October 19, 2017

The Liturgical Gangstas Talk about Lent

Presented by Chaplain Mike

Four of our Gangstas have come out of hiding (though they are still not showing their faces) to talk with us about how they approach the season of Lent, personally and in their church traditions.

Also—A big IM “Congratulations” to Gangsta Rev. Angie Gage, who was married on March 18 to John Michael III at her church in Paragould, Arkansas.

TODAY’S QUESTION: We are in the midst of the Lenten season. Describe how you personally approach Lent and Holy Week. What devotions or spiritual practices do you participate in during this season as an individual and/or with your family? How does your particular church tradition inform and contribute to your personal practices?

Rev. William Cwirla (Lutheran, LCMS)

The word “Lent” comes from the word for “Spring,” the season falling in early Spring. Lent is a kind of “spring cleaning” for the soul. As the Israelites once swept their houses clean of leaven in preparation for the Passover, so Lent is a time of sweeping out our lives of all that interferes with our receiving the gifts of Christ. “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Lent is the church’s forty days of purple, in imitation of our Lord’s 40 days in the wilderness following His baptism, with altars, pulpits and pastors adorned in somber purple or scarlet vestments signifying the penitential and baptismal character of the season. In many Lutheran congregations, crosses and crucifixes are veiled in purple or black as part of the overall liturgical restraint that characterizes the season. Following an ancient custom that goes back to Ambrose, “Alleluias” are omitted or spoken silently.

Alleluia cannot always
Be our song while here below.
Alleluia, our transgressions
Make us for a while forgo;
For the solemn time is coming
When our tears for sin must flow.

For Lutherans, Lent is a time of increased devotion. Wednesday or weeknight services are common in many congregations. My congregation is participating with other congregations in a rotation of pastors who are preaching on the topic of Baptism. Typical Lenten preaching focuses on themes from the catechism, such as Baptism, or aspects of our Lord’s passion and the various events leading up to His death on the cross.

Almsgiving and acts of charity are also a part of Lent as we take up offerings for those in need. Of course, this goes on all the time, but there is a particular focus in Lent. Fasting is also part of Lent for many Lutherans, and seems to be increasing as a devotional practice. Some give up favorite foods or “addictive” activities such as watching television.

In past years, I have forgone wine and certain foods, following the example of traditions that have a more rigorous fasting discipline. This year, I have chosen not to fast for a variety of reasons. Unlike the Orthodox, fasting is a personal piety among Lutherans, though you may find congregations here and there who make fasting more of a communal exercise. Lutherans recognize that while fasting is indeed a fine outward discipline, it does little toward restraining the sinfulness of the flesh. True mortification of the flesh comes as the Law has its killing way with us.

As part of my own Lenten devotion, I try to do a bit more disciplined reading, especially along devotional lines. I’ve been reading Gerhard’s Handbook of Consolations and Starck’s Prayer Book along with some other selections from our Lutheran fathers and daily readings in our Lutheran Confessions and our wonderful Treasury of Daily Prayer. My wife and I have put greater effort into our daily prayers at home to restart what had languished somewhat in the time after Christmas.

The focus of Lent, as in all the other seasons, is really not on ourselves and our spiritual discipline, but on Christ, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” As we reflect on our weakness, sinfulness and death under God’s Law, we are also brought to an increased awareness of Jesus as our Savior, that He bore our sins in His own body and in His wounds we have our healing.

In our Lutheran tradition, Lent has some of the finest hymns, typically in minor keys with rather heavy lyrics. This is the antithesis of pop Christianity with its incessant emphasis on joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts. The joys of Lent are sublime and hidden. One of my favorite hymns for Lent/Holy Week is by Paul Gerhardt, a 17th century Lutheran hymn writer. Taking a devotion on the wounds of Christ attributed to Bernard of Clarivaux, Gerhardt focuses on the Christ’s head, beaten and bloodied, crowned with thorns and pale with death.

