Monday, February 23, 2009

Preparing for Lent: Parties and Penitence



I found this wonderful gem of a reflection at the St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Durham, NC website, where a good friend of mine is the assistant to the Rector.

Take a read, I think that the Rev. Joseph Hensley is really onto something in his reflection on Parties and Penitence!

I've posted an excerpt, you can read it all HERE...

Getting ready,...almost Lent!!

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Parties and Penitence

February is a short and shifty month. February sees the end of Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. The glorious revelation of Christ, transfigured on the mountaintop, erodes quickly to the humble dust of Ash Wednesday. The revelry of Mardi Gras and Carnivale yields to a call for fasting, self-examination, and repentance.

Is it possible to prepare for parties AND penitence? Many of us will tend to focus on one aspect or the other. Some folks really enjoy the celebration. Others look forward to the days of discipline and self-denial. As Christians, we can be good at both. Keep in mind that Jesus seemed to enjoy a good party (after all he did change water into wine). He also fasted in the wilderness and went off to lonely places to pray.

The contradiction may be difficult to figure. If I am at a party, I want to enjoy myself, not think about what sins I will have to confess later. If I have actually gotten myself to a place where I can quiet down and pray honestly with myself and God, it might be distracting to think about the next celebration. As Christians we are constantly living in this tension, though. Every Sunday we confess our sins so that we might fully embrace the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic feast. Then, instead of trying to prolong our bliss, we go immediately out into the world where we run right back into sin. We feed our faces with pancakes on Fat Tuesday only to smear our foreheads with ashes on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a relatively short liturgical season, lasting only 40 days. We hardly bury the Alleluia before the choir has to begin practicing the Easter anthems. Parties and penitence may seem at odds, but the Christian calendar keeps them close....

Read it all HERE

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