65 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 2-27-20

  1. Kim. That is new.
    I grew up (my first 18 years) in the “old” south.
    I thought I had heard all of them.
    But this is new.
    Good morning everyone

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  2. I was horrified yesterday when I received a text and a photo from my Baptist raised, 20 year Episcopalian, returned to the Baptist Church friend. It seems that she went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and my former Episcopal priest was outside the store offering ashes. The caption to the photo of her with ashes on her forehead was “Drive-by ashes”.
    I wasn’t here yesterday for the discussion on Lent. I know some of you observe it and some don’t. I do.
    I live in an area that is rooted in French history. We celebrate Mardi Gras. The “season” officially kicks off Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. From then until Mardi Gras night there are balls and parades. Ash Wednesday comes and the Lenten season begins.

    https://anglicanpastor.com/why-lent-questions-for-an-anglican-priest/

    Lent is a time of discipline and reflection. Give up something you will notice. Reflect and pray about it.
    “And don’t forget to also “give something away.” Giving away is the twin of “giving something up.” Give away your time, money, and/or resources to serve others sacrificially”

    We are told to fast and pray. Do we do it? Me? Not really. Fasting a a discipline. I think I shared before that we, in the modern world, have lost our discipline and fasting is a way to find our way back.

    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners

    I fasted yesterday. I didn’t completely go without food. I am one who gets “hangry”. I abstained from meat and ate 3 very small meals. I intend to fast on Fridays. I have “given up” a habit of mine. I am participating in a Lenten Group that a friend has. One of the suggestions there is to pick 40 people and pray for one of them every day without their knowledge. I have a couple of people who irritate me beyond rationality. Perhaps they should go on my list.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone that I am right and you are wrong. I am sharing my belief and my intentions. Will I fail? Yes. The good news is I can start again.

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  3. Chas, I worked with a woman years ago who said that.
    Janice: What’s for dinner? Something I made last night. 1 box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, 1 can English Peas, and 1 can carrots. I don’t see why you couldn’t make it with brown rice and frozen peas and carrots although don’t buy the bag of frozen peas and carrots, but two separate bags where the carrots are in slices not cubes. I don’t know why it makes a difference but it does. I also serve it with beats that have soaked a while in vinegar. Today I am adding chicken to the leftovers. Perhaps Little Miss will like it. She is getting “discriminating” with her tastes. That is much better than saying she has become and obstinate, picky, two year old.

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  4. Kim, was your comment about being horrified related to your friend’s comment being irreverent or because of what the priest was doing? I personally don’t have a problem of the priest taking the message out on the street as long as it is well explained and handled reverently. It is a way to get people to thinking about God, Jesus, and the season.

    I sometimes give up things for Lent, but I have not done so consistently through the years. My Baptist church does not stress that, but I heard it mentioned by a retired missionary who came from a country that has a lot of Catholics. It seems to be a cultural, traditional, and denominational activity that can add a bit more anticipation to the calendar day of Easter arriving but it is an optional activity for believers as I see it. I appreciate your discussion of it, Kim, and how it relates to your community. If the weather was nice, it would have been good to do it outside as a reminder that Jesus was outside on the cross.

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  5. Janice, you and she have the same thought about the priest “taking it to the streets and the community”. My interpretation of it was irreverence. I can see both sides and will admit that this particular priest is not one of my favorite people and his sermons are a large part of why I left the Episcopal Church.

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  6. Lent, I used to think the ideas of Lent were silly or worse. As I have aged and learned a bit more, I find that it is rather appealing as yet another tool in helping one to see Christ more fully. Though I have not ever actually done Lent, it has given more structure to my ideas of fasting and self discipline. Maybe this is the year.

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  7. I’ve never thought the idea of Lent “silly.” I just see it as an addition to Scripture, and I’m skeptical of such things. My husband is even more skeptical, and even if I were interested in doing it (I’m not), I would be coming out from under his authority to participate. He is alarmed to see Lent “spreading” across the church. I think he sees it as a sign that we always want “more” than Scripture has given us, as though what God has given us is not enough. I always groan when the season comes up again.

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  8. That is a long article, but I thought it very interesting and insightful, Michelle. Thanks for sharing it. It would be well to recover the truth about submission and meekness. Both are so misunderstood even by we who should know better.

    I was once called meek by a relative. I was quite irritated at the time. I did manage to not say all the things I wanted to say if I hadn’t been trying to be meek. 😀 Only by the grace of God.

