About Me

Christ follower, husband, father, minister, musician.

Friday, February 19, 2010

LENT - from "The Complete Library of Christian Worship" Robert E. Webber, ED.

The Christian observance of Lent may have originated as a period of fasting for candidates for baptism at Easter; the period varied in length and could be as short as one of two days.  Mention of a general forty-day period of fasting occurs in the fourth-century Canons of Nicaea, but the Western church did not settle on the present scheme until the seventh century, when the beginnings of Lent was moved back to Ash Wednesday so that Sundays (which could not be fast days) would not be counted in the forty days.  (The Eastern church still spreads the season over eight or nine weeks.)  The association of Lent with Jesus’ forty days of testing in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2; Luke 4:2) is acknowledged by liturgical historians to be an afterthought that did not affect the development of the season.  The name “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring,” the “lengthening” of days with the approach of the vernal equinox.
            Lent offers the opportunity for the observance of certain biblical disciplines.  In Israelite religion, fasting or “humbling the soul” was directed for the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27, 29).  It was an act of mourning (Josh 7:6; 1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 1:12) or penitence (1 Kings 21:27; Joel 1:14) and was also practiced by prophets seeking direction from the Lord in Crisis situations (Moses, Deut. 9:18 and Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8; both forty days). Jesus assumed his followers would occasionally fast (Matt. 6:16-18), though he did not command it, and his disciples did not fast, as did the Pharisees, while he was with them (Luke 5:33-35).  In recent years the liturgical churches have moderated the strict fasting formerly associated with Lent, and evangelical Christians have never consistently observed it.  Fasting as a means of seeking direction from the Lord is often practiced in charismatic churches but not in association with any liturgical season.  Most Protestant communions that observe Lent have done so with emphasis on additional times of worship or special disciples of devotion and on self-denial in order to redirect funs toward worthwhile causes.  While the Christian life-style of self-denial should characterize the walk of the believer throughout the year and not just during one season, the discipline practiced during Lent has particular value in leading the church to a deeper experience of Christ’s passion in preparation for the more joyous experience of Easter.

- From Webber, Robert E. "Lent." The Complete Library of Christian Worship. Vol 1: The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worhsip. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1993. p 200

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meaningful Traditions?

So it's the national "Blog about LENT" day, apparently.  So I must fulfill my role as a blogger.   My wife and I were talking about Lent last night.  Actually, she was talking and I was listening.  Lots of folks are sharing, tweeting, posting, and updating their status on what they're giving up for Lent.  This brought up a lot of questions.  Rather than give a direct opinion, let me share some questions I was thinking about.  I'm sure if you follow my train of thought, a perspective will come out eventually...

  • Why do we share what we're giving up for Lent?
  • Why do we give anything up for Lent?
  • When we end - or break the fast - do we celebrate that we made it through Lent by indulging in what we gave up?  Is it like the end of a marathon?
  • Is Lent for Us or for God?
  • What is Fat Tuesday all about?  Is it the indulgence before the abstinence?  Is that the point?  Isn't that the opposite of what Lent is really about?
  • Have we reduced something intended for spiritual focus to a religious, or even non-religious practice?
  • Aren't there many events and practices of Spiritual nature that we've reduced to religiousity, or even a secular replacement?
  • Christmas?  Easter?  
  • Why are Christian traditions the only ones that continue to be retained as secular versions, and be stripped of their Spiritual intentions and meaning?
  • Do Christians add to this watering down of tradition?
  • Have churches thrown away liturgy and tradition because it has no meaning, or because those that still practice [Lent] do it for strict religious purposes, and not to grow in their Faith.
Hmmm....OK, you've followed me down this rabbit trail.  I know there are movements and intentional steps by some to brush the dirt and dust off of Ancient practices.  Back when they were designed, they had specific and profound spiritual purposes.  But what have they become?  What have we become because of them?

I read today in Matthew about how the Pharisees ridiculed Jesus and the disciples for not ceremonially washing their hands.
Matt 15:1-2
 1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!" 

It brings us to the same question.  Why do we do what we do?  I think that is the question of the day.  Not what is Lent, or what are you giving up for Lent, but Why do you practice Lent?

I'll probably have to visit this again soon.   For now, I'll let it linger and settle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

All systems go?

Social Mediums (would the plural be Social Media?)
Connecting them and making posting easier.  Is it working?

I'm trying to get twitter, facebook and blogger.com all working together.  We'll see if this post hits all three sites!


Hi Friends,
If you're reading this, then some how you've found out that I'm jumping on the blogwagon again.   Blogging's a good thing if you can keep it up.  It makes me slow down and thing about what's going on with me.  It forces me to verbalize my thoughts and get them out there.  Hopefully what I write will relate to someone else.  Maybe even someone that stumbles onto this blog.

About the Title:
For the past few years now, an old phrase has begun echoing around me.  "Out of the Overflow"  It stems from two different, yet related scripture themes:
Luke 6:45 says The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  (It's also in Matthew 12:34).

My hope is that this blog will be an honest representation of what is overflowing from my heart, and that it is pleasing and glorifying to God. 

The other theme is similar, yet a bit different. 
Psalm 119:171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18b, 19 be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 

I'm reminded of the old VBS song "Oh fill my cup (Fill my cup let it overflow)."

As a worship leader, I grabbed hold of a similar phrase "Worship out of the Overflow."  It comes from the idea that we are to be constantly and continuously filled by the Holy Spirit.  (In the Ephesians passage, the verb "be filled" should really be translated "be being filled." It's a perpetual act.)  Specifically for worship artists, worshiping out of the overflow means that we hopefully have been filled by the Spirit and our overflow is what others are seeing and hearing.  Our expressive worship, our light shined, our fruit produced is that overflow.  We don't have to perform or create enthusiasm and energy.  It is truly not us, but the Holy Spirit oveflowing out of us.

So, taking this thought out of the worship leader context, I really pray that this is how I can live - out of the Overflow.  The reality is, something will always be flowing out, and that will be the reflection of what is filling my heart. 

So this blog is me, overflowing onto your screen, out into the ether that is the internet and blogosphere.