Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thirty Day Challenge versus Forty Day Humbling

I truly love Lententide as it is a very powerful season calling us away from the false worship that we devise for ourselves.

One of the stations that I hear when driving has a 30 Day Challenge in which the challenge is to listen to their station to hear only Christian Music for 30 days and see how it changes a person’s life.  I would actually love to be able to do this.  I truly would.  If only such a station existed where Christian music is what is played.

Rather, all that is available is the pablum found on stations like theirs.  If it were merely pablum, maybe I could still utilize it, but it is also bad theology, false theology.  Thus, they are right, if I were to listen to this for 30 days, I would become the kind of Christian that these songs inspire, one who in self-delusion speaks of relying on Christ while ultimately relying upon my own reason and strength.

Thus I often turn on the radio and listen to such a station for as long as I can stand it, hearing the weather and a few other reports as well as the “uplifting Christian music,” and then I turn it off and sing and hum hymns and portions of the liturgy.

Lent is a time that helps me with this as the entire focus of Lent directs us away from self to the preaching of Christ crucified.

I often am befuddled when I observe how many people choose for themselves songs that consist of a few fragments of a Psalm or other Scriptural selection and twist these into a mindless orgy of delusional “praise.”

The Psalms were the hymnal for the Church of the Old Testament.  They consist of the deepest doctrinal content.  They rarely repeat except with those particularly written as responsive prayers, such as Psalm 136.  Some are quite short and others are quite long.  But they always are full of deep content and are written to fit within the greater life of worship with the coming of the Christ as the foundation.  They teach of the grandeur and marvel of God’s work of creation.  They teach of the fall of mankind and the promise of the Savior.  They teach of the giving of the Torah/Law/Word of God for the enlightenment of mankind concerning the God of grace and salvation.  They were compiled into a grouping together, to be understood one with the other, never as fragmentary praises to stand alone.

While a radio station may extend a 30 day challenge to listen only to their music as motivation to be changed in one’s focus and view, the Church has the 40 day season of fasting and prayer, calling us to be humbled so that we may turn from seeking to be uplifted so that we rather willingly and even eagerly fall to our knees before God to receive His merciful absolution and blessing of regeneration into His kingdom.  Lent calls us to bow down and hear again our baptismal promise of absolution and reconciliation with God.  Lent calls us to turn from the sweet notions of birthday parties for Jesus to the battered and bloodied Son of Man who cried out with our sin for us on the cross of our salvation.  Exuberant cries of “Joy to the World” and “Happy Birthday Jesus” are turned to tears of thankful joy that God would take such suffering from us on our behalf.

Lent is still a time of praise, but of a very different kind than what the old Adam chooses.  The old Adam wants to flaunt the freedom of the new life.  The regenerated man  rises up from being baptized into God’s kingdom and praises the eternal sacrifice of the Lamb who even from eternity volunteered to save the brothers whom He created.

It is quite marvelous to observe the manner of St. Peter after the resurrection contrasted to his manner prior to the crucifixion.  Lent calls us to be turned to this humbleness of spirit, too.  Lent calls us to look to the Holy Supper as our Thanksgiving.  Lent directs our hearts to hunger and thirst for the pure administration of the body and blood of Jesus as our greatest praise of God.  There we bow to His grace rather than to raise ourselves up to our own noise.  There God is honored most fully, even as He Himself has said thus to do.

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