All posts filed under: Season

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter

As we prepare for Lent this year, I’m thankful to own a great new resource — Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary (a very thoughtful gift to my daughter from her godparents). In the book, Alary sets out a map for Lent, explaining in simple but lovely prose that Lent is for “making time,” “making space,” and “making room” for the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. She connects the seasonal rhythms of the natural world and the liturgical rhythms of the church calendar. The illustrations by Ann Boyajian are subtle and evocative, very appropriate to the subject matter. I’m going to use this book as a guide to our Lenten journey, planning to incorporate the practices and traditions that Alary mentions: Lenten Candles Making Pretzels (I didn’t know this fascinating background!) Spring cleaning (i.e. “make space” in the house) Plant a Easter Garden Eat plain meals and cook with strict limits Be hospitable I’m hopeful that reading this book often and using it as a map will help our 3 year old …

Preparing for Advent: Jesus Tree Ornaments

If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Advent, here is one of our favorite first posts, with Bley’s beautiful Jesus Tree Ornaments. For the past few years, we have been trying to keep a quiet Advent, and one way we do this is by using a Jesus Tree devotional.  A lovely friend recommended the Jesus Tree Devotional by Rachel Chaney, which is based on The Jesus Storybook Bible.  It has proven to be an easy and meaningful way for us to keep our focus on the spirit of Advent, and build up to the celebration of Christmas.  The devotional itself is straightforward and easy to use: there is a symbol with corresponding Bible text for days 1-25 of December, and then a script/story that you read aloud to your children.  A traditional hymn follows to sing, and there is an ornament that you can cut out and color with your children.  The thing I love about this devotional is that it makes it so easy on Mom: all you have to do is read the story …

What are the Ember Days?

The Michaelmas Ember Days are  Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In this post, we give an overview to the background of the Ember Days as well as their purpose (If you don’t have time to read anything else, do scroll down to the bottom of the post and read the poem Autumn Inaugural by Dana Gioia; it is rather perfect for these days). What are the Ember Days? The Ember Days are set aside by the Church as a way to mark the passage of seasons through prayer and fasting.  As you may suspect, this happens four times a year: in winter, after the feast of St. Lucy; in spring, after Ash Wednesday; in summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and in fall, after Holy Cross Day. An old English rhyme states: “Fasting days and Emberings be / Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.” In Latin, these days are called Quatour Tempora (Four Times). The word “Ember Days” is from the Anglo-Saxon ymbren, a circuit or revolution (from ymb, around, and ryne, a course, running). Folk etymology claims that the source of “ember” comes …

Homely Moments: Children and Holy Week

We thought it would be fun to launch an inspirational blog link up this week at The Homely Hours.  If you would like to share pictures or ideas of your family celebrating Holy Week, please add your link below.  It will be fun to see how others celebrate!  Alternatively, tag your photos on Instagram or Facebook with #homelyworship.  The invitation to add your link is open through Easter Sunday.  Have a blessed Holy Week. The Triumphal Entry in godly play.  

A Thousand Small Choices

I sometimes find myself getting flustered about Lent, unsure about what it’s supposed to be accomplishing within me. I think this is mostly because I start worrying about my emotions, whether or not I’m inwardly responding with right and authentic feelings. In general, influenced by books such as N.T. Wright’s After You Believe and lots of C.S. Lewis, I’ve realized this kind of self-centered focus on my emotions is, in fact, the unhelpful leftovers of the Romantic movement of the 19th century and the Existentialist movement in the early 20th. Not to say that our emotions are not important barometers of our inward condition, but they are not the measure of our virtue, our Christlike character. As Wright states, “Virtue. . . is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right but which doesn’t ‘come naturally’ — and then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required ‘automatically,’ as we say. . . Virtue is what happens …

Devotional Art: A Lenten Reflection

Our priest’s wife, Sandy Mc Namara, is a teacher and art historian.  She offers this reflection for us in the midst of Lent. Dutch Baroque artist Rembrandt van Rijn over the course of his lifetime painted hundreds of images depicting many Old and New Testament historical events, stories, and parables. Rembrandt is considered a Baroque painter, not only because he lived and painted during the 17th century, but also because his style and technique reflect many major characteristics of that period. Baroque art emphasized the theatrical and dramatic through focused use of strong light/dark contrasts, emotion, and dramatic scenes. One scene of Christ’s earthly ministry that intrigued Rembrandt was the instant when the two disciples who walked the road to Emmaus with Jesus, first realized they were interacting with their Lord after having witnessed his execution and burial. Rembrandt was an artist of human experience who loved to capture the emotional reaction of his subjects at crisis moments. He studied the human face, and attempted to depict the instant of epiphany and realization. This Emmaus …

A “Homely” Artist: Marianne Stokes

Marianne Stokes was an Austrian painter in the late 1800’s who married the well-known English artist, Adrian Stokes.  Together they travelled Europe, he painting landscapes and villages, and Marianne painting portraits of the local peoples and their customs.  I particularly love this portrait of a woman praying on Candlemas Day.  Her Madonna and Child (below) is one of the most beautiful I have seen, with the patterned gold silhouettes of flowering blooms and thorns, probably referring to the Christ child’s future death. There are also some beautiful “homely” pieces that she painted.  This young girl in the sunny meadow wearing traditional Eastern European clothing is charming, as is the mother teaching her daughter a lesson in their rustic home (lower right). This portrait of a Hungarian bride is rich with detail of their historical garments, and apparently her work was a valuable contribution to the documentation of this culture. I hope you enjoyed seeing the work of a historical artist, and how she depicted the liturgical lives of various peoples.  To see more of her …

A Valentine for You, Mom and Dad

One thing I love about the prayer book is that it gives direction that is simple, precise, and Christ-focused to my thoughts and inward groanings.  This is the prayer that I say the most, under my breath, in desperation, at the end of a long day as I fall asleep: Almighty God, heavenly Father, who hast blessed us with the joy and care of children; Give us light and strength so to train them, that they may love whatsoever things are true and pure and lovely and of good report, following the example of their Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen. Click the image below to download a free printable of the  Parent’s Prayer  pdf from Esther Bley Designs.