Friday, March 14, 2008

Some Evangelicals discovering Lent, Confession and Penance.

Feeling Renewed By Ancient Traditions -  Annotated

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Evangelicals observing Lent?

Fasting, and giving up chocolate and favorite pastimes like watching TV during the 40 days before Easter are practices many evangelical Protestants have long rejected as too Catholic and unbiblical.

But Lent -- a time of inner cleansing and reflection upon Jesus Christ's sufferings before his resurrection -- is one of many ancient church practices being embraced by an increasing number of evangelicals, sometimes with a modern twist. The National Community Church, which has three locations in the District and one in Arlington County, updated the Lenten fast by adding a Web component: a 40-day blog, where participants from as far away as Australia, Korea and Mexico discuss their spiritual cleansing.

This increasing connection with Christianity's classical traditions goes beyond Lent. Some evangelical churches offer confession and weekly communion. They distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday and light Advent calendars at Christmastime. Others have formed monastic communities, such as Casa Chirilagua in Alexandria, modeled on the monasteries that arose in Christianity's early years.

"Evangelicalism is coming to point where the early church has become the newest staple of its diet."

Experts say most who have taken on such practices have grown disillusioned with the contemporary, shopping-center feel of the megachurches embraced by baby boomers, with their casually dressed ministers and rock-band praise music.

Instead, evangelicals -- many of them young -- are adopting a trend that has come to be known as "worship renewal" or "ancient-future worship.

"It is the same style of meditation that is basically being performed by Eastern religion practitioners," said Deborah Dumbowski, who with her husband, Dave, started an Oregon publishing house, Web site and 25,000-name e-newsletter to oppose the incorporation of such elements into evangelical worship. "It's being presented as Christianity, and we're saying this isn't Christianity -- not according to what the Bible says. . . . We believe it really does deny the gospel message."

Defenders, however, refute that devotees of such practices are straying from bedrock evangelical beliefs.

1 comment:

kozimom said...

Hmmm, this actually sounds like MY family! Actually, I see this more and more amongst protestant homeschoolers! We do Advent complete with wreath that we light and have a family worship time around; we celebrate St. Nicholas Day, St. Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day; we observed Ash Wednesday this year as well as some Lent observances.......It's these traditions that I/my family really, really love! And yet, my sister can't stand them - she really dislikes traditions. I guess Christendom is filled with all kinds!
Actually that is why I think there are different "denominations" within the Church. One of my music profs (who went on to obtain a doctorate in hymnology) told us that there are different ways that Christians "feel" worshipful. Some really "like" beauty and form - candles, flowers, stained glass windows, liturgy etc.; some enjoy fellowship - having coffee after church is the best time of all!; some love contemplation - and so you have the quieter, more contemplative types of churches; some long for experience - holy rollers, perhaps?; some absolutely love Bible study, and Heaven will be one big couch,if you know what I mean; and to some social activism is what really causes them to worship the Lord - and they just want to get out there and transform the World. Interesting, eh?