My friend Tim Schenck has a bee in his bonnet. Apparently his sabbatical has allowed him some extra jogging time, and he’s noticed something he doesn’t like.
I went for a run around my neighborhood yesterday and it seemed like every other house still had a wreath up. I still haven’t hauled down the Christmas lights from the front porch so I’m not exactly Mr. Holier Than Thou. But the wreath came off the door after Epiphany. So I’m a little bit holier than thou.
The seasons of the church year tend to bleed together. At least out there in “the world.” Anyone who’s been inside a Hallmark store knows this. Fortunately, thanks to our respective altar guilds, our worship spaces are immune to this. You don’t find some of the crosses veiled for Lent or some of the hangings changed to purple — it’s whole hog or nothin’ (totus porkus). Unlike my house where the Christmas lights are still up (though not lit) but the wreath is down.
So, Merry Lent. Now get that hideous thing off your front door!
He’s right. But it’s not always easy. Take, for example, the wreaths at the parish I serve. When we put them up, the Altar Guild Directress says, “Every priest seems to have ideas about when these should come down. What are yours?” I suggest that they might come down immediately after the Feast of the Epiphany. She says, “But they’re so pretty. Maybe they could stay up longer.” So I say, “Sure, let’s get them down on February 2. That’s an important feast day, 40 days after Christmas.” I think to myself, “You are a clever priest. You’ve made the altar guild happy, and you’re being Liturgically Correct.”
Then I observe, on Sunday February 3, that the wreaths aren’t down. Oh well, I figure someone must be on top of this. People are top of just about everything at this church. Then I see, as I’m leaving the noontime service on Ash Wednesday, February 6, that the wreaths are still up. Lent wreaths, I exclaim!
So I ripped them down. At least the ones from the church. The Parish House wreaths stayed up. More recently, someone’s finally removed them. I was relieved. Who wanted to be the only church in town with “Lent wreaths?”
One final note, I worry about the trend to have actual Lent wreaths. Six candles. Five purples and a pink. Like an Advent wreath, but not really. It’s another Almy conspiracy or something to get us to buy junk we don’t need. Much like blue vestments. So I’m going to add a 40th article to our Articles of Religion at Christ Church. “The church hath rejected wreaths in Lent, and ever it shall be.”