Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lent day 3- how does this relate to my last post?

LORD may I find you out in the wilderness, and be ready when You reveal yourself to me be it through water or fire.
LORD take all presumptions from me, that I may listen to You, not my assumptions about You.
These were my prayers last night. I wrote them down. Now this evening, after fussing over defense of Lent all night, I look at my prayer afresh. If nothing else Judah is poking at a point beneath my presumptions, if that is so, am I ready for what may be revealed in that?
My mind finds two possible points of revelation here. The first would be "Oh, shoot Judah’s right." The second would be that I’ve found a little muscle to defend what I believe in.
This I must think on.
Good night and Peace,

A Defense of Lent

I have been beseeched by Judah to not celebrate Lent. I’ve considered his arguments and have decided I will continue to celebrate Lent.

The crux of Judah’s argument is that Lent is a Pagan practice brought into Christianity by Constantine’s Rome. He further wonders why Protestant churches would practice such a big C Catholic tradition. I’ll elaborate as best I can.

It may be true that Lent wasn’t officially commanded by Rome until 360, but that wasn’t the first time it was "addressed." Lent was practiced in the 1st century. We know this from reading the Didache, (Lent is referred to as the "Great Fast") one of the earliest Christian works, perhaps even a product of the first apostolic council (Acts 15:28). Further when one looks at some of the sites Judah cites you can find many contradictions. For example Lent is said to be 40 days celebrating Tammuz’s death and resurrection, yet it is also said that Lent was celebrated for 40 hours "falsely believing that only 40 hours had elapsed between Christ’s death and resurrection" and still other sites claim "people did not observe Lent for more than a week," and still others "for one or two days." So was Lent 40 days imposed by a demi-Pagan Empire or in existence before that but shorter?

In addition I would argue that just because something can be found in a pagan tradition doesn’t mean it must have been put atop and corrupted Christianity. Otherwise stuff like this, this, this and this present a real problem. One solution to the whole issue is to look at C.S. Lewis’ conversion at the hands of Tolkien. This problem of myth was a major stumbling block to him, but he eventually saw all these other pre-Christian traditions as an innate human yearning for the truths of Christianity (I may have botched his logic there, if someone can sum it up better please let me know).

Next there is the issue of Easter being celebrated continually on a Sunday instead of moving it around as Passover is. The Restored Church site argues Jesus was resurrected on Saturday night. Scripture is a little unclear as to when Jesus died (as this site insists this would be 72 hours before Jesus rises this is an important fact); John’s chronology puts Jesus’ death on the 15th of Nisan, the other Gospels claim it happened on the 14th. None the less let’s assume the site is correct, Jesus rose on the Saturday, that still means the Jesus movement didn’t know about the resurrection until the women found the empty tomb on that Sunday morning. So I would argue Easter is celebrating the realization of the Messiah’s resurrection. Also, on one of the sites it is argued that the date of Easter is determined by the sun, unlike Passover which is determined by the moon. This is not true, Easter is determined by the moon as well.

As for the overall difference in dates between Easter and Passover this has to do with a very long history between Christian Judaism and Mainline Judaism in which these two brothers ended up squabbling. Mainline Judaism was trying to distance itself from the new cult (as the Romans tended to respect ancient religions like Judaism, but squashed new movements like Christianity) and then Christianity was trying to distance itself from Judaism after the Great Revolt and the Bar-Koxba revolt.

As for Judah’s question of why protestant Churches would practice a Roman tradition it is quite simple. There were two (maybe more) lines of thought around the time of the Reformation, one was that all Catholic practices that went against scripture should be thrown out (this is the Lutheran view). The other was that all Roman practices that were not explicitly sanctioned by Scripture should be thrown out. So, a Protestant church that follows the Lutheran model could look at Lent and say there is no where in Scripture that rejects the practice so it is acceptable.
And I hope that helps. If anyone would like to add something please do.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Lent Day 2

God listens to us, so let us speak to Him (Ex. 2:24)
God is surprising, so watch always, there will be unexpected things, big and small, baskets and stars. (Ex. 2:5, Mat. 2:2)
God watches always, so act as if the whole world watches, even when alone, and act as if none watch, even when the whole world watches. (Ex. 2:12)
There are many doers of violence and oppression. There are those who face loss of family, country, and life. Pray for all of them. (Ex. 2:12, 15, and 22. Mat. 2:13, and 16-18.)

