Lent Madness: Holy Competition in Holy Week?

March 30, 2015 § 5 Comments

DSC_6879-e1315428467832-297x300Every year around this time, a few people raise an objection to Lent Madness. Couldn’t you have finished it before Holy Week? Doesn’t this seem out of step with our pattern of worship this week? Well, yes.Lent Madness is most certainly out of step with the sacred journey of Holy Week, especially the Three Holy Days.

There is also a deep blessing, a blessing even, in this dissonance. You see, by the end of Lent Madness, those of us who have been voting and joining in the vigorous discussion in the comments will know a fair bit about each of the Faithful Four competitors for the Golden Halo.

Those who “get” the madness will probably have a favorite saint by now, but we’ll also realize that they’ve already received their prize. That frees us to celebrate whoever wins.

This brings us to the journey of Holy Week. One way to understand this week is to see it as a way for each of us to enter intro the very heart of the great story of our salvation through Jesus Christ. We remember the hopes that were placed upon Jesus. We recall his commandment to his friends, and we recall the sacred meal he entrusted them to continue. We gaze with sorrow on the cross and remember how the whole world abandoned God’s precious gift of love. We grieve. Finally, we rejoice in the mystery of new life as Jesus Christ is raised, as we realize that God’s love is stronger even than death.

And in all this, our lives are transformed. Perhaps some part of the story tugs at us, and we renew our commitment to follow Jesus.
That’s just what the saints did. They lived transformed lives, renewed by the Gospel. In their lives we see Christ’s light shining brightly. We learn from their example, and we can carry on our journey knowing that we are able to call on them in prayer, as companions in our journey.

The saintly smackdown has the allure of competition, but ultimately it is about encountering lives transformed by Jesus Christ. Holy Week is a whole bunch of liturgy, but ultimately it is about praising God for the mighty acts of our salvation and about renewing our journey as followers of Jesus.

So I encourage you to do two things this week. In the early days of the week, cast your votes in Lent Madness. In the latter days of the week, find your way to a church and enter into the Three Holy Days.In all of this, we open ourselves to the transforming power of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

– The Reverend Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director, Forward Movement

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