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. I've been wondering what happened to Oliver, the litle boy who used to post wonderful comments about the choices on the bracket every day. Did he grow up and move on, or have I just not seen his comments?

  2. Thank you for sharing the links SEC. For those of us who attend a parish every Sunday, this is very difficult. Lent Madness is a positive during a time that is very stressful.

  3. Thank you. This post comes just at the right time. My parishes are all closed through March, and it feels very strange and isolating not to have a physical church to go to. It has been snowing here most of the day. Our little band of pilgrims, though virtual, is very real and precious. Peace to all of you; stay warm, dry, and well. (Wash your hands! Don't touch your face!)

  4. Thank you for this great, and unexpected post. Lent Madness is a touch of sanity in an insane time.

  5. Thank you! From a parish priest who spent the last three days reordering the life of the congregation he serves in preparing to offer live-streamed worship for the first time in his life, these words, and even more the spirit behind them comet is a great gift in this time.

  6. I have always relied on that great cloud of witnesses as my beacon and comfort. And I get the opportunity to dig deeper into them in Lent Madness. Thanks for the resources you listed here.

  7. This is my first year of Lent Madness. I much prefer this madness to the madness we are all experiencing. May those of us here pray for those who wait, or watch, or worry, and those who are physically and economically vulnerable in this time of uncertainty.

    God's peace be with us all, and may His hand guide us in the times to come.

  8. Such an encouraging post! Many thanks, Scott and Tim, for your encouragement.

    Stay well!

  9. You are just what I needed to hear today because my husband & I are 76 years old and not in the best health so to please our very worried children we are staying home from church tomorrow. This is very hard for us because we love our church. Thank you for the resources and I think we will tune into the National Cathedral tomorrow.

  10. Thank you Lenten Madness, for the Lenten discipline you give us today, and every day through this season. And thank you for reminding us of Bp. Curry’s sermon tomorrow morning. May we all also adda prayer of Thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Barbara Harris, our first female Bishop ordained in the Anglican communion. May she rest with Jesus in eternal love.

  11. I do so love this Lenten offering and this community - I cannot overstate how grounding it is in this time of worldwide uncertainty. The gifts given to us through learning about the lives of these saints, and the humor we can share in the process, are so life-affirming. Thank you, SEC, and all who are involved.

  12. Thank you for Lenten Madness. This is my first year of it and I am really enjoying re.reading about saint that I know already and learning about others who I do not know yet. Thank you also for todays post. I am also a bit anxious about our current medical climate and hoping for the best for everyone. Its a difficult time for all concerned. So thank you .

  13. A welcome note of encouragement, levity and hope. Thank you for this grace note at such a fraught time.

  14. I join this great cloud of witnesses in affirming that your post today gave us all comfort in an incredibly uncomfortable and challenging time! Thank you. Thank you, too, for the joy, inspiration, and community Lent Madness gives us.

  15. Wow! So many comments. I am so appreciative of this faith community, especially in this time of crisis. My own family is safe and well, but on the other side of this huge country from me...5 hours by plane, so I really need you all right now. Thank you for being with me, and so many others in ways that matter most. I will be here for you and others in my own community, too. Let us practice what we know is Christ’s example, by truly loving each other. And a humorous word here and there will help so much!

  16. Scott and Tim, I have long appreciated your faith and your humor. Maybe now more than ever. My husband and I had to make the tough decision to stay home from church during this trying time. This is VERY hard for us as we are devoted to our church and church family. With so few testing kits and few testing centers, who knows how many actually carry the virus? I am susceptible to respiratory illnesses; my husband doesn't want to go to crowded places where he might contract it and bring it home to me. We aren't afraid to shop because one can be in and out of stores in a relatively short time. Church is a different matter and we sing in the choir.

    Thank you for shining that candle of faith for us all, Tim and Scott! It is so very appreciated!

    1. Linda, I also will be missing singing tomorrow, I sing in 2 groups, the traditional & the contemporary. Bless you and all of us. We will have to sing in the shower..."Seek ye first the kingdom of God...."

  17. Thank you for the positivity...I am loving the Lenten Madness, and these comments and links for services and prayers are a true blessing!