Monday, January 26, 2009


My mother mentioned that I should probably discuss WHY the church burned stuff the other day, lest readers be confused. Was the church protesting the secularization of Christmas? Was it a way of making carbon compost for our flower beds? Was the parish so strapped for cash they'd resorted to creative methods to keep warm? Why the heck did I dress up like a druid?

Here's the skinny- that was not a druid outfit. The Druids are actually still an extant religion in some form. No, I was wearing my classic clerical cloak. It is made by Wippell's, and was a gift from my family for my diaconal ordination. It must weigh about 12 pounds of solid wool (think old school, U.S. Navy peacoat- that kind of thick wool). I only get to wear it a few times a year, but when one is off to the cemetery or the outdoor service and wearing full clericals, a parka just looks weird at best and disrespectful at worst. Actually, in my dreamworld, President Obama will ask me to do the Invocation for the next inauguration, and I will show up in proper office vestments with my tippet, my lined cassock, my surplice, and this cloak topping it off. Not only will I be warm and toasty, I'll teach those boys how the clergygirls do it. Here in the real world, the cloak is actually very appropriate outerwear for vested clergy. And, yes, I do know it's pretty damn cool.

The bonfire is a fairly common "12th night" tradition, where people burned the decorations of Christmas and welcomed the new year. I've heard myths that, because evergreens are hung for various superstitious reasons (such as hanging holly over the door so that no evil spirits can enter the house), they collect spiritual debris and should be burned. You may make up your own mind on that matter. Others say that a large bonfire is simply a fun way to dispose of used-up decorations. Instead of a landfill or dump, reduce the trash.

In our case, we were celebrating the latest of the 1st of the Season Evensong services. It was Pam C's tree that went up. I was amazed at how quickly all those greens caught fire. I'll be very timid about ever having another greened Advent wreath! It was a simple parish event to celebrate the start of the Epiphany season. We hope that more people will join the fun next time!

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