Well, it's that time of year again - my second time celebrating Lent. I continue to find deeper layers of meaning in the rhythms of the Church year - rhythms that the vast majority of Christians for the vast majority of Church history have followed. And it still boggles my mind that events like Lent used to be what not-truly-Christian "Christians" did.
I'm still using my
prayer beads - in fact, have lately branched out into other types of
prayer beads. (As usual, various Christian sects are good at coming up
with their own version of something.) Since last year, I've learned
that there are Anglican prayer beads, Lutheran prayer beads, Orthodox
prayer beads, and of course Catholic prayer beads (the rosary). I have even started a ridiculous project organizing a Book of Common Prayer-inspired collection to
use with Anglican prayer beads. When I have enough time to string together a coherent sentence at a higher level than blog-level, that is. (So when my kids move out?)
Lutheran prayer beads were apparently developed for use primarily during Lent, so I'm finding them a good addition for this year. There aren't extensive resources out there about them, but I did find a good illustration of praying through Luther's Small Catechism with it that I've started using.
I remember talking with a
friend when I was in Fundyland about someone in our circles who was related to
Garrison Keillor. Of course, we also discussed how she was a
real Christian and so sad that he was not, being a Lutheran and all... Clearly I had no exposure to the Small Catechism then, because it's good stuff. Better, clearer, orthodox-er theology than just about anything I was exposed to in Fundamentalism - despite hours upon hours of "preaching", camps, and completing a degree at Fundamentalist University. Clear
salvation by grace through faith. Absolutely nothing in it that a Fundy
would object to - as long as he/she didn't know it was from a Lutheran source, of course.
Both in the Small Catechism and the Ash
Wednesday service today I was
impressed at how penitence is balanced with God's love and desire to
forgive. Penitence is a good thing, a healthy thing - but its only remedy is God's love. In Fundamentalism, sinfulness was emphasized
excessively, and the solution to the sinfulness was to make yourself
better, try harder, just stop being such a wicked sinner.
It's so different now on the outside. Outside of Fundamentalism, penitence has its place - and its
place is wrapped in the love of God. "Trusting in the mercy of God, assured of the promises already made on your behalf, know that God forgives you."
A truly happy Lent to you, full of the loving-kindness of God.