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  9. God set up many traditions and sign posts for human beings. We need such things as reminders. Christmas is an extra, but it is a reminder. So is Easter. I have no problem with Lent as long as it is seen as manmade. Our church mostly switches from a Wednesday night bible study to a Wednesday night soup supper, service and dessert evening. The emphasis is on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    This year we have a guest speaker who has been leading the Wednesday night bible studies. He is taking the periods of forty days in scripture and discussing things we learn from them. Last night was the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. He has an interesting perspective since he is a Jewish convert.

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  10. Lent: I thought it was silly in that we are set free in Christ so why would we need or want such a thing. But, we are also to be striving to grow in Him and self discipline is mentioned as part of that, several times. Not that we can make ourselves perfect, of course, but that we can maybe start to think of God ahead of ourselves. One tool is presented in the form of Lent. If it is not the church mandating that we do certain things but offering a skeleton of support for us to work towards some form of self discipline, it sounds like a positive to me. Other tools we use? How about Bible Study, or Sunday School, or devotionals, or encouraging books….

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  11. Kim, out here it’s called “Dash for Ashes.” It’s become quite popular. A few years ago, when the practice was still “new” and cutting edge, a curiosity, I did a story on the new Methodist minister who was conducting the ash ceremony sitting outside a local Starbucks. (He originally wanted to do it from the median on a busy highway but LAPD shut that down pretty quickly.)

    He was a progressive (very liberal) minister and so it didn’t matter whether one believed or not, particularly. I can’t remember his conversations with folks now, but I was struck by how they seemed not very steeped in the gospel at all — he didn’t seem to be sharing the gospel and so I wasn’t clear on his own personal intent in doing it. For some who stopped it was a quick way to dispense with a “duty” (and I suspect to “show” by the smudged ashes that they were among the faithful) — but because of work or other engagements, they wouldn’t get to church — most were Catholic — that day).

    I have found both the seasons of Advent and Lent (and some of the related devotional material during those periods) to be of private help in my own walk. Many of us struggle with self discipline in at least some areas and it’s good to want to deal with those as the spiritual battles they are.

    I missed the call from my veterinarian this morning which came before 7:30 — Cowboy’s developed a large hot spot (he’s always been prone to skin issues) and I’m hoping the vet can prescribe something I can just pick up without bringing him in for an appointment. I’ve been using an OTC spray which seems to be helping but would like to see it clear up sooner.

    Story today is on the a local high school band (michelle’s alma mater) that will be representing California at the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. (and still needs to raise about $20,000 more to pay for the trip). The band has won top awards in LA and the district for five years straight now. The band leader, credited with their winning streak, said she’d call today but she’s also dealing with a terminally ill husband who is in hospice, I can’t even imagine. She asked if I could text some questions (which I will do) so if she can’t call back she can send some quick written responses. I’ve already interviewed the mom who is the “Booster” leader.

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  12. It was heartening that both the band leader and mom were thrilled we were “finally” calling. We’re late getting to this story, and it’s been featured in the weekly, the monthly town magazine and on the local TV news channels in the past couple months. They said they kept wondering where were we? We’re still considered the outlet of record in these parts, which always is nice to remember. Anyway, I’m hoping the later timing might be good as it might help them with the final lap of fundraising.

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  13. Kim, I love that ‘get up’ rhyme. It made me laugh.

    Lent preexists the Council of Nicea, which developed the Nicene Creed that is agreed upon by all orthodox churches, including Protestants; but the Nicean Council did formalize the practice of Lent. Since the Nicean Council comprised both East and West church leaders, both Eastern and Western Churches observe the practice. I appreciate the reminders of the Church calendar. It is set up to commemorate different stages of the life Christ, and Lent reflects the 40 days Christ fasted in the wilderness. I see Lent and the rest of the liturgical calendar, as less of a prompting for me to do something and more of a reminder to rest in and be thankful for what Christ did. I have too many physical problems to be able to safely fast, and the nature of my work means I often deal with more than I can handle of human suffering. As Christ said, ” Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I appreciate the reminder of Christ’s struggle in the wilderness from Lent, and also the anticipation of the remembrance of his death and resurrection. But if the thought of fasting at Lent is more of a burden than a blessing, I would remind you that Christ is our rest. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

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  14. Roscuro, you’ve said it well. That’s my “issue” with Lent, that the focus seems to be on us doing or not doing. A new “law.” But the crucifixion and resurrection are God taking the ordinances that were against us, nailing them to the tree, marking it “finished”–and showing His acceptance of Christ’s finished work by raising Him from the dead. It feels like the same sort of religious duty as penance and indulgences. The ashes in particular seem contrary to the call to let your fasts be private, between you and God. (Not that a church can’t suggest “This might be a good time to fast” when their pastor is in prison, or whatever, but that public displays that we are fasting do seem contrary to Scripture on the matter.)

