Ash Wed Lemon Wrapup

Well I must congratulate the serving team at St Mary’s last night. They produced the most succesful ash I’ve every used and then presented me with more lemons than I’ve ever seen.

The ash comes from burnt palm crosses, mixed with oil and the secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is what makes the mark so successful.

After you have ashed a congregation of approximately 120 people, you have very sticky black hands. Though this might be fun in some circumstances, at a moment when one is about share the peace (ie shake hands with everyone) and celebrate the holy mysteries (with pristine white wafers) it is not so good.

Fortunately, there is a perfect method for getting the black sticky ash off quickly. It involved cut lemons, which you squeeze all over your hands, and flat breads, which you use as towel substitutes.

Last night so many lemons appeared that one was left wondering how dirty the servers thought the clergy were. For a moment, it seemed as though they expected me to strip off and rub myself down all over with lemon juice. I know that I’ve often said you can’t go too far in the liturgy, but I did think that just might have been over the top.

After the service, it was on to pick something up from one of my local 24 hour shops, and an interesting conversation with the Muslim shop-keeper about the ash.

“Its like Ramadan,” I said.

“Huh?” said the shop-keeper.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Services at 1230 and at 1930. Allegri Miserere and some Palestrina in the evening. Ashes at both.

As usual, everyone who turns up, belongs. All Welcome.

[Ruth notes that she has the lemon ready. This is directly related to me saying to the servers on Sunday – “Mind and bring the salmon sandwiches for Ash Wednesday now, don’t forget”. You can tell that Mother Portobello and I were trained in the details of Ash Wednesday liturgies by the same person].