And I pray:
Lord, even as I pray I ask that I may I trust more fully that You listen, and therefore raise my voice to You.
Lord, may I watch for those in need, and those signs of You. The baskets in the river, they too are from you.
Lord, may I have the firmness of character to act the same alone and unwatched as I would being watched. May I have a consistency born of the humbling fact of my creaturelyness. Father, you always watch, Son you were flesh like me, Spirit, you are with me.
Lord, I pray for the safety of the orphans, exiles, and those threatened with Genocide. May you take away the violence from those who would bring it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ash Wednesday reflections of Exodus ch. 1/ Matthew ch. 1

I've started both of my Lenten disciplines. So far so good on the not eating meat thing.
As for my reflective bible readings here is a prayer I came up with after reading Exodus chapter 1 and Matthew Chapter 1:
LORD, entering the desert of Lent I pray (Ex. 1:1-5, Mat. 1:1-17)
for a deeper knowlege of the people in my family, recognizing the authority that comes with their position and also recognizing the person behind the title, that they are more than what they are in connection to me.
LORD, entering the desert of Lent I pray (Mat. 1:19)
that I may be more aware of the hurt and pain of others, but also, when I leap down to help pick them up that I may do so with a much greater discression than I have in the past.
LORD, entering the desert of Lent I pray (Mat. 1:1-17)
that I may find myself and my importance in proper proportion to all those that have came and all those who will come, recognizing both my smallness in light of history and my responsibility to not only the present and the future, but also to the past.
LORD, entering the desert of Lent I pray (Ex. 1:11-12, 16)
that I may remember and lift up those who sweat and toil, who are disrespected to the point of destruction.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit I pray.

In other news this month's Foundation is up.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Antagonists of the Emergent Church Emerge

I posted a while back about my lack of knowledge about the Emergent Church. I’m still pretty unclear about the aims of the movement (though this is my own fault, I’ve not really looked into the issue), but I do get a weekly newsletter from "Christian Worldview Network" and at this moment its sole reason for existence seems to be to discredit the Emergent Church. They have a few basic claims about the Emergent Church. 1. Because it is "Post-modern" (I’d define Post-modern as an intellectual movement that has decided that the connection between things is unclear, and is okay with that fact) the Emergent Church is trying to infect Christianity with relativism. 2. Because the Emergent Church practices a "generous orthodoxy" (title of Pastor Brian McLaren’s book) it is pluralistic and universalistic, meaning it accepts every faith system as equally valid. 3. The Emergent Church not only accepts other faith systems as valid, it in fact incorporates them into their worship. 4. The Emergent Church, by incorporating other faith systems into their worship (CWN’s main boogie man is "Yoga breathing" while praying) they are creating End Times type One World Church in direct conflict with true believers 5. The Emergent Church, because of its ambivalence about Homosexuality, is ignoring God’s word.
I don’t know enough about the Emergent Movement to actually comment on any of these charges. That said, I do want to point out that the CWN may hold contradictory views about the Lutheran Church. On one hand Jan Markell in her article "The Emergent Church: A Dangerous Fad or Solid New Movement?" levels that charge against the Emergent Church that links itself too closely with "the Orthodox, Lutheran, and Catholic Church." On the other hand Ingrid Schlueter in "Emerging Apostasy" talks in very laudatory terms about the 16th century reformers, writing, "Scripture alone! was the cry of those who wrested the Gospel back from the hands of the enemy and once again let the wonderful truths of salvation by grace through faith alone ring out. This is our battle. The question of the hour is this: Will we, the spiritual heirs of these saints of old, be found faithful in our time to boldly renounce all doctrine that undermines the authority of the Bible? God help us to stand, Amen."
I guess they are taking the view that Luther and the reformers (I wonder if there is a band named that? There should be!) did a good job by breaking from the Catholic Church and emphasizing Scripture, but perhaps feel that we didn’t go far enough in our worship practices, liturgy, and our believe in having a certain amount of intellectual continuity with the church fathers.
Anyway that’s some food for thought. For the day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It spreads to Chad

The bloody business in Darfur has now spread to Chad! God help us.


As a Lutheran I’m of course excited about Lent coming up. For Shrove Tuesday I’m introducing my Europeans to rootbeer floats (turns out they don’t have "rootbeer" here so I’m settling for "gingerbeer" from Jamaca. I’m guessing it’s the same thing). This year I’m going for the big time, I’m giving up meat for Lent! Those that know me know I’m a really carnivorous person, so this should be an interesting time! I’m also going to write about my daily bible readings (I’ll try to post some of them).
What is everyone else doing for Lent?