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Sacred Service

Bless you!!

Sacred Service

This Sacred Service Quiz, focuses on the 'nuts and bolts' of Christian worship and the shape of the Church Year, but there are several less solemn questions here too for you!

1.
Which of the following is NOT a correct 'Quarter-Day' within the conventional church calendar?
Lady Day
Petertide
Michaelmas
Childermas
Lady Day is (by fairly basic calculation) the day around which Mary must have received the Annunciation, if she were then to give birth within the otherwise conventional tiimescale at Christmas. (It seems less than likely that Jesus was born in late December ~ there wouldn't have been flocks and shepherds out on the hills at that time of year, for instance ~ but if He were, the Annunciation would have had to be around late March.)
Petertide is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in late June (the closest fairly major holy day to the Summer Solstice); Michaelmas celebrates St Michael (29 September).
Childermas is an older name for the Feast of the Innocents (i.e. those infants slaughtered in Herod's massacre when he was trying to extinguish the newborn Jesus), which, reasonably enough, falls a few days after Christmas; but Christmas itself is the greatest of the Quarter Days.
2.
In churches where there are 'hangings' ~ not executions, we hasten to clarify; but rather, decorative fabric hangings on the front of the altar and perhaps such fittings as the lectern and/or pulpit ~ these may well be changed during the course of the liturgical year for reasons of visual variety and particular symbolism, along with any matching vestments for the clergy, such as the stole or chasuble.
ONE of the following statements is INACCURATE: which one?
Purple (or blue), as a rich and sombre colour, is associated with the seasons of Advent (the month or so prior to Christmas) and Lent (the six weeks or so prior to Easter)
Red is fairly obviously associated with blood (as in the Feast Days of martyrs) and the fire of Pentecost, and, by further extension from this, to such sacramental occasions as confirmation and ordination
White is used on Christmas Day and through the Epiphany season, probably for its association with innocence and purity (and in the northern hemisphere, seasonally with snow!)
Green is associated with Harvest Festival
This association would be obvious enough, but if ever you have wandered into a cool church interior during a sunny summer walk you will probably have found the hangings to be green at any time between June and October or later, unless there had lately been a special occasion such as a wedding or Whitsun. This is because green ~ officially the most restful colour, so the ophthalmologists tell us ~ is the 'default' colour in what is called 'ordinary time'. i.e. that long stretch of the church year between the tail end of the definitive post-Easter sequence (Ascension, Trinity, Whitsun) and the start of a new cycle on Advent Sunday, around the beginning of December.
3.
Why might you sometimes see an emblem, in the form of a fish, on the back of somebody's car?
The car owner is a practising, probably Evangelical Christian and wishes to make it clear that they consider themself 'a fisher of men' like Jesus' earliest disciples
There is a reference here to the Old Testament story of Jonah and the Great Fish (usually considered to have been a whale, though these are not usual in the seas around the Holy Land) ... whose journey took on an unexpected dimension, yet was all under God's control
The Biblical Greek word for 'fish' was a semi-secret acronym for Jesus, by which the earliest Christians identified themselves
It offers a reminder of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, which Jesus accomplished using just the contents of a young lad's lunchbox, which consisted of a very few each of bread rolls and fish
ICHTHYS (just 5 characters in the Greek) stood for 'Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour'.
4.
Most acts of worship will include a time when the leader (priest, or whoever) speaks to the assembled people, probably picking out and developing points from a passage of scripture which would have been read out earlier. Which of these is NOT one of the usual titles for this part of a formal service?
Sermon
Address
Homily
Intimations
'Homily' (Answer 3) is the usual Catholic label; in lower-church circles it might even simply be called a 'talk'. Answer 4 is a Scots dialect usage referring not to the Sermon as such, but to the weekly notices or announcements.
5.
The custom of blurting the almost involuntary little prayer 'Bless you!' for someone who has just sneezed, refers back to precedent first set by a religious leader at the time of a major historical epidemic: who, or which one?
Pope Gregory during the Bubonic Plague in Rome, c.590
The Archbishop of Canterbury during the Black Death (14th century)
The King of England during the Plague of London, 1665
Queen Victoria during a cholera outbreak in 19th-century London
This is not definitive, but it is the most widely acknowledged story. Presumably the original Latin would have sounded somewhat less like an imitative sneeze than does the phrase we use in modern English.
6.
Most local churches try the best they can to maintain an attractive interior by maintenance, cleaning and also by the use of flowers and other occasional decorations. In some places there will be a regular rota of flower arrangers, except perhaps during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent; others will at least make such effort as resources and circumstances permit, for 'high and holy days' and special occasions. Which of the following floral (&/or similar) decorations would you be LEAST likely to find in a typical modest church?
A Christmas crib scene, with manger and model figures (including animals)
An Easter Garden, with empty tomb and spring flowers
An Ascensiontide display
A Harvest Festival display of plants and produce
Ascension always comes in the flower season (it is a 'movable feast', a fixed while after Easter), but it is not usually marked in anything like so major a way as these others. Arrangers are more likely to 'go to town' with fiery-coloured arrangements on Whit Sunday (Pentecost) ... or to be saving their efforts for summer weddings!
7.
Which of the following is true about these two 'rites of passage' in the life of a mainstream Christian churchgoer?
'I was baptised by a priest and I shall be confirmed by a priest as well, probably the same one'
'A priest baptised me, but for my Confirmation I will kneel before a bishop'
'I was baptised by a bishop, but for Confirmation any priest is sufficient'
'My baptism was done by a Lay Reader and my Confirmation will be done by a Deacon'
Baptism must be done by a priest (in forms of the church which have them); Confirmation, perhaps as a more senior and conscious occasion in anyone's life, requires a bishop. A Lay Reader does not have authority to conduct baptisms, nor weddings nor a communion, but may lead at Funerals.
8.
Which of the following is probably the LEAST spiritually significant factor in the rise of Easter Eggs as a seasonal / 'religious' confection?
Rich, fatty or otherwise indulgent foods have been 'off the menu' for reasonably serious Christians, as a practice of self-denial, during the 40 days of Lent that precede Easter; so the festival offers a timely excuse to eat something more appealing again!
The manufacturers of cards, confectionery and other attractive 'token' goods are always keen to take advantage of traditional occasions
The egg is a symbol of new life emerging from within something unpromisingly solid; the Resurrection picks up this image too
Children can be easily persuaded to hunt for eggs and/or decorate them on a fine (?) spring morning during the more 'boring' stages of a church service
Answer 2 hardly offers even the most notional strand of 'spiritual' justification!
9.
How many Stations of the Cross are there in a complete traditional sequence?
11
12
13
14
There is numerological symbolism in this figure, which of course is equal to 2 x 7. For further details please research online, or at any local Catholic (or Anglo-Catholic) church.
10.
Most of us are probably broadly aware of churches holding a Harvest Festival during the autumn; but what is the official church name for 'the front end of the cycle', when prayers are offered in the spring for safety and prosperity over the summer?
Lent
Passiontide
Easter
Rogation
This word comes from 'rogo' (Latin: 'I ask'), as also in 'interrogation' (which literally means 'the asking of questions between two people or parties' ... though in its modern sense it usually tends to be rather more one-sided than that sounds!).
Some village parishes still hold outdoor processional services for Rogationtide, seeking God's blessing on crops, flocks, natural resources, weather, machinery etc. Our countryside remains as fragile and vulnerable as in more 'primitive' times, so such rituals are often welcomed and respected still, sometimes also coupled with 'beating of the bounds' or even with a Pet Service.

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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