    Mumsee, studying the Bible (in whatever means, privately or in groups) is specifically doing what we are told to do. The means (Sunday school, Bible studies, etc.) may vary, and no one can say that Christians are biblically obligated to attend Sunday school. But studying Scripture is not an “extra” to the Christian life, and isn’t a good comparison.

    Just overall, I don’t like the “push” for Lent, and find this a hard season at times to hang out here.

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  15. Mumsee, Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany are all part of a yearly calendar of Church fasts and festivals that was adopted formally at Nicea but had ben used before that time as a yearly method of remembering the life of Christ. This link, to a Reformed Church website, provides a breakdown of the most common festivals and fasts:https://www.rca.org/resources/liturgy-rca-basics-worship/liturgical-calendar There is regional/denominational variation of what days are observed, as well as the difference between the Western Church’s use of the Gregorian calendar for dates and the Eastern Church’s use of the Julian Calendar. The dates are determined based on when the Passover occured when Christ died (because the Jewish lunar calendar moves, the Council of Nicea fixed Easter to the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox), and from Easter forty days are calculated to Acsension Sunday (Acts 1:3), and to Pentecost, named for the Jewish feast on which the coming of the Holy Spirit occurred. Christmas is dated approximately nine months from Good Friday, based on the tradition that Christ was conceived the same day on which he died.

    Some critics of the calendar will quote Paul’s warning words about observing “days, months, times, and years”, but on the other hand, the calendar is centred completely around Christ. So long as the focus of it remains on Christ, and not our own works, it is a useful tool. I have often wished I could hear more sermons about the life of Christ. Pastor A preached through the Gospel of John, but I missed sections due to prolonged absences, although what I heard was of enormous benefit. If the Church calendar makes us think and talk more of Christ, then I am all for it.

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  16. I did not know too much about the liturgical calendar until I was responsible for changing the paraments used in the Methodist church where Art attends back when I went there. It was nice to have a refreshing of the colors in the sanctuary for each change of church calendar season. I also had to change the clothes draped at the cross for Holy Week. It is all symbolic and another visual reminder to think more about Jesus. We don’t do all that at my current church. I had a spirit of beingworshipful as I changed out the paraments because it was a sacrifice of time and effort to do that dressing up of the church facility.

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  17. Good afternoon.

    The WELS observes Lent, but I wouldn’t say there is a “push” for it. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what Jesus has done for us. There is no emphasis on “doing” or “giving up” things — fasting or doing the ashes thing or what have you.

    The pastors are very clear that special services for these types of seasons are not commanded in Scripture. I fully agree with Mumsee’s sentiments at 11:23, where she said, “If it is not the church mandating that we do certain things…” and I would continue by saying that then it is not adding to Scripture.

    The church telling people “you must” when Scripture doesn’t say you must is adding to Scripture; telling people “you may” when the Bible neither commands nor forbids something isn’t, IMHO, adding to Scripture.

    I see extra opportunities, where we may choose to gather with the saints, worship our Lord, and reflect on his passion, suffering, death, and resurrection, as blessings.

    Our family attends Lent and Advent services when possible, but aren’t made to feel guilty when we don’t; thus, I don’t feel any push that we should be doing this. It’s edifying when we can, and not a guilt-inducer when we can’t.

    This Lenten season I’m not able to attend either of our worship times on Wednesdays. The afternoon service is during my university choir accompanying time, and the evening service is during my piano teaching time. I will have neither of those commitments happening during the week before Easter, and will find it nice that I can worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday that week, in addition to our usual Sunday services.

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  18. I worked a 12 hour shift yesterday and got up fairly early this morning to go to my doctor’s appointment, so the two smallest inhabitants of the house had not seen me for a while. When I got home after my appointment this morning, they came to see who had come in. Sixth said, with a smile, “You came home!” When Tiny asked me if I still had on my uniform (they cannot hug me when I am wearing my nursing clothes, in order to protect them from any microbes I might have got on it) , I realized they thought I had finally come home from work.

