Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Death of Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent, commonly known as Ash Wednesday. This season of Lent continues for forty days and ends Easter Sunday. It is during this time that several partake in a fast of some sorts. This isn't always food, but often things like Facebook, soda, etc. and/or often involves taking up something, like prayer, devotion, dieting, and so on.

However, Ash Wednesday, the season of Lent, and several other seasons in the Church are largely going unnoticed and unrecognized. APU thus far, has placed a substantial amount of importance and time in to Ash Wednesday and Lent. However, these times are often used to educate rather than to celebrate. Much of the student body is unaware of the traditional practices in the church by the time they get to college. The responsibility of ingraining these long-held traditions in the students is now placed on Christian colleges like APU, rather than the Church, and yet they still they often aren't taught.

But who cares about all those old traditions? Those were for a culture that was a long time ago. We should focus on today and being relevant to today's culture. Right? Granted, silent reflection, putting ashes on your forehead, and hymns aren't necessarily ways to draw in a crowd. But it's this vary focus, of success in numbers, that has affected the order of worship and shifted the church so far from what it was traditionally.

"Powerful worship and a relevant message" is the new focus. There is no longer room for responsive readings, prayer, and Scripture. The creeds are virtually non-existant, and when they do pop up, they're seen as defunct and irrelevant. Old Testament passages are hardly used, and disagreeable parts in the NT were "just meant for the culture at the time". Hymns are pushed aside, or revised, and rock bands take center stage singing lyrics that vaguely praise an awesome, sovereign God. Emergent is the name of the game, loud worship creates that craved "spiritual high", and pastors go on preaching about love and social justice.

Hence, the powerful, significant, and rich hymns, Scripture readings, and holidays are seen as exactly what they are, old traditions. There is no more room for such as these in the emergent, relevant church. They now pursue the up and down wave of culture, a wavering, shallow culture, a culture with no roots bound up in Biblical practice.



  1. I would argue that it is things like Lent that move us towards an emergent, relevant church, not away from it.

    The church calendar is nowhere prescribed in the Scriptures, and as such is a creation of man. For some people, worshiping God the way that *they* want means rockbands, flashing lights, and preaching on social justice. For others that means hymns, candles, incense, and a church calendar to celebrate "christian" holidays. However none of those things are commanded by God in worship. As such, I think that both are rooted in the same issue - man wanting to worship God in that he wants, instead of strictly the way that God has commanded him.

    My 2 cents :)

  2. I think bother side effect of events like these in the church calendar is that they create a sense of seasonality that is contradictory to the Scripture. It seems to me that people tend to wait for times like Lent etc to get their relationship with God right; I don't think this is the case for all people everywhere, but from what I've observed there's an element that irks at me; the Christian walk isn't seasonal, it's a life of constancy in Christ that doesn't wait for a scheduled time of spirituality in order to realign, confess, or deny themselves.