Preparing for Lent

Great LentThe season of Lent begins this week.  It’s also one of the craziest weeks of the school year for me, which is a way of saying that there’s a good chance my mind won’t be too much on Lent.  Beyond that, my recent readings in Boersma have me thinking in good ways about my own faith tradition and the broader Christian tradition, but that’s a tale for a later post or two.  Either way, this entry will post on Mardi Gras, which is an interesting concept in every way.  And then tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, when many Christians will attend a service to be reminded of their mortality through the imposition of ashes.  (Already I’ve seen people on Twitter asking people NOT to post #ashtag selfies from the day’s events.)

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At the beginning of this semester, we started a series the picks up in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus “resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem.”  I was first made aware of this “travel narrative” unique to Luke though the works of Eugene Peterson.  And so each week in chapel, a speaker focuses on at least one story from the next successive chapter in the book.  Already we’ve heard about the Good Samaritan, the woes to the Pharisees, the dangers of the yeast of the Pharisees, Jesus’s sorrow for Jerusalem, and the story of the prodigal son.  It’s been a good journey.  And it will end with Jesus in Jerusalem for the week of his passion and the morning of his resurrection.  But we’re not there yet.  It is good to be on the road with Jesus, though.

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In Great Lent, Orthodox priest and teacher Alexander Schmemann calls the season of Lent a journey, a kind of “being on the way” with Jesus on his way to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.   Schmemann asserts that “on Easter we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us.”  Too often, though, we forget the significance of this “happening and happening to us still,” which is part of how Lent enters the picture.  “The liturgical traditions of the church,” Schmemann asserts, “exist first of all, in order to help us recover the vision and the taste of that new life which we so easily lose and betray, so that we may repent and turn to it.”  Whatever else it might be, Lent is an opportunity for “rediscovery” and “recovery.”

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I won’t be able to commemorate Ash Wednesday this year.  I’ll be out at camp with students learning about “the Way of the Cross.”  And I’m not sure what the season will look like beyond that.  I do hope to read W. H. Auden’s Age of Anxiety over the next few weeks (if nothing else, this is an attempt to mirror my reading of his For the Time Being during Advent).  If it’s not particularly clear yet, I hope to be more consistent with posting here during this season.  That will definitely be a discipline for me.  Like I mentioned previously, I hope to use this time to articulate some thoughts on tradition and Tradition, particularly with the assistance of Boersma (as mentioned yesterday).  Spring break is coming up in a couple of weeks, too, so I’m hoping to be extra-fruitful with reading and writing.

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