O sacred Head, now wounded
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown.
O sacred Head, what glory,
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

Daniel Jepson (Non-denominational)

I confess a disadvantage when writing about Lent and its practices.  I have very little background, and am still discovering the fullness of the Lenten season.  Though I grew up in a Lutheran home, we seldom went to church or spoke of spiritual things.  Later, as a teenager, I became quite active in a fundamental Baptist Church, where Lent was not even mentioned (being, I believe guilty by association).

As far as family practices, this has changed as the kids have changed and gotten older.  My children are all in High School now, and I find that modeling the Christian life is more effective than any set practices.  We, of course, attend the special services of our church, and tend to focus our prayers more on the cross.

Personally, I have not been a big practitioner of “giving things up for Lent”, partly because the theology behind this seems a little shaky to me.  Instead, I tend to focus on things which put my gaze on the cross (instead of what I am giving up). For me, this includes reading (either the passion narratives or a theology/devotional book), and listening to music (such as Michael Card’s album, “Known by the Scars”).

Joe Boysel (Anglican)

As we approach the Lenten season, our family begins the process of becoming more and more aware of the need for making some sort of small, personal sacrifice. Like many Christians, we call it “giving something up” for Lent. The youngest children are not always quick to embrace this discipline. One year, I recall driving to church on the last Sunday of Epiphany, discussing with my 10 and 7 year-old sons what, exactly, we could “give up” for Lent as a family. We kicked around a few ideas with no real enthusiasm until my wife suggested we give up television. That’s when my 2nd grader went ballistic! “No, mom, please! Anything but TV!” Then, like a stroke of genius had suddenly overtaken him, the boy said, “I know! Let’s give up going to church!”

And so Lent has not often felt a warm embrace in our house. Still, we think sacrifice is an important discipline, so we try to encourage the children to pick something and see if they can fast that small pleasure for the whole 40 days. Abby and I likewise make private choices about fastings. But, like good Anglicans – who are constantly aware of the calendar – we celebrate every Sunday as a feast day with no fasting; save, of course, for the “special word” we’re not permitted to utter throughout Lent! (Do you know the word of which I speak?)

A corollary to our Lenten subtractions, though, is our Lenten additions. For our family, as well as for our parish, I try to communicate that Lent is not just about giving stuff up, it’s also about adding goodness in its place. This year we added a midweek study at church, accompanied by a simple meal of soup, sandwiches and water. We even handed out small collection boxes, so people could put the money they would typically spend on their evening meal in the box, which we’ll later gather and donate to an inner-city food pantry.

The aim of these Lenten disciplines, however, both in homes and as a parish-wide community, is not simply to feel the pinch of an annual minor inconvenience as a way of remembering the sufferings of Christ. Indeed, it seems to me that we trivialize the cross when we compare our deferred chocolate fix to a crucified messiah. On the contrary, what the Lenten sacrifices and piety practices should do is to disrupt our self-centered lives just enough and just long enough to begin to form new habits and maybe – just maybe – help us grow deeper spiritual roots into the eternal.

I’ve already intimated that I find a strong overlap between personal and corporate practices in keeping a holy Lent, and yet there is more. Liturgically, the church (both local and catholic) enters Lent together on Ash Wednesday. Then, locally, we eat together and study together. There are more opportunities to pray together, as we offer daily Morning and Evening Prayer. On Sundays, we refrain from saying that ancient Hebrew phrase which is often translated “praise the Lord,” and we hear the Decalogue read every week. We also refrain from singing the Gloria and in its place we sing the Kyrie. In other words, the Sunday Eucharist becomes more penitential in its sentiment and the lessons and sermon tend to focus on human obligations of piety.

