Monthly Archive for March, 2010

Lent 5 March 21, 2010

Isaiah 43:16-21                                                                  

Philippians 3:4b-14                                                            

John 12:1-8

 “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” – John 12:8

I am tired. The other day I was visiting with an old friend, a man my age. How are you, he asked. I’m exhausted, I said. And I began to cry.

Well, part of that exhaustion is that we’re coming up to Holy Week and Easter, and clergy are always exhausted getting ready for the string of demanding liturgies at this time of year. Part of it is also that on top of all those services we’ve added the whole Come and See evangelism project for Easter. And, of course, God has seen fit, as he does most years, to put the Crucifixion and Resurrection right in the middle of income tax time and cleaning up the garden for spring. So, exhaustion is to be expected. As Anne reminds me, it’s an annual thing.

But part of my exhaustion is also a participation in your exhaustion. Someone said to me recently, “You get around in your job, don’t you.” And indeed I do. You might say that “getting around” is my job. The old word for the parish priest was parson, which comes from person. The parson was the “person” of the village, who got around and visited everyone and gathered up their thoughts and prayers and lives on his heart, to offer them to God. The other part of his job was carrying God on his heart to offer God to his people – equally important, and something that can get lost in a priest’s daily busyness. Continue reading ‘Lent 5 March 21, 2010’

Lent 4 March 14, 2010

1 Corinthians 5:16-21                                                       

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32                                                          

Oh, dear! I do have trouble with sin – and here I have to preach on it. Again. I comfort myself with the thought that all of us have trouble with sin, and that our God wants to help us, not make things worse.

I’ll start with an incident that I can’t get out of my mind, I guess because it seems to dramatize the whole “trouble with sin” thing so powerfully. It happened at an Easter morning service back in the old church years ago. There was a family in Holy Cross back then who owned an auto repair shop. A few weeks before Easter my old pick-up truck had scraped its side against the doorway to the garage. No dent really, just a swipe of white paint. I know I didn’t do it; Anne knew she hadn’t done it. The truck must have gone off on its own while we were asleep. Anyway, I took it into this shop and asked if they could repair it for me. Continue reading ‘Lent 4 March 14, 2010’

A Lenten “Pilgrimage” to Marklin Candle

Tammi and Garrick pose beside "Big Bertha," the fattest candle Marklin makes.

Tammi and Garrick pose beside "Big Bertha," the fattest candle Marklin makes.

Two maxims express the spirit of Marklin Candle in Contoocook and guide its work: “God is in the details” (the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and “None [church furnishings and objects] should be made in such a way that it is far removed from the print of the human hand and human craft” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship). Our hour-long tour of the Marklin plant and shop (yes, they have a gorgeous gift shop with both religious and secular items for sale) was very much like an hour-long worship service (only more exciting than many of these!).

Martin Marklin displays one of his company's hand-crafted Paschal candles.

Martin Marklin displays one of his company's hand-crafted Paschal candles.

Most candle companies offer only mass-produced goods. Decorations are superficial and often deteriorate in use. Marklin has developed special techniques for incising their candles and then filling the designs with colored waxes. They also follow painstaking procedures for blending waxes, double dipping, smoothing and sizing candles. Besides Paschal candles, which they ship all over the world, they make a variety of altar candles, baptismal candles, candles for special events (not all religious) and decorative candles for the home. Nor are candles their only product. The Holy Cross group saw some of the liturgical furnishings (Paschal and Advent candle stands, ambos, altars, presider’s chairs) they make in their plant.

A Marklin craftsman works on the Holy Cross candle.

A Marklin craftsman works on the Holy Cross candle.

Owner Martin Marklin grew up in a Roman Catholic parish in St. Louis (also named Holy Cross). His pastor was deeply affected by the liturgical movement that grew out of, and helped shape, the Second Vatican Council and its reforms — as well as parallel reforms in the Episcopal Church, culminating in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. An old Polish woman each year decorated the Holy Cross Paschal candle. When she died, the Marklin family figured out how she had done this and took over her ministry. Out of this grew Martin Marklin’s vocation of crafting fine liturgical appointments and his company, now 25 years old. Most of the processes and equipment in the plant have been designed and built by Marklin itself. Its employees are as dedicated to care and beauty as its owner.

A note about Paschal candles: The word paschal means Easter, coming from the Greek word for Passover. At the heart of all Christian worship down through the ages is the liturgy celebrated on the eve of Easter Day, the Great Vigil of Easter. Beginning traditionally in the dark (in the days before Daylight Saving Time and when people were up to spending all night at church), the service begins outofdoors with the kindling and blessing of the New Fire. From this the Paschal candle is lit and carried into the church, symbolizing Christ the Light of the World, triumphing over death and darkness. An ancient hymn, the Exsultet, is sung as the candle is placed in its stand beside the ambo or lectern. It will burn there throughout the 50 days of Easter, and afterwards will stand by the baptismal font where it is lighted at baptisms. (It also burns beside the casket at funerals, symbolizing the Christian hope of the resurrection of the dead.) Paschal candles come in many sizes. The Holy Cross candle is 3″ x 36″, a nice large size; it rests in a wrought iron stand made for Holy Cross by a local Weare blacksmith. Marklin makes Paschal candles that weigh as much as 75 pounds, requiring two deacons to carry them into the church at the Vigil. Every year on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), Martin Marklin rises in the dark to pray at the very hour that one of his candles is being lighted at the Easter Vigil in Guam, where Easter Day first dawns on the world.

Lent 3 March 7, 2010

Exodus 3:1-15                                                                    

1 Corinthians 10:1-13                                                       

Luke 13:1-9


“We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the secret sits in the center and knows.” – Robert Frost

 I’ve been thinking during my Lenten prayers about how much time I spend on Church and how little time I spend on God. How much time, to use Robert Frost’s marvelous image, I spend dancing round in a ring and how little I spend trying to sit with the secret in the center which is God.

If I made a pie chart, God would be just a little tiny sliver. Of course, Church is my job. But I expect it’s the same for you: that sometimes it seems as though for all the Church stuff – the meetings, the planning, the projects, even the liturgy each Sunday – God gets lost. And though God needs Church – Jesus called together disciples in order to spread the Gospel – Church is nothing except as it helps us relate to God. So let’s this morning spend a little time sitting with God, because that’s what the readings are all about. Continue reading ‘Lent 3 March 7, 2010’