Here are excerpts from what I think a very interesting article. The Washington Post ran this last week in the same section (Metro) as the obituaries, where Barbara’s appeared. The piece fairly screams for comment, but I've interspersed only the comments I couldn’t resist. You can add the rest, if you like.
FEELING RENEWED BY ANCIENT TRADITIONS
Evangelicals observing Lent?
Fasting, and giving up chocolate and favorite pastimes like watching TV during the 40 days before Easter are practices many evangelical Protestants have long rejected as too Catholic and unbiblical.
But Lent – a time of inner cleansing and reflection upon Jesus Christ’s sufferings before his resurrection – is one of many ancient church practices being embraced by an increasing number of evangelicals, sometimes with a modern twist. The National Community Church, which has three locations in the District and one in Arlington County, updated the Lenten fast by adding a Web component: a 40-day blog, where participants from as far away as Australia, Korea and Mexico discuss their spiritual cleansing.
Discuss their spiritual cleansing? “I’m really making wonderful progress with my humility; how is yours coming?”
This increasing connection with Christianity’s classical traditions goes beyond Lent. Some evangelical churches offer confession and weekly communion. They distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday and light Advent calendars at Christmastime.
(Surely they light Advent candles, rather than calendars.)
This represents a “major sea change in evangelical life,” according to D. H. Williams, professor of patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. “Evangelicalism is coming to [the] point where the early church has become the newest staple of its diet.”
Experts say most who have taken on such practices have grown disillusioned with the contemporary, shopping-center feel of the megachurches embraced by baby boomers, with their casually dressed ministers and rock-band praise music.
Instead, evangelicals – many of them young – are adopting a trend that has come to be known as “worship renewal” or “ancient-future worship.”
Those familiar with the trend say it is practiced mostly by small, avant-garde evangelical churches, though not always.
So Orthodoxy is avant-garde!
Last summer, the national convention of the 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, an evangelical wing of the Lutheran denomination, voted to revive private confession.
Lutherans are avant-garde, too! It’s just that, um, well, being called that is not something the Orthodox or the Lutherans are used to...
Not to worry. Lutherans will have to speak for themselves in defending against this charge, but not the Orthodox. No, ancient stuff is only avant-garde when it’s Evangelicals doing it! It’s just stuffy when we do it.
At Common Table, a weekly lay-led church that gathers at a Vienna coffeehouse for an unconventional service that features skits, group discussion and Quaker-style silence, worshipers line up to take communion from bread purchased at a nearby grocery story and sip wine out of a pottery chalice or grape juice from plastic cups.
Grape juice just doesn’t command the same respect as wine, does it?
First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. follows the liturgical calendar observed by Catholic churches. It lights candles at Advent, and observes Epiphany Sunday and the remainder of the traditional cycle of liturgical celebrations.
“We find that following the seasons of the Christian year adds a lot of richness to our experience of worship, said the Rev. James Somerville, the church’s pastor, adding: “We wouldn’t want the Catholics to get all the good stuff.”
He obviously said that last part with a twinkle in his eye, but the first part was quite serious. It’s about our worship experience. It’s about US.
For the most part, though, young evangelicals aren’t just reviving ancient traditions. They are stamping them with their own updated brand.
Confession – a staple of Catholicism – is appearing in different formats. Thousands of people, for example, have posted anonymous online confessions on church-run Web sites like myseret.tv, and ivescrewedup.com. ...
“We do believe there is value in confessing our sins to each other,” said Bobby Gruenwald, pastor at Lifechurch.tv, an Oklahoma-based megachurch that runs mysecret.tv, which has received 7,500 confessions since it started in 2006. Ministers and volunteers pray over the confessions as they come in. “This process may be a more modern way of people discovering the value of that tradition.”
-by Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer