St Photine, as the ancient church has named her, continues to guide this part of our Lenten journey. Yesterday I was invited to conduct a house blessing on a women’s and children’s shelter. It was a multicultural context and included a smoking ceremony conducted by a Noongar elder (a smoking ceremony involves using the smoke from smouldering indigenous plants to ward off harmful spirits). Rather than conduct Christian prayers in isolation from the welcome and cleansing rites of our ancient aboriginal culture, we consulted to see whether our rites could be enacted in a visible and explicit complimentary manner. And so we did, teaching and explaining as we went. As each area was cleansed with the smoking ceremony, so Christian prayers invoked the comfort and protection of the One who creates and recreates, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…“, said Jesus to Photine, who was grappling with cultural differences about how Jews and Samaritans approached worship rites.
I think those who were gathered there entered such an experience. Not on this mountain or that – but in spirit and truth.