Lent, the New Mennonite Tradition

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of an ancient but relatively new tradition that the Mennonites have taken on, as the following examples from the March 2014 issue of their Mennonite Brethren Herald magazine[1] confirm.

Example #1

What I like about Lent
by Dora Dueck

Lent was not part of my experience growing up in a Mennonite church. It was something that “others” did (read: Catholics), and when one is young, what those others do often seems vastly inferior to what one’s own people do. We celebrated Good Friday and Easter and that was enough. Lent had an aura of gloominess and “works righteousness” about it, and we were beyond all that striving and uncertainty and climbing the stairs to heaven on our knees. (I speak as a child.)
But in the meanwhile, many Mennonite churches, including my own, have adopted various practices of the liturgical calendar, and I’ve come to appreciate Lent’s invitation to reflection, to deep consideration of Christ and the cross, to give up or to take on. To see oneself as one is: as in the words of Thomas Merton, “I walk from region to region of my soul and I discover that I am a bombed city.” To hear oneself named “Beloved” in the midst of that desolation.
One can do this any time, of course, but Ash Wednesday with its formal beginning and the six Sundays leading up to Easter with their liturgies and sermons and reminders are helps along the way.
So it’s a good time. But one of the things I like best about Lent is that it’s not a big deal in the wider culture. It’s not commercial. Having ashes imposed (I love that word for this ritual) to mark repentance and awareness of being “dust” seems by now, in fact, the strange activity of a strange minority . . .

From here: http://mbherald.com/what-i-like-about-lent/

Note: Thomas Merton is thought to be the greatest popularizer of interspirituality and said “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.”[2]

Example #2

The Season of Lent

The church has historically focused the 40 days leading up to Easter (mirroring Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry) on three aspects of discipleship: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.
Prayer:
Commit to a specific exercise for these 40 days; a predetermined time of day, a written or memorized prayer, the use of the Psalms, connecting prayer with a specific activity.
For example, what if you vowed to pray for “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) every time you put on your shoes?
Fasting:
Commit to a specific discipline of self-control; abstain from a particular food for the duration, regularly give up one meal, avoid one of your regular leisure activities.
For example, what if you let the drama of your favourite TV shows unfold without your observing eyes for 40 days?

From here: http://mbherald.com/the-season-of-lent/

Note: Mennonite churches have not historically focused on the man made religious rituals in the 40 days leading to Easter.[3]

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/march-issue-2014/
[2] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/merton.htm
[3] For further research into the history behind these traditions, see:
Nimrod Part 9: The real meaning of Ash Wednesday and Lent http://biblepaedia.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/nimrod-part-9-the-real-meaning-of-ash-wednesday-and-lent/
Nimrod part 15: Lent and Tammuz the Solar god http://biblepaedia.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/nimrod-part-15-lent-and-tammuz-the-solar-god/

Related:

What is Ash Wednesday? http://www.gotquestions.org/Ash-Wednesday.html

What is the meaning of Lent? http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-Lent.html

Bent on Lent https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/bent-on-lent/

Mennonites, Lent, and Spiritual Direction (Updated) https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mennonites-lent-and-spiritual-direction/

For research purposes:

Exploring a Lenten practice of sabbatical http://www.themennonite.org/bloggers/timjn/posts/Exploring_a_Lenten_practice_of_sabbatical

Christian Calendar
http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Christian_Calendar

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