Adventist Lent

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The Sacrificial Lamb - Josefa de Ayala, ca 1670

The Sacrificial Lamb – Josefa de Ayala, ca 1670

A bit old, but since it’s still Lent, it’s quite appropriate.

On the Progressive Adventist blog, there is a post about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Could there be a way we Adventists can overcome the spectre of indiscriminate anti-Catholicism and embrace of the spirit of Ash Wednesday?

A few snippets from the comments:

I think it would be wonderful if Adventists incorporated the observance of not just Ash Wednesday but other days in the Christian liturgical calendar as well.

Lent is meaningless unless Pascha aquires some religious significance for them. For decades, Adventist evangelists have treated the day as a “pagan holiday,” which could not be further from the truth. The day is only recalculated celebration of the Jewish Passover, now contextualized within the story of Chrst’s resrrection.

I’m with the others who feel that we’re missing out on something by abstaining from observance. Whether it’s out of fear, or the need to feel peculiar, or whatever else might drive Adventist skepticism and repugnance for holidays of other faith traditions, I say, “too bad.” Not only would such reminders be beneficial for our congregations, but they would also foster a sense of commonality and solidarity.

I would love to see Adventism embrace more of the liturgical traditions. There’s a certain rhythm of the year that I think we miss out on when we skip these rituals.

In general, I feel Sabbathkeeping and observing a liturgical calendar are part of the same thing — living our lives by the pattern of sacred time rather than being driven by the secular demands of the calendar. I think as SDAs we have a precious and wonderful treasure in the Sabbath that other Christians could learn from — but there are also things we can learn from them, and for me personally observing the seasons of Lent and Advent is one of those things I have learned.

An honest study of Church History will demonstrate that “Roman and Persian paganism” had nothing to do with the establishment of Ash Wednesday or Lent. … Many fundamentalists attempt to trace Lent to Babylonian fasts (“weeping for Tammuz” in the month of June). The fact that these cults had died out almost a thousand years before should suffice to prove that they could not have had any influence on the ancient Catholic Church. … The earliest record of applying ashes at the commencement of Lent (mirroring the Old Testament practice of accompanying repentance and fasting with the imposition of ashes) dates to about the 10th century. That is six centuries too late for the practice to be traced to “Roman and Persian paganism.” Rather than fear Lent and Ash Wednesday, all Christians should embrace it as part of the heritage of the undivided Church. It is sad that Adventists so quickly dismiss as “pagan” any sincere Christian devotional practice they do not understand.

See also “Sacred Time” at Adventist Today [defunct link removed], and on the same author’s blog, “Ash Wednesday: Come Dancing” – she’s an Adventist keeping Lent.

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