Somewhat Muddled Musings

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do we say Happy Ash Wednesday?

I come from a tradition of faith that really doesn't have much in the way of liturgical roots, and it's quite proud of that fact. Not all Protestant traditions are that way as some are firmly rooted in a liturgical season and celebrate well, but us most mainstream Baptist churches and non-denominational churches, liturgy is to much like Catholicism, and we left that a long time ago. Russ and I used to attend a Baptist church where liturgy was embraced. It was a blend of the theology we embraced (for the most part) and an Episcopal-esque observance of faith. I loved that church. I can't even say why, but my soul was happy there. We did have some issues and ended up leaving that church, but my soul still mourns at times.

So, I find myself returning to some of those traditions we left behind there. I want more liturgy in our worship experience. I love the view of our faith of old..and not the new tradition where worship notes from saints gone by are looked upon as being part of 'that' style that we just don't do here. I don't know how better to put what I feel, but I wish our church, our tradition, held on to some of the traditions that they left behind with Luther's list.

So, I've wanted to embrace Advent for more than a countdown to how many days before Santa gets here. I want to observe Lent, in all of it's misery and sacrifice and ashes. Our tradition doesn't do that at all. Sure, we have the 1-4th Sunday of Lent mentioned during services, but there's no observance in between. And granted, Lent is not a Biblically mandated observance, but we Protestants don't observe those either - we leave that to our Jewish & 7th Day Adventist brethren to do. This year, we're hoping to remedy that and embrace a tradition from our Catholic and Episcopal friends...we're observing Lent.

Years ago, my best friend invited our family to observe Passover with them. It was one of the holiest days I've ever experienced. We didn't fall down weeping or spend our time with our hands in our laps never saying a word, or looking forlorn and grief stricken. We joked, we communed, we ate together, we learned, we worshipped, we hoped, we praised, we were in awe. We knew that our observance of Passover was something that had been done for thousands of years, we knew that the promise of Elijah had been made flesh (and we didn't have to hope he'd show up anymoe!) and that the Passover promise was fulfilled in Christ. We saw it as not a mournful observance of awful food and misery, but as a celebration of a Promise fulfilled at the Cross. I want our faith to be like that all the time.

Even in this season of self-sacrifice where we mourn over what we give up, focusing on how it's more about us than Him, the burden of Christ's death is something to be mourned, but his Resurrection is to be celebrated! We are so unworthy, yet His death has brought new life to us all! Surely we should cower before the Lord in all of our misery, yet I see that as a pride thing..we're just too awful for You to love us..forget us..go on..we know better than You. I do see Lent as a time to remind us that we ARE unworthy, and it seems to focus on that so much, but I see the hope in His sacrifice that we have HOPE and JOY and LOVE. So am I wrong to say Happy Ash Wednesday?!

Our sacrifices are insignificant in comparison, but we're doing them as an observance...a fast. The boys are fasting from candy..something dear to them both. I'm fasting from soda..something that is so ingrained in me that it's truly an addiction. I don't know that Russ has found his, or if he will share. I pray fervently that this sacrifice to Christ is more than just a 40 day sacrifice, but a life-long one that benefits me in the short term as well as the long term as I learn to rely on Him to deliver me from something that has caused so much strife in my body and my mind. I also pray that it does not become a pride issue for me...but that it is truly a gift to Christ...that sin that separates me from Him.

Today, the boys and I are going to make a salt dough crown of thorns to use as a center piece, and we'll go buy some purple cloth today to display it upon the mantle. I'm finding it sad that we don't decorate our house with the same fevor and joy for our Holiest of days the way we do for Christmas. There's so much guilt and death involved in this observance, but shouldn't our focus be on the fact that there is so much Hope? There is a Promise that the guilt and misery doesn't have to follow us...that we have been given New Life. We celebrate that in non-religious ways with everyone in the spring. So why don't we, as Christians, celebrate this season with even more joy than Christmas? I surely don't want plastic crosses that light up and play Old Rugged Cross, and strings of plastic Easter eggs hanging from the roof line, or to make even more of the Easter Bunny, but I do wish we saw this season for more than we've let it become.

So today - we observe, we talk about what it means to us, we give reverence where it is truly deserved. And we look, with hope, to that Cross...knowing that His Death brings us the promise of Life...not death.


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