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Ash Wednesday’s Early Morn (The Day After) from Liturgical Folk

Ash Wednesday’s Early Morn (feat. Lauren Plank Goans) is a musical setting based on the Collect (focused prayer) for Ash Wednesday from the Book of Common Prayer.
I know today’s Thursday, but expect non-conformism to express itself through the season.
It is part of Lent, an album recorded under the name Liturgical Folk, “a music project that centers around Nelson Koscheski’s religious poems set to Ryan Flanigan’s folk tunes.”
I’ll feature the rest of the songs in the weeks leading up until Easter.

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It’s Always The Right Time Of Year To Celebrate The Victory Of Christ (via Nick Batzig)

Various observations by the church through a calendar year may bring helpful themes to mind, but they should never eclipse the central theme that is constant reality.

Nick Batzig writes about Lent, concluding:

Wherever one falls on the spectrum of adherence to elements of the Liturgical Calendar, we must learn to live our Christian lives constantly in light of the once-for-all atoning death and resurrection of Jesus. We must always live and worship in dependence on the One who ascended to the right hand of the Father and is our great High Priest ever living to make intercession for us. We must live our Christian life in union with the One who cried out “It is finished,” even as we anticipate His return. All of our worship practices must coincide with those truths and must be derived squarely from the prescriptive elements of Scripture and the example of the Apostles. To that end, it will be an enormous benefit for us to submerse ourselves in the Scriptures and in the rich repository of Reformed, Puritan and Post-Reformation writings on worship.

Read the whole post at Reformation 21.

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A Seasonal Reflection For Our Local Newspaper

I seem to be getting back into writing articles for our local newspaper, The Border Watch.
This one was published today, with the editor titling it ‘Easter A Season To Focus On God’.
Maybe I’ll start working on titles as well.
Next week I’ve got some ideas arising from a story about a man who turned a first-class plane ticket into 300 free lunches.


Years and years ago, I was approached in a supermarket aisle by a lady who was clearly unhappy. She came up waving a can of fish toward me, and mentioned that the product was never on special at this time of year. Satisfied that she’d shared her annoyance with someone she purposefully strode off toward the checkout, can clasped firmly in her hand. I doubt I was the only one who heard about the situation.
Some of you may have guessed what was going on, others might be mystified. The time of year was Lent.
Lent is a time of forty days that lead up to Easter. That’s why it begins on different Wednesdays (Ash Wednesday) each year. Now, my own tradition doesn’t generally observe the season of Lent, but many other Christians do.
Generally observance involves actions of worship, prayer, sorrow for sin, charity, and self-denial. These take place in church and personal settings. It’s also why the lady in question was eating fish.
The custom seems to be inspired by a desire to mark and remember the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism. The Bible recounts the faithful resistance to temptation that Jesus demonstrated during that time.
Sometimes such observances can become about us. I can’t remember how far into Lent my encounter with the lady in the supermarket took place, but denying yourself meat and getting aggravated about the price of tinned fish isn’t exactly the spirit of Jesus that we’re meant to focus on.
I was recently reminded how the benefit of such times is not found in us trying to be like Jesus, but in remembering how different Jesus is from each of us.
Jesus didn’t grudge his time in the wilderness or see it as a burden. He willingly endured the time spent there on our behalf.
Jesus was tempted to receive physical sustenance, personal security, and power in relationships apart from God. He rejected these and trusted in God for their provision.
Christians acknowledge that we give in to these sorts of temptations all the time. We don’t need forty days to realise it, any twenty-four hours will usually do.
So, if you see Christians preparing for Easter in any variety of ways, hopefully they’re focussing on the difference between themselves and Jesus, the fact that Jesus is the only faithful and obedient one, the unique one who is qualified to redeem God’s people. As each of us reflects on our own inadequacies, a season such as this enables us to focus on the one who God sent to be so much more than merely adequate on our behalf on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

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Lenten Observance

I’m a Protestant, you know.
It’d be worse if I only did this sort of thing this time of year.
(There’ll be something more serious tomorrow, I promise)

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A Better View Of Lent

My feed-reader is filling up with a variety of reflections on Lent.
I’m among those who are not practitioners.
This piece by Sarah Condon at Mockingbird is very constructive in reminding us that Christian devotion must focus on what Christ has done, not on efforts to emulate that which he alone could do.

An excerpt:

What Jesus did in the desert and what we attempt to do at Lent are almost wholly unrelated.
I would argue that Lent is not about us giving something up. In fact, it is not about our actions at all. Lent is a moment when we watch Jesus from afar. We are on the other side of the desert, watching him deny himself, bearing witness to his teachings and miracles, observing the disciples failing to stay awake, knowing that the agony of the cross is close at hand. Lent is not sad because we can’t eat carbs. Lent is sad because we are forced to watch the slow, deliberate movement of our Savior from his ministry to his cross. And it reminds us of our sin and our powerlessness over it.
We were not in the desert for 40 days fending off the devil and all manner of temptation. Jesus was. For us. Because we are sinners. And as such, we would have taken all the devil offered.

Read the rest here.