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JESUS MAFA. Transfiguration, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved February 15, 2015]Hallo again to all.

Welcome to Quinquagesima! Counting the days before the great feast of Easter is somehow less confusing when we use the older names for the Sundays before Lent. Plus they are a great opportunity to slip in some more exposure to Latinate roots for the congregation and its youngest members.

Can you remember trying to figure out how the Forty days of Lent were forty when you knew there were six weeks of seven days plus a few more for the days in the week with Ash Wednesday? Somewhere, some Sunday School teacher explained to us how the Sundays of Lent are not part of the Forty days. It took a leap of faith as a child to understand that one! But those lovely names of Shrovetide—Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima—made immediate sense once the words were parsed from the Latin.

No matter. It is the Sunday Next Before Lent, the Last Sunday After the Epiphany, Shrove Sunday. For those who adhere to the Revised Common Lectionary—and that would be many of us—today is also known as Transfiguration Sunday.

How do we mark the upcoming change to the season of Lent with our children? We don't mean the discussions of 'giving up' or 'taking on' something as a Lenten discipline. While those discussions are important, today we are thinking about traditions we use with our parish family to show our youngest members how we bring the season before Lent to a close.

Many of us use 'burying' or saying farewell to Alleluia until Easter. For the Sundays of Shrovetide, our liturgy is filled with Alleluias wherever practicable. On Shrove Tuesday, we hold family and community Pancake Suppers. We bring our dried palms from last year's Palm Sunday. Our priests bless and then burn them. We watch as they are transformed into the ashes we will receive on our foreheads the next day. We decorate large banners with Allelulias and symbols of the resurrection. And then we put the banners in boxes and hide them away until Easter. Some parishes actually dig a hole on the church grounds and place the box with the banner in it. Others place the box near the altar where the children can see it during services. Any way a parish decides, the message is clear: the season of Lent is different. It is a time of waiting and preparation for the basis of our whole faith: the Resurrection. And that is worth the wait! Alleluia!

We should be letting the last of our pre-Lenten Alleluias ring in our local parish today, but yet another blizzard in our corner of the Northern Hemisphere has cancelled all travel and all services for the day. Instead we shall visit different webcasts of Eucharists from around the Communion. We have many choices, but we shall start either with St Thomas in New York City or with Washington DC's National Cathedral. And we shall close our day of remote worship with Choral Evensong from BBC Radio 3. Or perhaps we shall stay awake to listen to Compline from St Mark's in Seattle, Washington.

And again we say, 'Alleluia!' for those who have made their worship available to us via the Internet.

We'd like to hear about the traditions your parish has for Shrovetide and moving into Lent. Please drop us a note. And if you have a favourite church service webcast, we'd like to know about it! Submit it via this form and we will add it to our resources for all to enjoy.

See you next week.

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15 February 2015

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