A Pre-Easter Launch By Louis Paul Toscano, Editor-In-Chief
My apologies go out to our church family not only for taking too long with placing new material into this new church wide newsletter, but also for undertaking something better left to those better qualified, that is, taking up the subject of the traditional observance of Lent, a word that I will try to use only this once. In fact, for my introduction that I hoped to write yesterday I rambled about so long that I found myself not taking the content too seriously. Lately I became aware that external observances that I accepted may not genuinely reflect internal attitudes.
Getting back to our Easter pre-season, I recognize that we collectively do not observe this time regularly throughout each day, or for that matter every Sunday within the season. I recognize that many readers and likeminded Christians do not give any special recognition to the observance of this season. That to me is OK as, like with Christmas we witness at least a century of commercialism that kills both meaning and spirit. Likewise, the fasting associated with the season for many became an end in itself. We are I’m afraid too late to write something date specific; but we are in another personal pilgrimage similar to what we experienced in Advent for about four weeks before Christmas. I could do as I did yesterday and ramble on, comparing the yearly changes in the seasons with God’s plans for both Jesus Christ and our walk with Him. However, the people we consider Church Fathers would not approve of the lack of spirit behind the current seasonal practice observed by many. Fasting, prayer and reflecting on God’s grace may become important as we approach Easter; but we can also say that we would not have such things as Sunday School, Bible studies, fellowship groups, youth group, etc. if these aspects of the season were not important all year round.
There was one aspect of this particular season that I witnessed even in the church where I began my Christian walk. Lent was the training period of new converts, or catechumens during earlier Church history, ending with baptism on Easter Sunday. Likewise, after a “new believer’s” training, though today I would have stuck by my infant baptism, I was re-baptized on Easter Sunday of that same year. Now, for instance, giving up some particular food may not qualify as true fasting in some of your minds; but what about the desire of “starving” the sin in us?
Therefore, starting with George Herbert’s timely poem, with the church’s approval, I will share what earlier saints thought on how they wanted the Easter pre-season observed. Some of these essays and sermon excerpts I read yearly and each time I their meaning becomes even more detailed. Also, Jim Mell graciously resumed his series on worship music, undoubtedly under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
I am in no position to suggest anyone do anything particularly special during the remainder of this season. However, in this race that the Apostle Paul wants us to run together, please consider something that you will hear more about in the coming weeks – volunteering with those in the congregation who help maintain the work of Family Promise. As we remember Christ’s death on the cross, let His love help instill in us a resolve to endure our individual crosses. For the brief length of a week – and each of those remaining three weeks for this year will go fast – we can show the love of God to temporarily displaced families who will stay in our church, and perhaps move on to another church, while Family Promise helps them resolve problems with either employment or housing.
Now, readers, you might not believe it; but this introduction was the most difficult part of this new newsletter. However, being that this must gain approval first, I will bring to you thoughts that those who came and went before us shared both in writing and preaching. Enjoy them. Apply them as you see fit. I look forward as every year seeing you all at church during this season.