When we get to Holy Week, we will celebrate a mass on Palm Sunday. I avoid the common practice among many churches that combine Palm and Passion themes on Palm Sunday. It seems too much of a concession to people’s self-centered lives to cram holy week into a section of the Sunday liturgy, but that’s me. Our next mass takes place on Maundy Thursday and it concludes with the stripping the altar. We will also set up an altar of repose at the close of the Holy Thursday liturgy for a mid-day Communion on Good Friday. Our Good Friday evening service will be a Tenebrae service (no Communion), focusing on the cross of Christ. Saturday evening will be the Easter Vigil mass that begins outside the church and in three movements concludes round the altar. Easter Sunday mass will begin at the typical time and will be filled with music – essentially every song using that wonderful Hebrew word! At last, on Sunday afternoon, the priest will rise from the Easter dinner table, stumble towards an ox blood, leather recliner, put up his feet and collapse in deep sleep till sometime on Tuesday!

Finally, I want to mention that I find it difficult to separate my personal Lenten practices from the liturgy of the church, and maybe that’s how it ought to be. Of course, maybe it’s also because I’m a priest who spends every day in the church! But essentially, it seems that the life of the person should be so intertwined with the life of the community that where one ends and the other begins remains a difficult dissection to make. At least I like to think that, anyway.

Bless the Lord, who forgives all our sins.
Joe

Father Ernesto Obregon (Orthodox)

As I reflected on Chaplain Mike’s question, I kept wondering why there was something about the question that kept making it difficult to answer. After all, it is a straightforward question that I could answer with a simple list of services and practices. And, then I realized what it was. It is the word “individual.” You see, during Lent, I and most Orthodox actually become less individual. What do I mean?

During Lent, I, and most fellow Orthodox, become mini-monks. That is, not only does the frequency of our services increase, but we give over some of our “autonomous” self to the Church and allow it to tell us what to do. Both the Scriptures and the Church already tell all of us (whether Orthodox or not) some of what to do. After all, we are told to love God, to love one another, not to kill, to read the Scriptures, to pray, to go to worship on Sunday, etc. But, in Lent, among the Orthodox, the Church becomes more specific. It is during Lent that I am told that I am not to eat meat, seafood with a backbone, eggs, or cheese, that I am not to drink milk or wine, and that I am not to use olive oil in cooking or for personal anointing (there are some exceptions). It is during Lent that I am told that I should go to worship, if at all possible, on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. But, that does not include the first and the last week of Lent.

During the first and last weeks of Lent, I am requested, if at all possible, to be at worship every day of the week. During the first week of Lent, the Canon of Saint Andrew is prayed from Monday through Thursday, with frequent prostrations (like what you see in tapes of the Middle East). One of our 9-year-old girls kept count and proudly informed us on Thursday night that we had done 297 prostrations during those four days. On Friday and Saturday, there is a special services, so that Saturday we are actually at church morning and evening. The last week of Lent is Holy Week, in which our schedule also becomes being at the church every day.

You see what I mean about becoming mini-monks. This is a time when I give up some of my individuality in order to become a “communitarian” believer. And, I know that as I am doing this, it is not only I, but it is us, here in the USA, around the world, and back through the centuries. In Lent, my individual choice is actually to become less individual.

In fact, among the Orthodox, we counsel you to not add other disciplines to your Lenten discipline without the specific permission of your priest or your spiritual father. Why? Because it is all too easy to fall into the thinking that the more you do, the more you please God. Lent is not about convincing God that you are spiritual. We have already all proven that we really are not, and more than once at that! No, Lent is about entering a time of spiritual training of spiritual retreat–at least as much as one who must earn a living, support a family, etc., can do–in order to grow in your understanding of God, in your understanding of self, and in your understanding of the Church.

If anything, we will sometimes (but not frequently) counsel you to not follow the full disciplines. When is that? When you are sick and have medical necessity, when you are pregnant, when you are nursing a child, etc., etc. And, at the end of it, there is no special reward for those who have kept every jot and tittle of the fast. In fact, we are required to listen to Paschal sermon of Saint John Chrysostom every Pascha (Easter), and have been for centuries. Why? Because it preaches grace. I will finish with a quote from part of his sermon, and you will see what I mean.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.

