The burning of Palm Crosses on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

On Sunday 19 February, invite parishioners to bring their palm cross from last year and burn them on Sunday 26 February.
Whether a parish undertakes such practice will depend on the local situation. Adequate adult supervision is required if children will be present.
It is helpful to provide a brief explanation of what is taking place and why. Over the years several people have commented they did not know where the ash came from.
Also many people do not like giving up their palm cross!


Shrove Tuesday:

Many parishes hold Pancake days or evenings. They often involve pancake races, pancake tossing competitions and an opportunity for the parish family to come together. This is great. However, this occasion is also and opportunity to:

provide information about the history of the day
[The name comes from "shriving which means to confess and seek forgiveness. Also many see this day as using up the eggs and flour to prepare themselves for their Lenten fast.]

briefly explain the purpose of fasting and prayer
[In the life of the early Church there were regular weekly fasts, with Wednesday and Friday being the days mentioned in the Didache. As a penitential practice fasting is designed to strengthen the spiritual life by weakening the attraction to pleasures. Scripture provides a number of references to fasting and prayer. When studying the lives of the saints we find that prayer and fasting go together.

The use of symbols during Lent:

When The General Board of Religious Education (GBRE) existed, they produced a booklet titled "Ashes to Fire". One of the suggestions was to use a symbol each week and the preacher could draw on the symbol in regard to preaching. Some suggested symbols are:

[We are born out of it, sustained by it, we drink it and we wash in it. Water can be powerful and mighty while at other times is can be gentle and soothing. Water is a symbol of death and resurrection; of new beginnings. Through water and the Spirit a new person is received into the Christian Community. Lent is a time to refocus on living into our baptismal promises.]

[Brings out flavour. While it has a taste of its own it losses it when it seasons food. It transfigures and becomes one with the food, just as we are called to become one in Christ.. ]

[Gives light, give heat, and provides warmth. Fire purifies and refines. Fires also symbolises for the Christian, the Spirit of God within her or him. Lent is a time to make sure we are in tune with God.]

the cross
[The cross was an instrument of execution. With Jesus' death it became a sign of contradiction. No longer a sign of infamy but a sign of the vulnerability of love. Lent is a time to ask ourselves are we showing God's love to this broken and divided world.]

[The wheat seed has to die in order to give life. After the wheat has grown it is then converted into flour. There are several processes from the head of the wheat to the loaf of bread. Many people are responsible for the production of what we sometimes refer to as a staple food, a food that sustains. At the Eucharist we gather to eat broken bread which symbolises our life, Christ's body. We come together to eat as the body of Christ. Lent is a time to ask ourselves are we just aiming "to get the product" rather than being involved with the process of "get there"?

palm branches
[This is an interesting symbol for us in Australia. In Palestine the palm tree marks an oasis. The palm branch reminds us of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It reminds us that Christ's glory and that his cross is also our glory. Lent can be a time of oasis in our busy and demanding lives]

the Bible
[Many Australians enjoy travel. Australians make journeys. The Bible contains the journeys, the travels of many people, but it is also the story of God working in and through people. The Bible tells the Christian story and during Lent we study this story, the journey, and enrich our own journeys of faith. ]

christening gown
[The christening gown, like the alb, reminds us that in baptism we are joined to Christ. The gown also reminds us that Christ is present in the world and we are Christ's agents. Through baptism, we are called to show the transfiguring love of Christ to the world and that "We are the Body of Christ." So often the Lenten focus is individual, but there a "Body of Christ" reality as well.

[A lump of clay does not shape itself, it is dependant on another's activity. We are like clay. We shape ourselves, others shape us as well as God reforming and reshaping us. During Lent the Church is being reformed. During Lent we seek to reshape ourselves in the likeness of Christ.

[Oil heals, soothes skin, protects skin, loosen stiff muscles and moisturises skin. Oil keeps machinery moving, and can be used to provide heat. In the Old Testament oil anoints and symbolises leadership. Healing is used for healing. Oil is also a sign of dedication to God. Lent is a time to renew our dedication to God.]

[Without light we can not see. Jesus identifies himself as the light. He gives sight to the blind, and enables those in darkness to see. Light and darkness represent good and evil, life and death. As baptised people we are called to move from darkness to the fullness of light in Christ. Lent is about movement, about movement in being a light for Christ.]

Grapes and Wine
[Wine does not just happen. The vine has to be nourished, pruned and watered for growth. The grapes have to be picked, crushed, fermented before they become the product we use to celebrate. Lent is like the process from planting the vine to the enjoying the celebration of life with the wine at Easter. As Christians we not only drink the wine, we share in the cup of salvation. We are empowered. Lent a time for being empowered.]

Please don't be limited by this list. Select your own symbols that speak to your community.

The Fourth Sunday in Lent also known as Mothering Sunday or Refreshment Sunday

Today is called Refreshment Sunday because there is a relaxation of the Lenten discipline and the sharing of simnel cake.
The day is known as Mothering Sunday for three reasons:
i) in some parts of England the young lads who worked in the mines or factories were allowed a day to visit their mother on this day
ii) second in some places people visited the mother Church, the Cathedral
iii) in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) the Epistle reading from Galatians refers to Jerusalem as the mother of us all. "But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above, she is free, and she is our mother." (Galatians 4:26)

Simnel Cake for Mothering Sunday or the Fourth Sunday of Lent)

(My mother's traditional recipe)

60g self raising flour
200g plain flour
250g pale brown sugar
250g sultanas
250g currants
250g raisins
125g mixed peel
_ teaspoon salt
250g butter
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of sherry if desired

sift flour, sugar and salt
cream butter and sugar and add eggs, one at a time
add flour mixture and fruit alternatively (This should make a moist mixture line tin
add half the cake mixture and smooth layer the almond paste
add the rest of the cake mixture
place paper over top of mixture
bake in a moderate oven for two and a quarter to two and half hours
take paper off half an hour before cooking is completed
leave to cool

Almond paste:

180g caster sugar
180g almond meal
1 small egg

OR about a third of a pack of almond meal
stir over heat and allow to cool

Palm Sunday.

A sermon idea.

Make a palm cross and tell the story of salvation.

[There are two ways of making a Palm cross. Some times it is made with one piece of palm alone. Another way is commencing with one piece of palm and using the two pieces after the central stem has been removed. This is the method I am using here. ]

1. Commence with one piece of palm; there is one God whom we serve
2. Remove the centre vein. Removing this reminds that sin separates us from God.
3. To restore our relationship with God we need to confess our sin; explain confession. Confession is like making the knot, it has to be deliberate.
4. We confess our sin because Jesus died for us on Good Friday and that was not the end because he rose on Easter Day. See palm cross entry.