Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ash Wednesday

Last night after the raucous feast for Shrove Tuesday, and all the western and/or Gospel music, we had a small meeting to start the study of the history of Anglicanism and the Bible.  It is being taught by an American Episcopalian theologian, and we are doing the course on-line.  It is really, really interesting for something that sounds very dull.  I had thought the King James Bible just happened after the King decreed that the common people needed a book of scriptures written in the vernacular.  I knew King James had ordered a crew of scholars to write the English version of 1611.  Actually there were hundreds of years of arguments and quibbles before that enlightenment.  The final KJV  was like a British Christmas Fruitcake, with influences in it from Geneva and Lutherans, and Jewish scholars, and the RC Vulgate scholars and the Great Bible and ...and.... and..... Don't forget Gutenburg or Queen Elizabeth 1.                                                                                                             
 Anne Bolyne had a big influence too.  Where is her head buried?

I was amused that Humanists, who weren't even Christians necessarily, but were fantastic scholars and linguists,  helped translate from the Hebrew and Greek and Latin versions.   Cranmer would be shocked or maybe delighted at this advertisement asking for more funding for bible translations in many common languages.

As a child, I used to think God wrote the bible one day out in the desert of Sinai or somewhere "over there" on the other side of the world.   He was having a kind of picnic with a lot of recording/journalling, so as to tell us how to behave.  Maybe I was partly right.  It is enlightening to find out about the struggles that happened over the centuries and the influences from the rest of the world that helped to birth the KJV.   It is also liberating to realize that this great literature and precious scripture, is a living entity that grows and adapts and is by no means static.  Its' thoughts and mandates can not be boxed in forever in one spot.   They are too BIG for small minds.  OOPs time to get off of my soap box.  But I really am looking forward to more readings and discussions.  Thank you King James for your part in the long journey of scriptural awareness.

Lent did start today.  The mood in the world is quieter in our village but also friendlier, but that may have been because the sun was shining and folk were out getting an airing.  There were more handicapped out in the sunshine using the sidewalks today, and I was included.

I managed to get in 3 walks today as I also had to go over to the church for the Ash Wednesday evening gathering.  What a difference there was in the tone as compared to the raucous talking and music last night at the Fat Tuesday dinner.  I didn't manage to get all the way home without smudging my forehead cross, made of last year's burned left-overs from palm leaves given out at Palm Sunday 2012.  

The presider mixes the ashes with olive oil.

This was an evening for quiet contemplation and 'being still'.  

Lent is the season of daily

1. prayer/meditation  
2.  fasting   
3. alms-giving.  

But in these modern days fasting can take the form of even talking more softly to everybody during Lent.  As a child we gave up candy or movies, but now we try to better our relationships.  What I learned from the reflection tonight was that if you give up anything for a few minutes to spend time with God, it is a form of fasting.  If you CHOOSE to not smoke/not drink/ not e-mail/ not do a pity-party/ not order fast food or not use a sharp tongue ..... and pray instead for 3 minutes or less/more,  then that is fasting for you.  Giving up anything that distracts you during Lent is a form of fasting, even for a minute that will bring you into communion with God.  That was a new concept to me.  It can also mean supporting folk emotionally, but not necessarily giving money as in alms as we thought of Lent in the Middle Ages.  We are a diverse people that GOD created.  Lent has never been so much fun.  The fun is in the learning component.


  1. Your Lenten season is blessed already!! It's so good to hear that you are getting out and are able to walk again!! I grew up on the KJV Bible, in the Methodist church. I must admit that I enjoy the newer language versions more, though the verses memorized as a child are still with me in the language of the KJV. Please continue to inform us!!

  2. Not that long before this the powers that be were still burning translators of the little books* at the stake. Did you read Hilary Mantel's wonderful novels about the Tudor era? You might enjoy this article:

    *Karen probably knows this. The word Bible comes from the Greek ta biblia, the little books.

    1. No I didn't know that but did know the history or punishments for smuggling in English tracts from across the sea in Europe. Tyndale was a fascinating man.

  3. Not sure what the comment above means . . . I had never thought of Shrove Tuesday/Lent as beginning spring before. But, as you will have seen in our walk on Thursday, the sun has begun to shine. So maybe it is. I haven't come across the custom of speaking more quietly and pleasantly during Lent. I like it! I will try to fast that way.