O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

Comments

  1. Everytime iMonk does these posts, this song gets stuck in my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0crujosNNo0

    Now you all will suffer with me!

    “Here comes the hotstepper. / I’m the lyrical gangster.”

  2. “Personally, I have not been a big practitioner of “giving things up for Lent”, partly because the theology behind this seems a little shaky to me.”

    As a Lutheran I don’t believe there is a theology behind “giving things up for Lent”. Rather, in Christian liberty I chose to avoid something and by that daily reminder I look to Christ and what he has done for me on the cross.

    • I think there is (or should be) theology (with a small “t”) behind everything we do, especially in church. The fact that I have seen at least four or five different theological rationales for giving things up for Lent in the posts and comments underlies my belief that there is not a clear, consistent and obvious theological foundation for the practice (at least in my own mind).

      • Hmm, so everytime there are different positions, then there is “not a clear, consistent and obvious theological foundation for the practice?” You know, the Salvation Army does not practice Baptism or celebrate the Lord’s Supper in its worship services. So, I guess there is no obvious theological foundation for those practices?

        I could go on, but you get the idea. In fact, the argumentation used is the same one used by those who say that we cannot require belief in quite a few things that you would take as proven Christian doctrine, and that is because there are those who espouse otherwise, and interpret the Scriptures otherwise.

        So, be very cautious about the use of that argument, or you will give away the baby with the bathwater.

        • As I tried to emphasize, this is my personal response to something (giving up something for Lent) which the New Testament obviously does not directly address. In this way, I think your comparisons to issues like Baptism or the Lord’s Supper are not apt.

          Of course Christians will disagree on some points. But of the half-dozen or so people who speak of what we give up for Lent, I see a half-dozen or so different theological reasons for doing so (if they list a reason at all). None of these are bad, but the complete lack of consensus does not give me confidence that any of them should be proscriptive for me.

          • Hence it is out of Christian liberty as stated originally.

          • “I see a half-dozen or so different theological reasons for doing so (if they list a reason at all). None of these are bad, but the complete lack of consensus does not give me confidence that any of them should be proscriptive for me…”

            I’ve yet to encounter a nondenominational pastor that didn’t claim scripture as the final authority for their theology, and for their church…but I also see a “complete lack of consensus” in that realm of the church world…on matters like gifts of the Spirit, baptismal practices, episcopal oversight…Oops!…That doesn’t exist in the nondenominational world at all, does it? Even though it is directly addressed in scripture (I Timothy, Titus) etc….and in the first generation of church history (Ignatius, Clement, et al).

            Does that mean that I shouldn’t have confidence in any nondenominational church?

            I don’t think all nondenominational churches have it wrong, any more than I believe that the simple Gospel of Jesus was completely transformed by the medieval church. Listen, all the guys with black cassocks and tongue shaped hats aren’t the debil, even if mama said they were.

            Scripture, tradition, and reason.

          • Lee, I’m not sure I follow your line of reasoning. Is this an ad hominem argument against me for not being consistent? If you have time, would you mind putting it as a syllogism?

            I agree that not everything in the medieval church was bad, but I don’t know who would say otherwise. Seems like a straw man to me.

            “Scripture, tradition, and reason” I can agree with totally. But which takes primacy in areas of conflict? And does personal experience have no part when we are speaking of personal spiritual practices (like giving things up for Lent)?

            Anyway, thanks for your input. I expect we agree on 99 percent.

          • We probably do agree on 99%.

            I think this is what I’m hearing from you…correct me if I’m wrong…

            1) There is a lack of clear consensus as to why individuals celebrate Lent.
            2) Bad theology is equivalent to lack of clear consensus.
            3) Lent is based on bad theology.

            Maybe not the most perfect syllogism, but I think it fits what I’m hearing from you. So, apply that type of logic to non-denominationalism…

            1) Scripture clearly speaks of the need for episcopal oversight.
            2) There is no episcopal oversight in nondenominational churches.
            3) Nondenominational churches go against Scripture.