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  19. Cheryl and Roscuro, I think you both are misunderstanding my above post.
    If you notice I didn’t receive ashes yesterday. Interesting side note. The ashes are from the palm fronds from Palm Sunday the year before. Once I was responsible for helping burn them.

    Anyway, I will not try to further “justify” my participation and I will not think any differently of you that you don’t. I do sometimes find that some churches and religions become “holier than thou” in their attitude against those who do observe the liturgical calendar. There were a few years of my life I didn’t participate either. I see it as a drawing nearer to the time that Jesus died on the cross. A preparation. Since Roscuro mentioned the Eastern Church, I find it interesting that at least in the Greek Orthodox Church Easter is their biggest holiday and the one they focus on the most. Christmas is hardly a blip. The resurrection is a bigger miracle than the birth of Christ.

    Mumsee
    https://liturgical-calendar.com/en/ACNA/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgical_colours

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  20. Janice,
    Whenever I want to know what is going on with pandemics I Google a certain name and find out what he is saying. I knew him in school. He was best friends with College Boyfriend. He really is that smart. I remember us going with him to take his little brother to see Bambi and suddenly realizing that Bambi’s mother was about to get killed and dragging his brother to the bathroom. We used to laugh at him. Would you REALLY go to a doctor with that name?

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-01-23/Richard-Hatchett-on-coronavirus-Cooperation-transparency-vital-NupB63WTbq/index.html

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  21. from npr:

    “The reason to stock up on certain products now isn’t so much to avoid potential shortages in the event of an outbreak but to practice what experts call social distancing. Basically, you want to avoid crowds to minimize your risk of catching the disease. If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, the last place you want to be is in line at a crowded grocery store or drugstore.”

    https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/26/809650625/a-guide-how-to-prepare-your-home-for-coronavirus

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  22. To me, the liturgical calendar gives a clear sense of order to the services that you might not find in some churches. The meaning associated with the colors can be used as an added reflection on what Jesus did at particular times. And God made colors which are a beautiful reminder of His creativity. The use of seasonal colors can bring a sense of peace in knowing what to expect just as we who live in certain areas expect the leaves to turn color in fall and for flowers to bloom in spring. As I have said, I have done it both ways, with and without, and I appreciate both styles.

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  23. The general public stocking up on face masks is actually creating shortages for healthcare workers and is doing more harm than good. The surgical face mask does not prevent infection from other people, that is not what it is intended to do. Surgical face masks are worn by medical professionals while performing certain sterile procedures, such as surgery, in order to protect the patient they are performing the procedure on from any germs that might be carried from the professionals’ mouth, nose, or lungs. In other words, the surgical mask does not protect you from being infected by other people, it helps prevent other people from being infected by you. That is why you see signs in hospitals or other healthcare facilities asking people to put on a mask if they have a cough or other respiratory symptoms. If one is healthy, there is no benefit to wearing a surgical mask, as the masks are intended to protect others, not oneself. Those who should be wearing such masks are those who have symptoms of a respiratory illness. When Second spent 3 months in Japan, she said that masks were worn by those who had colds, which is exactly who should be wearing them. The surgical mask may confer some protection if someone coughed or sneezed directly on one, but such protection is also conferred by standing at a distance (about 6 feet) from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

    The mask that is worn for one’s personal protection from other people is often called the N95 mask, which healthcare workers will wear when dealing with diseases that are spread by airborne particles (influenza and the common cold are spread by droplets – spray from coughs, sneezes, etc. – and not considered airborne) such as tuberculosis and measles. But, once again, the N95 mask does not confer protections unless it is properly fitted and used. As a healthcare worker, I have to be fitted to the right size of N95 every two years, as the shape of one’s face can changes, due to weight gain or loss, dental procedures, etc. When I am fitted, I am also given training on how to put on the mask to get a proper seal, and how to take it off without contaminating myself with any microbes that might be on it. Handling a dirty face mask and failing to wash one’s hand afterward undoes any protection from wearing the mask.

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  24. BTW, when I mentioned the “push” to practice Lent, I was talking about the annual discussion on here, where it is described as a way to get closer to Christ (meaning that the means He instituted aren’t sufficiently efficacious, and also that those who don’t practice Lent are “missing something”), and people also point out that it is “holier than thou” and “prideful” to abstain or least to be opposed.

