Lent Madness Carries On

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Dear friends in Christ,

These are strange times. Who would have imagined that the other bracket-based tournament that takes place in March -- the one where a "three pointer" doesn't refer to the Holy Trinity -- would be canceled? And while we're pleased to claim the title of Longest-Running Consecutive Madness in the World, we would have preferred to receive this honor under different circumstances.

In all seriousness, we know that many of you are struggling mightily right now, in one way or another. There is much fear and uncertainty in our midst. The good news is that we're all in this together, as fellow pilgrims on this journey of life and faith.

Some of you will find yourself unable to attend worship services or other meetings in your local churches. We hope you'll take advantage of whatever connections are offered from your church or denomination. We also hope neighbors will care for one another, offering hope and comfort, strength and solace; thereby literally carrying out the second great commandment Jesus gave us, to love our neighbors.

Many people will be longing for connection, and we wanted to let you know that Lent Madness isn't going anywhere. It may seem incongruous to engage in such frivolity during a public health crisis, but we have heard from many of you that the joy you experience here is important now more than ever. And you can experience that joy in the comfort and safety of your own home.

We often say that Lent Madness is an exception to the usual internet rule, "Do not read the comments." Indeed, the pop-up Lenten community that forms around this online devotion is one of the great joys of this ministry. Here, the comments are often edifying, and even encouraging. Sure, we may trade some friendly trash-talk about those who oppose our favorite saints, but mostly the comments are a beacon of lively joy in an age where that is a rare commodity. We trust that commenters will continue to be careful with one another, as we are all carrying great fragility.

It seems we need the example of the saints more than ever in this moment of time. Allow them into your lives as bearers of hope and perseverance.

Forward Movement, our sponsor, is one of many church-related ministries sharing resources during this time. If you have others that you'd like people to know about, please share them in the comments.

If you're looking for resources to support prayer and worship at home, check out a free ChurchNext online course, Prayer and Worship in Our Homes. This is a set of free (!) classes that will help you and your family if you're finding yourself unable to get to church. Among the sessions, there's a class on prayer with the saints taught by none other than the Supreme Executive Committee. There are other free ChurchNext classes too, and you can read about them in this recent announcement.

Lots of Episcopalians and others find it helpful to start the day with Morning Prayer, or maybe end the day with Evening Prayer. These are sets of prayers, psalms, and scripture readings taken from the Book of Common Prayer. You don't have to be Episcopalian to find this helpful! You can find the prayers on the Forward Movement website. Depending on what time of day you visit, you'll get morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, or compline (prayers for the end of day). If you prefer, you can listen to a podcast, A Morning at the Office. These are all free.

Forward Movement is known around the world for its popular daily devotion, Forward Day by Day. That too is posted every day online, and it's available as a podcast.

Of course, if your church is offering online worship, we hope you'll take advantage of that. If not, you can tune in to the Washington National Cathedral, where the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is preaching tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. EDT. They'll be around every Sunday with great stuff.

There are more resources on the way, and we'll watch the comments for your ideas. We're glad to gather up some more resources and post more in a few days.

Please care for one another, and do not neglect to care for yourself. We're in this for the long haul, probably. Jesus Christ has promised to abide with us, and for that we can be eternally grateful.

Let us pray.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, friends, what Lent Madness is all about. Each one of the saints was a beacon of Christ's light and love. Each of the saints is in heaven praying for you. We are never alone.

Tim Schenck+         Scott Gunn+


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119 comments on “Lent Madness Carries On”

  1. Thank you so much for this posting today. I think we all need it as we face the next few weeks!

    Peace and good health to all of you!

    1. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that the saints are praying for us!

    2. It is comforting to know that there are "neighbors" around us, praying together to honor God, and to ask for his mercy and blessing.