            I don’t necessarily believe the second one, okay? (Although i do believe in the value of of the three-fold order of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons)…

            I think breaking these issues down into this format may grossly oversimplify. I feel quite sure that you and I are from similar backgrounds (looked at your website), and probably have at least some commonalities when it comes to philosophy of ministry. I left the “relevant church” realm, though, and lead a small group of former nondenominationals, Baptists, charismatics, etc…that are discovering the great value of the church calendar, fixed hour prayer, and other ancient spiritual practices. I’ve had old friends tell me that they’ve heard I’ve gone crazy, “chanting and waving incense and all that stuff” (I’m Anglican…and have never led chants or waved incense…yet…).

            I grew really weary as a pastor of other pastors who believed all Catholics and Orthodox Christians were going to Hell, but couldn’t really explain why they believed that. I was also distressed at pastors who would forget to pick up the grape juice for the biannual communion celebration, and were just flippant about anything related to church history and ancient practices. And revivalist pastors who preached eternal security, but would coerce people into walking the aisle “one more time, to make sure of that salvation”, then baptize someone multiple times, “because they weren’t really saved the first two times”…the same guys who would work hard to convince someone who had been through catechism and confirmed that there was no way they were saved, because they never prayed the “sinner’s prayer” (and where is that in scripture?)…

            I do agree with you that Scripture takes precedent in matters of conflict. Traditions that weren’t rooted in scripture were a large cause of the reformation. But that doesn’t mean that all pre-reformation practices can’t be related to scripture, nor that they lack value.

            I don’t think I’m spiritually deeper than you because I practice Lent, and I don’t think you’re a heathen for not participating. I left that kind of legalism behind at my last “big” church I served at. But I don’t think that Lent nor the Christian calendar should be discounted as obsolete or unscriptural when “contemporary churches” promote the same concepts in different packages…”Forty Days of Purpose”…”Forty Day Daniel Fast”…”Tithe for Forty Days, and If God doesn’t bless you, the church will give your money back”…I’ve seen it all. And it left me feeling kind of like I had sat on a dirty toilet. (Sorry, CM…)

            Hey, despite all her flaws, though, I love the Church…and I would probably love your church….and I love her history, even with the scars…I think we can both agree on that.

  3. Absolutely love that quote from St. John Chrysostom.

  4. Wonderful, well-thought out responses from the Gangstas, as always.

    For Daniel Jepson, I would offer that the entire Christian calendar encourages us as believers to follow the ebb and flow of Christ’s life, according to scripture, throughout the year. It’s a beautiful drama, celebrating His conception, birth, crucifixion, resurrection, etc., etc. Lent challenges us to recall Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness, where he fasted, and was tempted, but chose the cross. As we believers fast during Lent, we turn our thoughts toward the cross. Our fasting is a grief response toward our own sin…there’s plenty of Biblical basis for that. We’re faced with temptation for 40 days…on a much smaller scale than Christ, of course….but we feel hunger, we have cravings, and instead of pursuing them, we choose the cross, just as Christ did. That’s about as scripture-based as you can get.

    As an ordained pastor that formerly served in Baptist and non-denominational settings, it disheartens me to see someone write off what they don’t understand, or what was common practice prior to the Reformation, because we presuppose that the “theology behind it seems a little shaky”. Did we really get smarter as spiritual beings over the past 500 years, so that we find it beneficial to forfeit practices from the first 1500 years of Christianity?

    I would suggest that all pastors should go to amazon.com, and pick up a $2.30 copy of “Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers”. This little book, written by men in the first two centuries of our faith, really shatters the preconceived notions many of us old Baptist/nondenominational folks have about the Church, how it started, its practices, its worship, its episcopal makeup, its original theology, etc.