    A week or two ago I was editing a book where the author said it was “prideful” for a person to believe that he has “grown beyond” the use of a daily devotional, and in effect he presented the use of a daily devotional as being more important than the means God actually did give, the weekly assembly of God’s people to worship Him. Well, guess what, through the years I have looked at quite a few devotionals that others have recommended as highly useful, and have even used one or two for a few weeks, and I have never found them useful. I haven’t grown beyond them, since I never “grew into them” in the first place. And no, it isn’t “pride” to say that something invented by man (daily devotionals) isn’t helpful enough for me that I choose to use them.

    I have never liked the “you’ll be a better Christian if you . . .” argument where the “if” is appended to “use the King James Bible,” “go through this program,” or “adopt this specific religious practice.” My mother-in-law thinks that putting up a Christmas tree is an act of praise! (She said one year that she hadn’t felt like doing it, but that Jesus did so much for her that she can do this little thing for Him, or something like that.) The inclination to add to Scripture is strong, and it’s in all of us. But adding extra acts of religious piety, whether mandated by our churches, merely suggested by our churches, or chosen by us, is not a biblically sanctioned means to get closer to Christ. If avoiding something for 40 days helps you break a bad habit, go for it. But please don’t suggest you are closer to Jesus than I am because of some practice He didn’t endorse. Let’s encourage each other to more diligent study of His Word–I myself could use that encouragement–or gathering with God’s people on the Lord’s day even if we’d rather not, or being more regular in our prayer time. But dividing the holier, closer to Christ people based on means of some extrabiblical practice really does rub me the wrong way. (And yes, I know people who practice don’t mean to come off as holier than thou themselves. I’m not making accusations, but explaining and pleading. And the Godfrey link probably says it better than I can.)

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  25. Wow, almost the entire Drudge Report is dedicated to the virus today

    Vet wants to see Cowboy for that hot spot (I’m thinking partly connected to his age) so I’ll be taking him in tomorrow, my day off. He wants to get him onto a ‘systemic’ antibiotic and clean and shave the area to get it thoroughly checked out.

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  26. ** age issue mentioned above is why I think vet would prefer to see him rather than prescribe over the phone, not that the spot is connected to age — maybe just that it could pose more complications? Cowboy’s had skin issues ever since I’ve had him, but this hot spot is rather large. 😦 The OTC spray is making it better, but I’d also feel better if we could get some antibiotics.

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  27. Then by all means I will make a note not to say anything next year and no more this year. There was a discussion yesterday and I was’t around.
    Please accept my apologies.

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  28. Duke doesn’t have hot spots, but he does have seasonal canine flank alopecia. Husband calls it “Duke pattern baldness”. He loses the hair in fairly large spots on both flanks. Looks bad, but is harmless. 🙂

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  29. Ah, but that, Kim, is where you are mistaken! I have learned a lot about my fellow believers through you and Michelle which I would have written off in the past as being too liturgical. You have shown me that there is much more to relationship with Christ than I know and I am grateful. Do not be quiet!

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  30. The Eastern churches, which include the Egyptian Coptic, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, the Assyrian (formerly known as Nestorian) denominations, the Armenian, theEastern Orthodox (with its various national divisions, such as Russian, Greek, Ukranian, Georgian, etc.) and the Indian St. Thomas (known as Nasrani) churches, have unique variance as to which of the liturgical festivals are most emphasized. For the Ethiopian Church, Timkat, the Amharic (their liturgical Semetic dialect) word for Epiphany, the celebration of the Baptism of Christ is significant. The St. Thomas Christians – who, like the Assyrians, still use Syriac (a dialect of Aramaic) in their liturgy – observe Pesaha with ceremonies closely resembling the Jewish Passover on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday in the West). The Armenian Church celebrates both the Nativity and the Baptism of Christ on the same day, January 6, the date which is the earliest recorded one for celebrations of the Nativity. The Egyptian Coptics (who use Ancient Egyptian, called Coptic, as their liturgical language) call Easter, ‘The Feast’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/coptic_1.shtml; while Assyrians call Easter ‘the Great Feast’ (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/festivals-ix-assyrian), calling Lent ‘the Great Fast’. But both Egyptians and Assyrians also observe an Advent Fast, abstaining from animal products as at Lent, and Nativity Feast, which Assyrians call ‘the Little Feast’.

