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Hallo again to all.

The last seven days in the Church's calendar saw a remarkable—and probably not too much remarked on—progression from bread to glory.

The bread came on Lammas Day, a pre-Christian holiday brought into the English church calendar on the first of August as 'loaf mass.' Lammas marked the beginning of the autumn harvest season for northern Europeans, and it was kept in some places by the ceremonial offering of loaves baked from the new harvest's fresh wheat. (In some other places, such as York, it was celebrated with a tithe of sheep, also offered in thanksgiving to God for the fruit of the earth.) It is a beautiful and, we think, necessary reminder that food comes from God rather than the supermarket, and that we are called to be good stewards of creation.

Lammas rests now on the table of the Prayer Book's black-letter days without usually receiving too much attention aside from some attempts to revive it by our friends at Full Homely Divinity and under the auspices of the Arthur Rank Centre. It seems not to have made its way onto the calendars of other churches in the Anglican Communion, but its message and spirit ring true no matter where and when the harvest begins: in giving us bread, God gives us himself. In giving us himself, God calls us to live out a verse from 1 Corinthians particularly dear to the Society of Archbishop Justus: 'For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.'

TransfigurationThe glory was of course the Feast of the Transfiguration, yesterday's commemoration of our Lord appearing on Mount Tabor with Moses and Elijah. Peter, John and James are shown in almost all depictions of this miraculous event. They are amazed and transfixed at what and whom they see. And they, Peter in particular, want to prolong this epiphany: 'it is good for us to be here.' After a glimpse of clothes 'white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them,' and a voice from a cloud, though, it is over.

The Transfiguration has not been a major part of Anglican liturgical life in the same way that it is for Orthodox Christians; during most of Anglican history in the United States, for example, it was not a liturgical feast at all. But today it figures on all our calendars as an exhilarating moment punctuating Pentecost/Trinity season with an exclamation point and an arrow. The arrow points to heaven and to Jerusalem, where our Lord will take and bless bread, give it to his disciples, die and be raised from the dead.

In the synoptic gospels, the Transfiguration takes place not long after the feeding of the five thousand, and so perhaps it is no mistake that the liturgical year has given us these feasts to mark in close proximity: bread—glory—bread—glory. This is a beautiful cycle built into the church year, redolent of Canadian Anglican theologian Edith Humphreys' explication of the Anglican ethos as focused on 'the high, the deep and the domestic.' In times of division and confusion, the quick punctuation of a long summer by Lammas and Transfiguration calls us back to simple things and holy things: bread and glory, God's gifts and our hope.

See you next week.

Richard Mammana

Last updated: 7 August 2005

A thin blue line
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