    Don’t mean to be too harsh…I’ve been in a position before where I saw more value in chasing cultural trends than I did historical Christianity. I guess I “got saved” somewhere along the way…;o)

    • Oh, Lee, don’t be too disheartened. As I tried to indicate, I’m still learning. I kept my post brief because I don’t think I have a lot to offer on this topic.

      I am glad fasting during Lent does all those things for you. Maybe I’m just not spiritual enough, but fasting during Lent has only made me grouchy and self-focused.

      Despite your kind words, I do understand a bit of church history. I am less than sanguine about the process by which the simple gospel of Jesus was transformed into the religious system of the medieval church. I respect many of the practices that arose during those centuries, but evaluate each according to biblical practices and how helpful they are to bring true spiritual life. You note that fasting during Lent is a grief response to our own sin, and I do understand this. However, it seems to me that our brokenness is not something that can be scheduled or orchestrated by the church. Again, I may be wrong, but it seems an emphasis on “giving things up for Lent” is at least as likely to put the gaze on my own effort as it is to help me appreciate the cross more deeply.

      In any case, that has been my experience, and I was trying in the post to describe my own practices (as I was asked to do); I was not trying to criticize the theology of others, and apologize that my words can be taken that way.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In fact, among the Orthodox, we counsel you to not add other disciplines to your Lenten discipline without the specific permission of your priest or your spiritual father. Why? Because it is all too easy to fall into the thinking that the more you do, the more you please God.

    i.e. the Orthodox version of “Can You Top This?”

    Coming from the Western Rite, Orthodox strike me as being VERY into Monasticism. To the point that apparently (from some of Orthocuban’s humor postings) when an Orthodox goes off the deep end, it’s usually some form of “More Ascetic/Monastic Than Thou.”

    • Christiane says:

      I find the Orthodox to be very spiritually alive . . . their music is so . . . well, listen for yourself:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHi-1taeqeo&feature=related

    • It really warms my heart to hear an Orthodox say that quote. Not only that, but it shatters my protestant misconceptions of works righteousness theology they are “supposed to have.” But from Fr. Ernesto’s quote, it seems they have a better handle on grace than many on my side of the fence.

      • Heh, heh, then you will like two quotes from the anathemas that came after the iconoclastic controvery in the 700’s.

        “To those who reject the grace of redemption preached by the Gospel as the only means of our justification before God, Anathema!”

        ” To those who do not believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles, and by them taught us the true way to eternal salvation, and confirmed this by miracles, and now dwells in the hearts of all true and faithful Christians, and teaches them in all truth, Anathema!”

        • Wow. That sounds pretty darned evangelical! Just finished reading Ware’s “The Orthodox Way.” Do to occupational concerns conversion is not an option for me right now, but I certainly do enjoy learning from Orthodox teachers. Do Orthodox ever find evangelical writers to be of any assistance?

          • I love quoting C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesteron, J.I. Packer, John Wesley, the singer Keith Green, the singer Michael W. Smith, Francis Schaeffer (the father not the son), etc. So, I do like various of the Protestant and Roman Catholic writers. The best of the evangelical writers are Christ-centered and have a “warm, personal” experience of God.

  6. Terrific question and even better responses:
    Community, repentance, God’s Grace and Christ our Lord and Savior.

    FYI–Rev Cwirla is a cohost of a FANTASTIC Podcast called the God Whisperers which you can subscribe to at iTunes.

  7. Thanks for the interesting insights and traditions.

    Pastor Cwirla, may I borrow some of your stuff for a bulletin insert at Redeemer. We will pay you handsomely.

  8. I go to an Assemblies of God church, where the usual reaction to Lent is, “Lent? What’s that?” which is then usually followed by a comment about freedom in Christ… offered sheepishly if they suspect maybe the Holy Spirit is calling them to participate in it, and offered defiantly if they know the Spirit’s calling them to participate in it.

    So my Lenten support system is pretty much on the Internet. Thank Jesus for the Internet. And for the Gangstas. Glad you’re back.

