Clean

by , under church, readings, services

Theophany: Great Blessing of the Waters. (I typed “Eaters” there three times. Bad fingers.) We did it in the church, because school has started and Fr T is teaching tomorrow so we can’t have a Liturgy and go to the river afterwards to turn it all, and thereby all the water in the world, into holy water. There were only eight people in the church, half of them crew (1 priest, 3 choir) and we couldn’t very well have gone to bless the River IJssel in the dark. And I was so glad that I didn’t have to read Isaiah and the Epistle into the wind, like when we do have the Blessing of the Waters at the river. It was hard enough to sing and read the whole service at all, even leaving most of the psalms to the other two in the choir, with the tail-end of the Cold From Hell.

Not standing in the wind and in a crowd also meant that I could follow much more of the actual blessing prayer so it could give me thinky thoughts. Here’s an extract — it must be online in its entirety but searching brings up so much stuff I really don’t want that I gave up on it.

One bit jumped out at me “By Your birth You have sanctified the Virgin’s womb.” Except that in Dutch it’s gereinigd, “cleansed”, in the middle of a long exposition of all the things that Christ cleanses by merely touching them. I don’t think –other than lots of people in history, in the church, in the culture that Christ was born in– that childbirth makes one unclean, though it makes one spectacularly dirty — very happy to be washed by two nurses while my firstborn was being washed by her father.

Now for the thinky thoughts.

In the mundane world, when something clean is touched however fleetingly by something dirty, it’s no longer clean: there’s a stain on it. Conversely, when something dirty is touched by something clean but not scrubbed completely it’s still dirty. One clean spot doesn’t make the whole thing clean, but one dirty spot makes the whole thing dirty. In Christ’s world, this is turned on its head. When Christ, being supremely clean, touches something it’s cleaned; when something dirty touches Christ He isn’t sullied. (Can’t be sure of that last, of course. It’s just a strong suspicion.)

This braced me enough that I had energy (and voice!) for the rest of the service, though I refused to read the First Hour. Nobody was expecting it, anyway.

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