Sunday, February 3, 2008

To Lent or not to Lent?

That is the question
Where we are they want to have Ash Wednesday services - complete with Ashes...

I don't understand. I'm sure there is some symbolism for this.
I just don't think that the early Christians saved the palm branches and burned them the next year ... neither do I read anywhere anything about Lent... I think as Christians we should live a fasted lifestyle and not relegate it to just 40 days.

Any wisdom or answer as to the validity of this practice? I fear it is a tradition of man that has the form of godliness without the power.
I guess this is my rant.


Beverlydru said...

This is an interesting question that I have thought about myself.
I chuckled at your comparison to saving and burning palm branches. I do not participate in the whole ashes and Lent thing. However, I have dear friends who take it very seriously and I respect that. I don't find it in the Word, thus my choice is to observe rather than participate. I love the motto of one paradenominational group: "In essentials unity, in nonessentials charity, in all things to glorify Christ." If it essential to someone's faith, more power to 'em. For me, Lent is a nonessential. May you have much grace in dealing with your congretation.

Flea said...

I don't participate in Lent, but I think (not having researched it) that it's something leading to the Passover? I know the forty days lead up to Easter, which happened during the Passover weekend. And it's probably a symbol of purification. Sometimes we need the symbolism to remember to take our salvation and our God seriously. Sometimes the symbolism is a tired ritual, leaving us very much like whitewashed tombs.

For me, I get comfortable and complacent in my place in the Kingdom of God. Lent would be a physical reminder of my status of a sinner saved by grace. It may be that it's symbolic of Jesus 40 day fast, a way to suffer with Christ, remembering what He did for us when we crave whatever we gave up for thet 40 days.

Linda said...

I am not currently thinking coherently enough to comment on this post, but I do have to tell you that you CRACKED ME UP about not wanting to look like your follicle challenged father. Too funny!

Jessica said...

Totally off topic, but can you post sometime about what you are learning in your pursuit of your naturopathy degree?

We don't do Lent in my church (Wesleyan). I always found it interesting that all my Catholic friends in college would show up to 10 cent Wednesday at the pub with their ashes still on their forehead... didn't seem like it meant much.

Julie said...

Merrie, This has nothing to do with your question...
Thank you for your comment to my post. I hear you...the WHY'S and Do you see what YOU have done to me now??? I cannot tell you how much I cried out to God, drove down the street, tears streaming down my face, screaming out at God....WHY?????

It was one of the hardest times in my life. I struggled so much with doubt and didn't know how to find Him at times.

What it all came back to was "faith"....a choice with my will to stand on what I KNEW to be true, instead of what I saw around me.

Constantly I remembered Joseph and his life, what he had to go through and God had not forgotten Him. He had Him right where He was supposed to be. That always gave me hope.

I have found that God speaks through the stories of the Bible to me today in ways I have not known before... Though I have heard the stories for years I have found that there is a story behind the story that applies to my life.

Thanks again for your response. It blessed me.
Blessings to you!

Merrie said...

Thank you for all the comments about Lent. I believe that it was John Wesley that first said that about the essentials, and ended with, "if your heart is as mine, then give me your hand.." meaning if you believe Jesus is Lord, then we can fellowship.

Some people really do get lots of meaning from the ashes on their forehead and the repentance. I know that the early Christians took this time very seriously to examine their lives and try to glorify Jesus.

I personally have not gotten much from the litergy or forms or traditions - I go for the relationship.... maybe I'll post more on this later...

about the request for more on my studies.... I'm working on that and I'll do that. I did some and they seemed to be ummmm non responsive as far as comments, so I thought there wasn't much interest.


marina said...

Hi, Thanks for post love your picture when you where expecting!!
I am so glad I am not the only one and I don't know how to fix it?
I hope blogger does something about it,marina

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a church that never celebrated Lent and was totally opposed to all legalistic Christian traditions.

I have changed my view quite recently. I don't believe in fasting at Lent if it is imposed externally upon us. However, if we *choose* to fast and give the money we save to the poor in the Lenten tradion, and if it causes us to pause and think about Christ's sacrifice -- and a rumbling belly is a great reminder of God's providence -- then for some it may be helpful. Remember though, that the Bible says to fast in silence and prayerfully, not drawing attention to ourselves.

I hope I am making sense. I have been thinking about this a alot over the past week.


Beverlydru said...

This was a good post - I came back to read comments. I for one am very interested in your naturopathy studies! : )

Flea said...

A friend and I were talking this morning about Lent and we agreed to do Lent this year with our families, taking the time to pray with our families every day about and for our "stuff" as well as for those around us, and to implement some kind of fast. Here goes nothin'.

mandy said...


i can understand your frustrations about this tradition. i have SUCH a hard time with traditions without meaning.

but, i've also always appreciated the meaning behind Ash Wednesday. the validity of it is very personal/subjective for me:

since i was old enough to drive myself to church i would go to the Ash Wednesday service. it started when sat in the back of GUMC, probably the only person there under 50. it was a "get to", not a "have to" in my life. and, oh how i grew to love Ash Wednesday. this holy day has always been a special moment between me & God.

its a dark and somber day, but it is such for a reason. the holiness and justice and wrath of God are elements of His character that we don't get enough of these days. as i've come to understand His wrath, i've come to better understand the sheer MAGNITUDE of Jesus' propitiation for our sins.

i'm thankful for the reminder that we are to revere Him. we are to be penitent for our sins, and simultaneously celebrate His atoning blood.

Ash Wednesday reminds me that my forgiveness did not come without a price.

my church doesn't observe Ash Wednesday, so i'll cancel our praise team practice and join my friends at the local Episcopal church this year. i wouldn't miss it for the world....

anyway, if the tradition has lost its meaning, then its pointless. but, if the meaning can be resurrected, the tradition can be a powerful thing.

sorry for my reverse-rant as well!

Maggie said...

great comments and good question!

I wonder what your husband-pastor would lend to the conversation! :D

Merrie said...

It is so much fun to be able to discuss this. I have never understood Lent and just thought it was a Catholic practice for years. I didn't grow up doing Lent - but I was always involved with Holy Week Revivals.

Mandy, thanks for sharing what it means to you. I never saw that side of it. I just mainly heard "what are you giving up for Lent?" and then heard things that were non-essential and trivial, or meaningless. Therefore, I saw it as just a silly tradition of "works", trying to earn points with God.

I guess since at this age and time in our ministry, since we do not normally "do" Lent, that speaks volumes of what my husband thinks of it. He has not really ever had a church just really almost DEMAND it - in fact, I don't ever remember celebrating Ash Wednesday. He said that after doing some research and study in preparatin for Wed, he realized that it is a sacred and holy time - IF taken seriously and with true examination and repentance.

mandy said...

"it is a sacred and holy time - IF taken seriously and with true examination and repentance."

amen, merrie... and i'd go so far as to say that if its not approached with the right heart, then it might be better not to do it. i mean, we're talking about the Wrath and Forgiveness of God, here. these things should be viewed very reverently. Ash Wednesday would not be Ash Wednesday without this attitude behind it.

enjoying this discussion as well..... its making me really really check my heart this year. looking forward to going to the service tonite at our local Episcopal church (yes, complete with incense and wafers and chants!) YAY!!! sometimes its just GOOD for me to get out of my "church comfort zone"...


Flea said...

Merrie, I've tagged you for an easy meme. Pop over and get the rules? :)