Thinking Out Loud

March 1, 2020

Growing Up Lent-less

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:17 am

I posted this as part of the comments at Internet Monk yesterday. If you wish, I encourage you to read all the comment threads there on the topic of Lent.

Growing up Evangelical, much of the liturgical calendar was foreign to me, if it even registered on my radar at all. Working in a Christian bookstore environment allowed me to connect with people of all denominations, and so I became aware of Advent, and today in our corner of the world, many Evangelical denominations light Advent candles and incorporate the themes of each week in the teaching time. I hope this is more than just appropriation.

Similarly, I am seeing Lent becoming increasingly visible. While some of the above comments have centered on its profile in the Roman Catholic church, I think we can look to the Anglican/Episcopalian tradition for a good model of how to process through these 40 days and also make a better distinction between Good Friday worship and Easter Sunday worship. It’s so easy in our North American and Western European mindset to rush through the observances in light of how we know the story ends. But as Jesus moves toward the cross knowing the bigger picture, his disciples have no such luxury; the story will only become clear to them with the benefit of hindsight.

This was best expressed for us in a Tenebrae service we attended. If you have the opportunity, don’t miss it. There is simply darkness at the end. And you feel it. That day, that holy Saturday between crucifixion and resurrection. Who could possibly know the mind of those disciples during those hours? And then later, you consider that 90% of your Evangelical friends have probably never been to a service quite like this.

To which I say, ‘Lent? Bring it on! Bring on the deeper meaning. Bring on the silence. Bring on the heightened identification of Christ’s death.’ We’ve done it the other way. We need this greater measure of awe, mystery and reverence right now.

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