What Do You Think?

So…I’m an evangelical Christian celebrating Lent.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe I feel like we may have thrown out the baby with the bath water in Christian liturgy and symbolism.

I totally understand how we must be careful not let the traditions of men steal the truth of the Word.  However, in studying Christian history it is interesting to see how different seasons and observances came to be.  For instance, did you know that lent as an established discipline has been around since before The Council of Nicea?(325 AD)

One of the first ideas established about Lent, (and the only one I’ll be writing about today) is that it was a fast endured by early converts before they were to be baptized.  No easy believeism there.  I’m sure those converts were pretty serious about their new life in Christ after having prepared their hearts with some type of forty day fast.  The idea here was to remind the believer that they were to die to self and be raised up again with Christ.  Many times baptisms were done on or near Easter, so that the converts identified with the death, and burial of Christ in their fast and the resurrection of Christ through the celebration of Easter.

Some times I think we make it too easy to “get saved”.  “Just say a prayer”, we hear ourselves say. “It’s a free gift.”  This is true.  No amount of fasting or dunking or good works can earn salvation.  However, when we use symbolism, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we bring Christianity from belief to experience.  Particularly when we come to these observances with respect.  Should we stop doing these things because we are afraid that they won’t mean anything anymore?  Perhaps the even greater fear is that people will begin to put their trust in the symbolic acts instead of in Christ.

I know that Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, but fasting is.  And Lent was established by a very early church, a church that only a few generations previously walked with the Lord.

What are your ideas on rituals and church?

4 thoughts on “What Do You Think?

  1. KD – I think you are so right about throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    Ritual which in concept is very different from habit, or routine – is meant to bring us to a place of remembrance, a delineation of time to cause our attention to a specific intention… That can only ever lead to a greater mindfulness of God. In this way those “unbelievers” may actually be led to an authentic journey to salvation – a full awareness, not a quick fix, not a prayer – a journey…

  2. “Do this in remembrance of Me”….Jesus’ words. I think the point is that ritual is for remembering. God, (knowing well the creature He created), has always given us something to do outside of just “thinking about something”….to help us remember something significant. Sabbath, Passover/Eucharist, baptism, (actually even visually seeing the rainbow is to help us to remember something). We participate in rituals individually and corporately so as to pass down from generation to generation the great Story of God’s relationship with us. With the observance of Passover, one is to experience the setting apart of a special meal with the “telling” of how it came to be celebrated for the sake of remembrance. Perhaps today we want the “Holy-day” (holiday) without the religious mumbo, jumbo. We want the day off of work, but would rather have the Christmas dinner without the Virgin birth story….the easter bunny without the Resurrection. Our failure to keep to the point of “remembering” something of extreme importance causes our rituals to eventually become more commercial than meaningful about eternal issues. Of course they can also be meaningless to us while sitting in a church service if we do not understand the significance. We mustn’t ever forget the telling of the story along with the ritual itself. What more can the Church do than give the opportunity of the experience and the telling of the “why”. What goes on in the heart of the participant (as always) is between them and God. About easy believism…I believe it was C S Lewis who said that God wants all of us….we can’t keep even a small part of ourselves for ourselves…..that in fact He wants to kill us. I’ll have to find the exact quote. That doesn’t sound easy to me. The first century church was told first of all to sell everything they had and give it all to the poor…not easy. After the resurrection of Christ you could be put to death for believing in Him as Lord….not easy. Thanks for posting.

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