Friday, February 06, 2009

*not* an ashtray!

After lighting a chalice--the symbol of our faith tradition--PLEASE do not then drop the still-smoldering match into that same chalice. It is bad enough when lay people do this, but when trained clergy, people supposedly versed in the power of symbolism and ritual, do this, it just astounds me. Maybe it is a sign of our anti-authoritarianism (and clerical self-loathing?); maybe it is simple laziness, but I implore us all to take better care of our beloved chalice.

6 Comments:

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Robin Edgar said...

Well to be honest I am not overly impressed with the UUA sticking the flaming chalice where the sun don't shine myself. . . And Steve Bridenbaugh's flaming Eye of Sauron version of the flaming chalice symbol is really quite hilarious! ;-)

 
At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there a fairly simple solution? Make sure there's a plate or other fireproof receptacle beside the chalice so that there's somewhere safe to put the match. I wouldn't even have a problem with its being an ashtray, which people would recognize as an appropriate place to deposit a used match.

Otherwise, I think people, clergy included, who put the match into the chalice rather than onto a flammable surface are simply acting prudently out of concerns more important than ritual appropriateness.

 
At 2:01 PM, Anonymous amylynn1022 said...

I've seen so many chalice misfires that I've taken to test-lighting the chalice before any service I'm involved with. (me, control issues--what would give you that idea?) Seriously, it is a good way of being sure that you have a viable candle wick or enough oil in your lamp. I also recommend using the long fireplace lighters instead of matches (making sure the designated lighter knows how to use them!), or even one of those long handled wick holders/snuffers that you see in more liturgical traditions than ours. Matches seem to result in scenes like this (only a slight exaggeration):

1)Chalice lighter strikes match on box three time before match breaks.
2)Chalice lighter fishes out second match and successfully lights it. Attempts to light chalice, which contains a tea light that seen better days.
3)Match burns down to chalice lighter's fingers. Chalice lighter lets loose with a colorful term that is a bit much for even a UU church. Chalice is still not lit.
4)Repeat step 2.
5)Chalice is lit. The AC creates a draft and chalice is blown out.
6)Chalice lighter begins process again, visibly frustrated.
7)Preacher declares the chalice virtually lit and lets the poor chalice lighter go. Begins to refocus the congregation so they can get on with the service.

In a situation like that, matches in the chalice are the least of your concern.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Cynthia Landrum said...

Basic solution: don't use matches to light your chalice.

Other options: 1) A candle (I light the candle from a votive near the chalice, and if the ushers forget to light the votive, I light the candle from the altar candles) or 2) A churchy candlelighter such as this: http://www.churchsupplies.com/store/058.sudburycandlelighter.shtml - I'd like to see them put that on the chalice! Similarly, you light it from another lit candle somewhere.

We also have a simple ashtray behind the chalice, and when, as happened last week, no other candle was lit for me, I placed the match there.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Cynthia Landrum said...

Oops, let me try that candlelighter URL again.

 
At 8:17 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Thanks for the consciousness raising. I've now put used-match receptacles with the chalice in each RE room.

 

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