    • Thank Jesus for the Internet

      Yea, I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever read that statement…ever.

      lol

  9. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

    Fr. Joe,

    If you don’t mind me asking, which prayer book does your parish use? Two years ago, the Ash Wednesday service I went to was from the 1979 Prayer Book. This year it was with folks who use the 1928 BCP. Our own parish is without our own building, so we did Ash Wednesday with a Lutheran church. As we were going into Lent, I was comparing the 1662 and 1928 BCPs and noticed that the 1928 seems to have more Lent-specific rubrics and services. Anyway, liturgics are somewhat of a favorite topic with me and I was curious.

    • Joe Boysel says:

      Isaac, if you’re still out there, first accept my apology. I’ve been up to my ears in work, so I haven’t been to IM since the post ran. I know everyone is busy, so I’m not unique. I just couldn’t get back.

      Second, we use 1979 BCP. The archaic language of the 28 makes it too inaccessible (you might as well use a Spanish prayer book in my opinion). We do use CofE Common Worship on occasion, which is really good stuff, but until we have an American alternative I feel compelled to use the 79. Besides, I sort of like it. I know about the weaknesses of the 79, but I don’t live under the illusion that a PB acceptable to me would necessarily be any more theologically robust! haha!

  10. Cwirla, for a “variety of reasons” has chosen to opt out of fasting this year. Hmmm…, could this have anything to do with Bacon Mondays? Who’s to say we should eat less durring lent? I say, let’s all eat more! As an act of worship and thanksgiving, of course.
    On a more serious note, I have a catholic friend who despises giving up things for lent. He’ll do fish fridays because he obeys the church, but in terms of giving up onions or chocolate, says he’d rather take up something that will make him a better person.
    As a Southern Baptist, I gave up coffee for lent last year. No way am I making that mistake again!

    • First couple times I observed Lent, I made the mistake of giving up coffee. Not that it was impossibly hard—surprisingly, it wasn’t—but I am SO thankful to Jesus for my coffee, and praise Him in getting it, drinking it, and so forth, that going without it was actually messing with my devotional life. And since the point of Lent is to get closer to God and not farther away, I decided coffee had better stay in.

      Now bagels: THAT was hard.

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

        When I was in the Messianic movement, we’d do a total fast (i.e. NOTHING, not even water) for Yom Kippur. The people who had it the hardest: coffee drinkers. They’d have major caffeine withdrawals that would actually make some of them sick. After a couple of years, we realized we needed to issue some tips to help them gradually step off of it for a couple of weeks prior so that by Yom Kippur it wouldn’t be so bad.

        • It’s so weird how people new to fasting often give up coffee for their first fasting experience. Every year at our church we have people who give up coffee for lent. I often tell people to pick something easier like going without food for a week. I get a couple of laughs but rarely do people take me seriously 😉

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’ve had to stay decaffed since the Nineties, since I developed a sensitivity to it.

            Despite that, there’s something to be said for Decaf Creole, sweetened with a spoonful of molasses instead of sugar or fake sugar.

        • Good Friday is often observed by monastics as a total fast. Non-monastics are encouraged to do that as well, depending on their circumstances.

    • I gave up secular music one year – THAT was brutal! I could barely wake myself up in the morning, let alone go to the gym and work out. Even work was harder without music. It made me wonder whether giving up something so important to your daily life is a better offering or a foolish presumption – any thoughts?

      • To a certain extent I see that as the perfect opportunity to experience the “communion of the saints”. There are and have been many Christians through out the millennia who by there faith had to avoid certain daily activities common to their culture. They could not participate in certain functions of the culture they once were accustom to and they found it difficult to avoid such opportunities that sought to compromise them. Heck, this makes me think of Daniel 1:8ff. Not that you should always seek this type of fast nor does it wholly compare to the sufferings of others, but nonetheless what an interesting insight into the difficulties of staying pure in the midst of temptation.

  11. I just wanted to say thanks for bringing the liturgical gangstas back. I don’t have anything pithy to add, just that I love this series.