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  31. I have never, in all my travels, heard of celebrating the baptism of Christ.
    We don’t know when that happened.
    We do know that there is no record of any miracles until after the baptism. But we don’t know when that was.
    Mary told Luke about an incident when Jesus was about twelve, but that’s all of his youth that we know.
    I believe he grew up just like any other kid. Helping dad in the shop, shooting hoops with James and Judas.
    etc.

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  32. Cheryl, I found the Godfrey link annoying. It used a very tired argument, that Lent should not be practiced because it is a superstitious carryover from church traditions that the Reformers broke away from. As I have just demonstrated, the Western Catholics, as the youngest branch of the Ancient Church, are not unique in the observation of Lent. Irenaeus of Lyons, who lived in the 2nd century after Christ (the 100s), mentions a fast before the observance of the Resurrection. The Protestant Reformers, in combating the Pope, had little to no contact with the rest of the worldwide church, and some, particularly the Puritans and Calvinists (including Presbyterians), developed a bad habit of labeling church tradition as Papism, when in reality the traditions often extended far before the time the Bishop of Rome got himself the position of absolute ruler of the Holy Catholic Church. When the Nicene Council met, the Bishop of Rome, as the Nicene Canons note, was merely a peer of the Bishops of Alexandria (Coptic) and Antioch (Assyrian), with the Bishop of Jerusalem receiving special recognition, although not coming from so large a metropolis as the other three. Moreover, Lent and Easter are mentioned in passing, as already being practiced, in the extant writings of the Council, so it is not even as if the Council was introducing innovations. In mentioning Lent and Easter, the Council Canons offer no spiritual benefit of fasting or feasting. The Advent fast (there were two fasting period in Church tradition, a fact often forgotten) was actually a time of preparation for new converts, who were baptized on the commemoration of Christ’s Baptism at Epiphany; while Lent, according to what Irenaeus and his contemporary Tertullian says, was actually a forty hour fast between Good Friday and Easter to mark the time Christ spent in the tomb. It seems to have become longer in the two centuries between Irenaeus and the Nicene Council – for instance, the great warrior against Arianism, Athanasius, mentions a six day fast before Easter. There is little in these early church writings which suggest they saw a spiritual benefit of the work of fasting in the way Godfrey and Calvin suggest they did.

    If there is one major flaw in the Reformers, it is that they did what G. K. Chesterton later warned against doing – they knocked down fences without understanding they were first built. The Puritains of New England even took marriage out of the Church, as they considered Church marriages Papist, and made marriage entirely civil – if they could have seen the relationships that the country they helped to start would eventually call civil marriage, it might have given them pause. The Reformers had some excuse, as the manuscripts of Early Church writings were not easily accessible, especially from the Alexandrian and Antiochan fathers, as the collapse of the Byzantine empire to the advancing Ottomans cut off the Eastern church from the West. But we have considerable more access to the early church writings now. There are undoubtedly some legalists (Tertullian), and one or two herectics (Origen) among the Early Church writings, but even the Reformers inherited Early Church traditions – the doctrine of election for example, was laid out extensively by Augustine, but Augustine, in many other respects, would have been labeled superstitious by Reformed standards. The Reformed tradition picks and chooses just as much as any other church tradition from the early church.

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  33. Chas, the baptism of Christ is celebrated at Epiphany, and the Ethiopian church is the largest of the Orthodox branches, with some 50 million members, most of whom live in Ethiopia. By comparison, the Southern Baptist Convention has less than 15 million members.

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  34. Having read the Godfrey piece, I commented but my comment disappeared. Roscuro expressed my concern much better than I did, though.

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  35. This was an interesting explanation of the coronavirus fatality stats at the moment.

    I’m not worried about it. I was concerned about the babies in my family, but I see their age group shows no fatalities–though who really knows what is happening in China?

    We’re getting information from people who live and work there.

    China, BTW, burned the cash money in Wuhan . . .

