Saturday, November 6, 2010

La Ofrenda: Remembering those we love who are parted from us

This Sunday, November 7, we are observing a major feast on the Christian calendar: All Saints Day.

All Saints Sunday has its origins in the ancient church when it was celebrated on the Saturday before Easter -- the day now called Holy Saturday when Jesus descends to hell to free everyone from the grip of death.

All Saints and All Souls days merged to become special masses for martyrs and those who had died anonymously. In later centuries, the day shifted into the weeks before Advent, and the day we now call "Halloween" is actually All Hallows Eve, or the even of All Souls Day.

This year we are continuing with a tradition we began two years ago at St. Paul's from the part of the world where I come: La Ofrenda, a special table in the church where we display items representing people we love who have died. La Ofrenda is a major element of El Dia de los Muertos, Mexico's "Day of the Dead," and is popular in churches throughout California and the Southwest. I've seen many over the years and all of them are powerful remembrances.

This Sunday, please bring something for our Ofrenda that represents someone you love who has died; a photograph or a poem, or a candle or a paper flower. We will display our ofrendas until the first Sunday of Advent on November 28.

Last year our first Ofrenda was so popular we set up two more. I am told that we were the only Episcopal Church in Virginia with a Ofrendas, an honor I hope other churches might share with us this year.

This Sunday we will also bless our offerings for those beyond our walls who need our assistance. Please bring socks and underwear for the homeless. We will also bless "Duduza" dolls knitted for the children of Haiti. And we will bless the financial pledges for the coming year at St. Paul's. If you haven't pledged, please do so. No pledge is too small, and your pledge is a vote of confidence for the ministries of St. Paul's and the people who work very hard in our parish.

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