    • Psalm 91
    • I John 4:16-21
    • John 4:11-15
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 6 (pp. 27-28).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “How do you interpret Jesus’ words that through him we may become ‘a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (John 4:14)?”
    • “Where do you see Christian people being springs of living water for you and for others?”
    • “Which are the situations in public life to which the churches should speak with a single voice in order to be springs of living water?” (From “Resources,” p. 27.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “Triune God, / following the example of Jesus, / make us witnesses to Your love. / Grant us to become instruments of justice, peace and solidarity. / May Your Spirit move us towards concrete actions that lead to unity. / May walls be transformed into bridges. / This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 28.)

Day 7, 24 January 2015, Saturday: Testimony: “Give me to drink” (John 4:7)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Numbers 20:1-11
    • Psalm 119:10-20
    • Romans 15:2-7
    • John 4:7-15
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 7 (pp. 29-30).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “How has your understanding and experience of God been enriched by encounters with other Christians?
    • “What can Christian communities learn from indigenous wisdom and other religious traditions in your region?” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 29.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer (see Footnote 1).
    • “God of life, Who cares for all creation, and calls us to justice and peace, / may our security not come from arms, but from respect. / May our force not be of violence, but of love. / May our wealth not be in money, but in sharing. / May our path not be of ambition, but of justice. / May our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness. / May our unity not be in the quest of power, / but in vulnerable witness to do Your will. / Open and confident, may we defend the dignity of all creation, / sharing, today and forever, the bread of solidarity, justice and peace. / This we ask in the name of Jesus, Your holy Son, our Brother, / Who, as victim of our violence, even from the heights of the cross, / gave forgiveness to us all. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 30.)

Day 8, 25 January 2015, Sunday: Witness: “Many believed because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39)

  • Scripture Reading. Read the following passages.
    • Exodus 3:13-15
    • Psalm 30
    • Romans 10:14-17
    • John 4:27-30, 39-40
  • Lesson Reading. Read the lesson provided in “Resources” for Day 8 (pp. 30-31).
  • Reflection/Study Questions. Answer the following questions.
    • “What is the relationship between unity and mission?”
    • “Do you know people in your community whose life story is a witness to unity?” (From “Resources,” p. 31.)
  • Prayer. Pray the following prayer or use it as a guide for your own prayer*.
    • “God, spring of living water, / Make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives. / Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well, / And give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another. / Transform our hearts and our lives / So that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News. / And lead us always to the encounter with the other, / As an encounter with You. / We ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, / In the unity of the Holy Spirit. / Amen.” (Adapted from “Resources,” p. 31.)

cross of unityKNITTING AND CROCHET ACTIVITIES

The knit/crochet activity involves creating two rings looped together, and then creating a cross to stitch into the connecting loop, thus symbolizing how different groups of Christians are unified in Christ.

  • Knitting Patterns: “Cross of Unity” by Schaabling Shire Shoppe (here). (Note: Again, I couldn’t find the exact sort of pattern I was looking for, so I had to make one. Hope you enjoy!)
  • Crochet Patterns: “Crochet Christmas Sphere #1” by Edgar Gonzales (Garo) (here). (Note: create two rings minus the ornament topper for this activity) and “Christian Cross” by Suzanne Alise” (here). Note: I found information on the size of the cross, which measures 4” x 6.25” when finished, so much larger than I intended since all ornaments should be approximately 3” at the largest measurement (length/width/diameter), so you may have to adjust the number of stitches to get the appropriate size. Furthermore, I could not find any information on the size of the rings, so I don’t know whether they complement the cross. Let me know if you find better patterns by commenting below.)

 

じゃあまたね!

 

FOOTNOTES

Footnote 1: On Prayer. Some groups of Christians recite memorized prayers. Others point to Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:7 (“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”) as indicating that we should pray with purpose rather than with memorized or repetitious words. (They also point out that two verses later, when Jesus introduces the Lord’s Prayer, He says, “After this manner therefore pray…” rather than “With these exact words therefore pray…”) If you are of a group that uses memorized or set or written prayers, do so in this case. If you are of a group that chooses to “pray with purpose,” use these written prayers as a guide as to content for your own prayer.

Footnote 2: Abbreviated Introduction. God in human form as Christ asks the Samaritan woman for water (John 4:7); simultaneously, God comes to us and offers us living water (John 4:14).

“The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman invites us to try water from a different well and also to offer a little of our own. In diversity, we enrich each other. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a privileged moment for prayer, encounter and dialogue. It is an opportunity to recognize the richness and value that are present in the other, the different, and to ask God for the gift of unity.”

The Biblical gesture of offering water to whomever comes along is a way of welcoming and sharing. The text of John 4:1-42 demonstrates the importance of understanding your own identity so as not to feel threatened by another’s unique identity and to be capable of recognizing how the other’s uniqueness complements your own: “alone, a person or culture is not enough!” Jesus’ words “give Me to drink” symbolizes complementarity in that drinking “from someone else’s well is the first step towards experiencing another’s way of being. This leads to an exchange of gifts that enriches. Where the gifts of the other are refused much damage is done to society and to the Church.” In other words, sharing the experiences of someone who differs from us enriches our own experience; “persons, communities, cultures, religions and ethnicities need each other.”

The phrase “give Me to drink” also “implies an ethical action that recognises the need for one another in living out the Church’s mission. It compels us to change our attitude, to commit ourselves to seek unity in the midst of our diversity, through our openness to a variety of forms of prayer and Christian spirituality.”

The introduction goes on to describe the religious context in Brazil. It explains how Brazil was once known as a country where relations between people of various social and ethnic backgrounds met with cordiality. However, in spite of the high number of people (86.8% of the population) claiming to be Christian, growing intolerance had led to high levels of violence against certain minorities and vulnerable groups.

The introduction concludes with a description of “the journey”: “The journey we are proposing for the coming eight days starts with proclamation, which leads to denunciation, renunciation, and witness. The week starts with the proclamation of a God who has created us in his own image, that is the image of the Triune God, unity in diversity. Diversity is part of God’s design. Next, some situations of sin which introduce unjust discrimination are denounced. Thirdly, the renunciation of those sinful attitudes which exclude marks a step towards the unity of God’s Kingdom. Lastly, we bear witness to the graciousness of God who is always willing to welcome us despite our imperfection, and whose Holy Spirit impels us towards reconciliation and unity. [….]”