    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2020/02/coronavirus-fatality-statistics-by-age-gender-and-conditions.html

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  36. As my mother has been unable to get out to church for months now, on the Sundays I am not working, after I go to church, I come home and listen with her to a sermon. We have been listening to a sermon series on Esther, by a Presbyterian pastor, no less (my mother and I overlook the Presbyterianisms he uses). As we have been reading through the book, discussing the book and sermons, one of the things that has stood out to me is how Purim, the Jewish holiday, which is still observed by all Jews, was created. There is no mention of divine revelation, and, as the Presbyterian pastor often points out, the presence of God is inferred in Esther by providential workings alone, as there is no actual mention of God in the book. Yet, the very presence of Esther in the canon of the Old Testament is indicative of the approval of the creation of Purim to commemorate the providential deliverance of the Jews from their enemies. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, people often create memorials and hold feasts not prescribed in the Law – there is Joshua making the twelve rulers of the tribes pick up stones from the bed of the Jordan river to build a memorial, and then, the altar the tribes on the eastern shore of Jordan built to remind those on the western shore that the eastern tribes also shared in the inheritance (the building of that altar caused consternation until the tribes explained themselves), the feast Solomon held for the dedication of the Temple, and other instances. I see nothing in the Bible that discourages the creation of memorials by humans to remember the goodness of God. After all, the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s day is nowhere prescribed in Scripture, we simply see the Church start to meet on that day in commemoration. When Paul warned against observing days and month, times and years, he was doing so in the context of warning against legalism, of doing those observances to gain favour with God. Yet, Paul certainly fasted, and, he practiced an even more forgotten discipline, that of the dedication vow – from the mention in Acts of him shaving his head at the end of his vow, he seemed to have been practicing the Nazarite vow. So, clearly, he saw some reason to exercise, as an individual, what are known as the spiritual disciplines.

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  37. I suspect, as with the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may be spreading by other means than just human to human contact. Very isolated regions of the world in 1919 were still affected by that influenza epidemic. Italy has been entirely unnerved by the inability to trace any connection to China with their new outbreak. Migratory bird patterns were thought to have played a role in the spread of the Spanish flu, something similar may be happening now. I also wonder if COVID-19, as it is officially called, is already in Africa (China has an extensive presence in many African countries) and no one has yet distinguished it from the other respiratory illnesses that regularly circulate among populations with very little health services.

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  38. I have not looked it up, but I believe that at one point Jesus says that fasting may be required to drive out stubborn evil spirits (or something like that). That would be a completely different use for fasting than what has been discussed, and it would be more on an individual level rather than as a group activity as in fasting for Lent.

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  39. I would add my voice to Mumsee’s, Kim, in saying that I hope you do not remain silent about your liturgical perspective. We have always discussed our denominational differences. I, for example, as a credobaptist by conviction, not simply by default of how I was raised, strongly disagree with the practice of pedobaptism. But, I also, although I see some spiritual danger in the practice, do not implore others to refrain from it, though I feel free to express my reason for disagreeing with it. Jesus once warned his disciples not to forbid a man from casting out demons in Jesus’ name simply because the man was not in the group of Jesus’ followers. Jesus observed that there was no one who could do miracles in his name that could lightly speak evil of him – an assertion that was proved when the sons of Sceva, who had no love for Paul or his Lord, tried to do exorcise in Jesus’ and got beaten up for so doing. Within the bound of the orthodox faith, there is room for disagreement, even on matters as important as baptism, much less secondary matters as observances within the church calendar.

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  40. My problem with pedeobaptism I is that so many people think that they are Christians because their parents had them baptized.

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  41. Covid-19: I had wondered about Africa because of the Chinese presence there. That explains the lack of information coming from there. Of course, maybe there are no cases.

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  42. I haven’t taken anyone’s comments to say that Lenten practices make them closer to Jesus than anyone else, only that the practices draw them closer to Jesus than they might be otherwise. Paul said that some observe special days and others don’t and that’s all fine. So it is with us here.

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  43. Kare (5:13), thanks — Cowboy acts fine, eats well, greets me when I get home, loves his walks. But he is up in years, as is Tess. And bodies can turn on us. I’m just not ready to lose these guys. 😦 He’s always had skin issues (He doesn’t look it, but I think he’s part terrier, those dogs often have skin problems in my experience).

    Long day, I had 4 stories to write, including a news conference on coronavirus; only one story didn’t happen (because person didn’t get back to me), but I wouldn’t have had time to write it anyway. Got 3 stories done which is a lot. There was a time when reporters typically wrote 1 story a day (although at big metro papers that could just be 1 story a week or even less in some cases).

    Our company now is trying to acquire Tribune from the sounds of it. They acquire all these papers and cut them to the bone. 😦

    We also were sad to hear today that one of our most talented and veteran photographers (he covers many of the major sports teams, including the Dodgers, and always has amazing photos) is leaving journalism (after 33 years) to be a photographer in the technical division for LAPD.

    BTW, doctor at news conference told me a vaccine for coronavirus is probably 18 months away or more.

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