Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lenten devotion: an end and a beginning

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
People The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Christians in the Western world celebrate the resurrection today (our Orthodox friends wait another week). It means several weeks of great Anglican (and other Christian) hymns celebrating the resurrection, starting with this morning’s service.

More selfishly for those who adopt a Lenten discipline, this marks the end of our self-denial and/or extra effort.

This year I went for a multi-part approach, which in retrospect was excessively complex — more Pharisaic (or medieval) than Anglican. On the denial side, I gave up chocolate — and ignored the Sunday loophole — which seemed more tough than usual this year. I went for meatless Fridays, as defined by the Roman Catholic Church.

On the extra effort, after the Lent 1 old testament lesson, I started out reading the old testament in Chronicles and Kings . But that fizzled out as I switched to a daily devotional by NT Wright entitled Lent for Everyone: Mark Year B. Beyond the tie to the liturgical calendar — illuminating the Sunday readings — the latter had the benefit that if I missed a day (as I did about once a week), there was pressure to do extra effort to get back on track.

I also attended the San Diego Anglicans Catechetical Academy (held Saturday mornings in Lent). At the 5th session, Fr. Lawrence Bausch of Holy Trinity — the most Anglo-Catholic priest in the SD deanery (if not the Diocese of Western Anglicans) — talked about having a rule of life. This would include more than just daily prayer, but also scripture reading and Christian meditation, including at bedtime (The day of our session, Dennis the Menace had a very relevant cartoon on bedtime prayer).

After Fr. Bausch’s session, I stand convicted of being a part-time Christian. The faith is not just for Sundays or even Lent, but 365 days a year. In my case, having a daily routine for 6 weeks isn’t going to work — I need a daily routine for 52 weeks so that it becomes routine. So this is my intention from Lent 2015 — and hopefully it won’t be used to pave that road to Hades.

Finally, I used the season as an excuse to visit other parishes beyond my own: 7 parishes in the 47 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. More on that later.