“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
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?
Justin Bieber’s bangs, March Madness and Lent
Why do we care about Lent?
Mining Justice: Lent [Mennonite Central Committee]
Lent Planner [AMBS]
Celebrating the Power of Lent for 25 Years
At-Home Lent Resource
Blogging Through Lent (US Mennonite Brethren)
Women’s small group connects as they blog during Lent
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.
(1) THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT
By Carolyn Schorle
(2) See ‘Ezekiel Chapters 8 to 11 the Glory of the Lord departs’
(3) See: A Traditional Calendar of Christmas for Mennonites or Catholics?
“What is Ash Wednesday?”
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
Note: For further research on Lent, see:
Lent: Call to Conversion
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:
SIXTH SUNDAY OF LENT
April 17th, 2011
…Maundy Thursday Tenebrae
…Lectio Divina in the Library Meeting Room on Easter Sunday
***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: