Bent on Lent

“Traditionally, Lent was not observed by the Mennonite church, and only recently have more modern Mennonite churches started to focus on the six week season preceding Easter.”
Who are the Mennonites? Mennonite Stew – A Glossary – Lent
http://www.thirdway.com/menno/glossary.asp?ID=121

The Mennonites seem to be bent on ‘Lent’ these days. Just take a look at all the Lenten madness…

Menno Lent Madness: What can we give up for Lent — or forever?
http://www.mennoweekly.org/blog/2011/3/17/what-can-we-give-lent-or-forever/

Justin Bieber’s bangs, March Madness and Lent
http://www.mennoweekly.org/blog/2011/3/11/justin-biebers-bangs-mar-madness-lent/

Why do we care about Lent?
http://www.mennoweekly.org/blog/2011/3/9/why-do-we-care-about-lent/

Mining Justice: Lent [Mennonite Central Committee]
http://manitoba.mcc.org/programs/peace/miningjustice

Lent Planner [AMBS]
http://www.ambs.edu/programs-institutes/clc/workshops/lent-planner

Celebrating the Power of Lent for 25 Years
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/blogs/will-loewen/celebrating-power-lent-25-years

At-Home Lent Resource
http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/resourcecentre/ResourceView/23/6522

Blogging Through Lent (US Mennonite Brethren)
Women’s small group connects as they blog during Lent
http://www.usmb.org/blogging-through-lent

Journey of the Heart: A Lenten Prayer Retreat
http://soulstream.org/blog/journey-of-the-heart-a-lenten-prayer-retreat/
“Journey of the Heart” is being organized by New Life Community Church and Imago Dei (affiliated with the BC Mennonite Brethren Churches)

But is the tradition of Lent even in the Bible? Those inclined to research history have found that it is – but it’s not portrayed in a positive light.

“…is Lent taught in the scriptures? In a way, yes, but was known as the great annual festival in celebration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, the pagan Babylonian God. Forty days before the feast of Tammuz, the pagans held their Lenten season.

“He said unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold there sat women weeping for Tammuz”. Ezek.8:13-14

They were weeping for Tammuz. It preceded the pagan festival in honor of the false belief that Tammuz had been resurrected. Fasting and weeping went on for forty days. Lent, as I brought out before, means “spring”. Lent continues the custom of abstaining from certain foods just before celebrating a fake resurrection. God called this celebration an abomination. God warned his people over and over by the prophets not to learn the way of the heathen.

Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the heathen. Je. 10:1-2.

– from The Observance of Lent by By Carolyn Schorle (1)

Just before the presence of God left the Temple, this was the idolatry taking place in secret that Ezekiel witnessed, while the people thought God did not know about it (2). Just as Israel continued to go the way of the heathen, it would appear that the church today is going the way of the world and her customs.

In light of this it’s disconcerting that the Mennonite Brethren, in keeping with their newfound fondness for the Roman Catholic traditions and church calendar(3), have taken up the Lenten rituals of penance and self denial once again this spring. For example, in the March 2011 MB Herald there are more than a few articles on the subject.

The first mention of this is a Calendar of Lent on page 6, which includes days like “Shrove/Pancake/Fat Tuesday/Carnival,” the day of indulgence before entering the Lenten fast, and confession (“shrove”). Shrove Tuesday is closely associated with Mardi Gras, and is definitely not something the Mennonites picked up from the Bible. The calendar also lists Ash Wednesday (seventh Wednesday before Easter when a cross of ashes may be traced on the forehead at a service) and Maundy Thursday (“Latin word “maundatum” meaning command).

On page 12 of this same MB Herald issue is an article called “On the Lent,” which encourages readers to consider taking up this habit of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday(4) which “seeks to remind us of our mortality.” At the end of the article, for further study, a book is recommended by Robert E. Webber called Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. This is a book about the rhythm of the Christian-year calendar written by the late Dr. Robert Webber who challenged evangelicals to return to the early Christian traditions, reviving interest through his Ancient-Future book series. Before he died in 2008 he organized “A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future” urging evangelicals “to strengthen their witness through a recovery of the faith articulated by the consensus of the ancient Church and its guardians in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation and the Evangelical awakenings.” (5)

By observing the big push for Lent this month, it’s certainly evident that the MB Herald is helping Mennonites answer Webber’s ecumenical call of the ‘ancient’ church to return to tradition – and possibly even to the way of the heathen.

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Deuteronomy 18:9

ENDNOTES:

(1) THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT
By Carolyn Schorle
http://www.biblical-pentecostals.org/lent.htm

(2) See ‘Ezekiel Chapters 8 to 11 the Glory of the Lord departs’
http://www.truthnet.org/Ezekiel/4-Ezekiel-8-11/Ezekiel-Chapter-8-11.htm

(3) See: A Traditional Calendar of Christmas for Mennonites or Catholics?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/a-traditional-calendar-of-christmas-for-mennonites-or-catholics/

(4) See:
“What is Ash Wednesday?”
http://www.gotquestions.org/Ash-Wednesday.html
The pagan origin of Ash Wednesday
http://www.examiner.com/bible-prophecy-in-national/the-pagan-origin-of-ash-Wednesday

(5) Source: Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Legacy
He reminded evangelicals that “the road to the future runs through the past

8/08/2008
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2007/may3.html

Note: For further research on Lent, see:
Lent: Call to Conversion
http://www.americancatholic.org/features/lent/faqs.asp

*UPDATE:

As an added note, another Mennonite church which is promoting Roman Catholic traditions is Killarney Park MB Church, Kelowna, B.C., as their April bulletin reveals:

WORSHIP SERVICE
SIXTH SUNDAY OF LENT
PALM/PASSION SUNDAY

April 17th, 2011

…Maundy Thursday Tenebrae

…Lectio Divina in the Library Meeting Room on Easter Sunday

-http://www.kpmbchurch.org/bulletins/20110417.html

____________________

***Update: Video (watch carefully): Lenten Guided Prayer 2012
Mennonite Church Canada
A tutorial that introduces the Lenten Guided Prayer process developed by the Mennonite Spiritual directors of Eastern Canada:

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Bent on Lent

  1. First came the celebration of “Advent”, then “Lent”. I noticed that Advent came in very quietly because it fit in so well with Christmas.

    Does anybody remember when Christians began to celebrate the birth of Christ in proximity to the Winter Solstice? Many Christians did not celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, in fact, they never celebrated the birth of Christ at all, because the celebration of the birth of a king was considered a pagan practice. Although we have the account in Scripture of the angels announcing His birth and rejoicing, we don’t ever find the church commemorating the event. With all of the past and present connotations, we need to reconsider ALL of the “Christian” festivals we celebrate, including Easter with its origins. The reference to Easter in the Bible is referring to the pagan festival (before the RC church even existed), which was at approximately the same time as the Jewish Passover.

    The concept of a Christian calendar came from the Roman Catholic church. The Jewish calendar is biblical and prophetic in nature; not that we are required to observe it, but it should carry more meaning for us than the Roman Catholic one. I think the church needs to be re-educated about the prophetic feasts as their meanings relate to Christ. I haven’t seen any evidence of that happening in MB circles! so why promote the RC Calendar year?

    As you mentioned, Mardi Gras is associated with the season of Lent/Easter. What’s next, will the Mennonites by having Mardi Gras celebrations?

    The RC church has been famous for it’s blending of pagan traditions with RC teachings, which is syncreticsm. And now we are going to following their lead? We have been given liberty so that we can follow Christ, not so that we can compromise the faith and dilute the gospel!!

  2. Pingback: Mennonites, Lent, and Spiritual Direction « Menno-lite

  3. Pingback: More House Blend « Menno-lite

  4. Pingback: Speaking of Lent, Contemplative Spiritual Direction and Mennonites… « Menno-lite

  5. Pingback: Evangelicals are making liturgical traditions their own « Menno-lite

  6. Pingback: As Simons Says… « Menno-lite

  7. Pingback: Lent, the New Mennonite Tradition | Menno-lite

  8. Pingback: Why Lent? | Menno-lite

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s