Sunday, November 15, 2009


As I prepare for my role as thurifer at Sunday Eucharist this morning, this ceremony comes to my mind.

Our Jewish elder brothers and sisters in faith save all their high church for the dinner table and the home. I love ceremonies with lots of fire, fluid, and darkness, and this one is very beautiful. This ceremony ends the Sabbath every Saturday night as soon as 3 stars are visible in the sky. A candle with multiple wicks is lighted and blessed. A kiddush cup is filled with wine to overflowing. Some spicy fragrance contained in a besamim is blessed and passed around as a reminder of the sweetness of God's rest. The celebrant looks at his fingers by the light of the candle, and the shadow in his palm, and then opens his hand to dispel it. He takes a drink from the cup, and then extinguishes the candle in the spillover wine. Then the lights come back on.

I wonder how many other Episcopalians out there used to work in a Judaica shop? We sold all kinds of sets for this ceremony, in addition to the candles.


Rick+ said...

     Your posting goes with some thoughts I've had this weekend based on an article in the London Times Online that was noted by Thinking Anglicans. As a minority religion in almost every culture, Judaism's ceremonies to create a space for the holy went into the home, whereas Christianity, a majority religion often supported by the state, focused on ceremonies in the public worship. I'm wondering if that's one of the reasons so many of us leave our Christianity at the church door when we leave.

Unknown said...

I love kiddush cup in the photo! It's very beautiful and ornate and so often holds such mystery that even we miss in our Eucharist sometimes.

Our families who gather for the Eucharist are suppose to be the family of God around the altar table, but I think the Jews also have it right with their carrying it down to the individual family weekly as well.

David G. said...

Where is the nearest pawn shop?!?

June Butler said...

The vessels are lovely, indeed.

And how did you perform, Doug? I'm confidant that you didn't hit anyone as you swung the thurible.

Counterlight said...

I still cherish dreams of beaning a bishop.

No fires were started. No one was injured. So, I suppose it was a success.

June Butler said...

"Beaning a bishop"! You are bad.