  2. This made me feel very comforted. I treasure this “pop-up” community. Blessings friends.

    1. Thank you Christine. The Daily Morning Prayer services live are actually at 7 am and 9 am EDT. Weekly Evensong is Friday, live, at 9 pm EDT. And yes there will be two services on Sundays now as you correctly noted: 9 am and 11 am EDT. The Sunday services will continue until churches are open again. The Daily Office Network also offers podcasts of Evening Prayer every day, and the full texts for Morning and Evening Prayer, with art and music, for every day.

  3. Thank you! You offer reassurance and practical help in a troubling time. God bless you.

  4. Thank you for today’s post.

    Any chance you could go through bios of saints from past years and find some role models for pandemic times, then post them again?

    1. Julian of Norwich lived during the time of the 14th c. bubonic plague, or “Black Death,” in England. She’s wonderful. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” has gotten me through many dark days.

      1. Thank you!

        Tim and Scott--Wasn't Julian one of the nominees in past years?
        Can we see again?
        Susan, thank you for All Shall Be Well.....

      2. Thank you for reminding me of Lady Julian's comforting words. She is one of my favorite mystics. My own church home, Christ Church United Methodist in Manhattan, NYC, is offering online worship services for the duration. I've been enjoying Lent Madness for 10+ years or so, and find every bit of it so inspiring and helpful, especially the humor! All of you are in my grateful prayers today.

      3. I usually wear a turquoise turtle on a chain necklace. The turtle is resting; I have replaced him (for the time being) with my Julian of Norwich medal with her prayer on it.

  5. Thank you for this post and for the way that it us helping each of us cope with these anxious times. I usually don’t comment on public forum such as this, but I think we all need some way to feel connected. This is my first year participating in Lent Madness. I thought it would be fun, but I did not expect it to be quite this enjoyable! Of course, who expected that March Madness would be taken away... . Thanks for all you do. Keep the faith.

  6. Dear Scott and Tim - What extraordinary pastors and priests you are! What extraordinary human beings! And what brilliant and inspiring messages. Today’s is especially one to cherish. I have loved the Forward movement since I first “discovered” it about a decade ago. And then there’s Lent Madness” -a delight in every way. Thank you for your guidance, your leadership, your intellect, your sense of humor (senses of humors???) , and most of all, your faith.

  7. Tbis post reaffirms my commitment to voting! Thank you for bringing levity, information, and community to each of us as we weather this storm. May God keep each and every Lent Madness Friend safe.

  8. Thank you so much for the thoughtful and uplifting message - for me here in Japan I am reading it on Sunday morning and indeed not attending services. In fact, because of being a healthy elder, I do not go anywhere (no need for car that I do not have) would not use public transportation, Carefully doing shopping locally. So true about the saints. After reading about and voting, I bought on my kindle, "The Practice and Presence of God (in modern English). Let me say, too, I have been reading some humorous books, too. After all, some laughter helps, too.

  9. Thank you, SEC. I look forward to completing my brackets (even though it’s already busted).

  10. This was wonderful! Thank you for your uplifting words and thoughts! They are deeply appreciated, along with the resource suggestions❣

  11. I surely hope the text of Bishop Curry's sermon at the Cathedral will be available for those of us whose internet connection will not let us listen online (too much bandwidth) my computer tells me.

  12. Thank you, SEC! I look forward to Lent Madness every year, and this year the learnings, levity, and camaraderie are needed more than ever!

  13. This may be a virtual community but it's still a community. And that sure helps during this challenging time. It's good to have something to look forward to during this challenging time.

  14. Thank you, SEC, you two zany and wonderfully appropriate pastoral fellows. Your sensitivity and timing have been perfect I've greatly appreciated your Ash Wednesday and today's notes to the Lent Madness community. Much appreciated.

  15. This is just so great! Full of useful liturgical resources during these uncertain times. Thank you so much!

  16. Thank you all for posting this. I finally spent some time this afternoon "catching up" on all the posts I missed over the last week or so as things in the educational world spiraled into chaos. I'm so thrilled this will continue. I look forward to this as a daily devotion (and distraction) in the midst of everything else. Take care, everyone.