A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwujie, Tuan Yang Chieh). During the 9th Chinese Solar term of Grain in Beard (Mang Zhong), the last before the Summer Solstice on 21 June, great dragon boat races take place, as they have for over 2,000 years, between narrow rowing boats (sometimes 100 feet long) shaped like dragons. The Dragon Boat (Duanwu, 端午节, Double Fifth) Festival is popular in southern China and is on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month unless a leap month is intercalated as in 2020 when the date was moved from the 4th to the 5th Lunar month. The Festival honours the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan, as its origin is said to be from the 476-221 BCE Warring States Period when the patriotic poet drowned himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month and local people raced their boats to search for his body, dropping lumps of rice into the river, a practice that continues today, so that the fish would not feast on his flesh. People now go down to the rivers to picnic and celebrate on boats and, to commemorate Qu Yuan on the morning of the Festival, families eat sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) wrapped in bamboo leaves and made the previous day with various fillings. To deter moths, mosquitoes and other insects, people in rural areas have for generations hung insecticidal and antifungal Chinese mugwort and insecticidal and antibacterial calamus on their doors or walls and during the Festival they believe that these drive away evil and diseases and bring good luck. Image: timeout.com.
Prayer As the thousand-year-old Dragon Boat Festival prayer is realised today, a fragrance of thousands of miles will sweep in with joy, as the thread of affection is sewn with the needle of history. The rice dumplings fill the stars with happiness and save us from evil predators. My we cast the river without fear and be blessed with good fortune for the coming year. 阿门 Amen
Macrina (Macrina the Younger) (c330-79). Lutheran Commemoration, with Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzus, of the Cappadocian daughter of Basil the Elder and granddaughter of Macrina the Elder. Macrina the Younger was a theologian in the Early Christian Church whose younger brother St Gregory of Nyssa wrote a work entitled Life of Macrina in which he describes her sanctity and asceticism throughout her life. She lived a chaste and humble life, devoting her time to prayer and the spiritual education of another younger brother, Peter. Gregory presents her as choosing the devoted study of Scripture and other sacred writings. Her younger brothers included Basil the Great, Peter of Sebaste and the famous Christian jurist Naucratius. Macrina the Younger’s father arranged for her to marry but her fiancé died before the wedding. After having been betrothed, she did not believe it appropriate to marry another man but saw Christ as her eternal bridegroom and devoted herself to her religion by becoming a nun. Macrina died at her family’s estate in Pontus, which with the help of her brother Peter she had turned into a monastery and convent. Gregory of Nyssa composed a Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection (Peri Psyches kai Anastaseos) entitled Ta Makrinia to commemorate her as as teacher, and treating of death and the restoration of all things. He purports to describe the conversation he had with Macrina at her death, in a literary form modelled on Plato’s Phaedo (On The Soul). Even when dying, Macrina continued to live a life of sanctity, as she refused a bed and instead chose to lie on the ground. She is remembered (with Gregory) in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 19 July, which is the Feast Day commemorating her death in the Eastern, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodoxy and the Anglican Communion. Image: mudroomblog.com.
Richard Baxter (1615-91). Church of England commemoration of English Puritan Divine church leader, theologian, hymnodist, controversialist and poet born in Shropshire. He was described as the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen and made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, after the Restoration refusing preferment whilst retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach. He became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists, some of his teachings being unconventional within the Calvinist tradition as he insisted that the Calvinists of his day ran the danger of ignoring the conditions that came with God’s new covenant. Baxter studied in Ludlow Castle and worked as a teacher at Wroxeter before in 1638 becoming master of the free grammar school at Dudley, where he commenced his ordained ministry. He was transferred to Bridgnorth, where he took a special interest in the controversy relating to Nonconformity and the Church of England and became alienated from the Church to become a moderate Nonconformist regarded as a Presbyterian prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism. At 26, he was elected as the minister of St Mary and All Saints’ Church, Kidderminster and served for nearly 20 years, uniting the ministers in the country around him into an association of Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Independents. In the First English Civil War, Baxter regretted not accepting Oliver Cromwell’s offer to become chaplain to the Ironsides but after the 1660 Restoration he secured by the power of his preaching in London the same reputation that he had obtained in the country. He had been made a king’s chaplain and was offered the Bishopric of Hereford, but he could not accept and was then not allowed to be a curate in Kidderminster or preach in the Diocese of Worcester. He retired to Acton, Middlesex for the purpose of quiet study, but was imprisoned for keeping an unlawful nonconformist religious meeting (conventicle), the meeting house he had built for himself in Oxendon Street, Soho being closed to him after he had preached there only once. When he was in poor health in 1680, his books and goods were seized. In 1685, the Chief Justice, Sir George Jeffreys (the Hanging Judge) again committed him to prison for 18 months, until the government released him. The remainder of his life passed peacefully and he died in London, his funeral being attended by churchmen as well as dissenters. Commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with a Feast Day on 8 December. Image: christianitytoday.com.