Quinquagesima, the six of us gathered in the Chapel at the topmost deck of the ship and sang together Matins from Treasury. Such a joy!
Ash Wednesday found us docked at St. Lucia. We went to the Cathedral for service. It was a Roman service of the Word (I'm not sure how else to describe it). The school boys from St. Aloysius (over four hundred strong, in their uniforms and well behaved) led the service mostly under Mother Superior's guidance: reading the traditional Joel reading and then from Second Corinthians six. A deacon read the Gospel reading from St. Matthew six and then the priest preached upon it. Sadly, he neglected to connect the reading in anyway to the sufferings and death of Him who first spoke those words. The prayer of the faithful followed, led again by the school boys. Then the distribution of ashes, with a number of the teachers (mostly nuns) distributing them.
Rather than the stark "Remember, O man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return" there was something ekse said. I can't remember what it was, but it made me sad not to hear the traditional memento resound repeatedly.
Still a blessing to worship with fellow baptized and remember the start of the 40 days and give our ears to hearing the ancient Words of Sacred Scripture. The service ended quickly after the distribution of ashes, a blessing and a song. We ventured out to return to the ship amid a light drizzle.
Later John and I reflected on the lack of Gospel in the sermon. It featured our actions big time (reform! repent! renew!), but the wondrous work of Christ on our behalf or of His Spirit within us? Not so much. How sad is that?
I had downloaded earlier The Noonday Devil at the recommendation of several friends. It was an utterly worthwhile read for Lent. I'm working my way back through it with more care after an initial read through on the plane ride home. I was immediately struck with the fact that the Larger Catechism helps us meet the demon of acedia in the treatment of the Third Commandment (see today's Old Lutheran Quote of the Day).
It was a joy to be home for Invocabit and to hear again of our Lord's gracious work for us and His Spirit's work in us through the Word and Supper, and to sing the sturdy songs of our beloved Lutheran Service Book. We were given a sheet after church that suggested a way to read through the entire Book of Concord during Lent. What a great idea! Started on it today and playing catch up.
Eager to get back to work, but it was a blessed vacation indeed. For friends along the way, for times of refreshment and rest, for the ability to work out as much as one desires: Glory to God!
A few pics: