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. To read stories, so well presented by the writers, is an inspiration -- all of these saints, who lived courageously in their times and ways -- and lift us in these days when fear and uncertainty are so rampant. It is good to connect with the greater stories through the ages. Lent Madness is most needed right now to lift out of fear and uncertainty into the eternal love of God for us all.

  2. You are a light in our darkness bringing hope and God’s love in a time of trial for many.

  3. Thank you so much! I appreciate all the comments and in particular those of Jack Zambonie. As a fellow parish priest, I have done nothing in the last three days that has not been marked by questions and concerns and contingencies related to the corona virus, worship, and pastoral care. And I, too, will be live-streaming tomorrow for the first time, ever. Blessings to the SEC and all involved in the joy of Lent Madness—and all, as we deal with the madness around us!

  4. Thank you Scott and Tim. In the midst of this public health crisis, we need Lent Madness more than ever.

  5. Thank you. It seems conditions change hourly. No church for me tomorrow. I would like to hear Bishop Curry's sermon tomorrow. I greatly appreciate all the joy Lent Madness brings, and now in this time of uncertainty the thoughtfulness and love it brings as well. I'm up late, but must call my sister who lives across the country. Let us all comfort each other. Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.

  6. For those of Roman Catholic persuasion try out Heart of the Nation Catholic Mass on U Tube.

    Sue and I never, ever miss this dynamic 30 minutes.

    Positive, uplifting, guilt free.

  7. Our church has not cancelled services for this weekend -- but I plan to go to the early (7:30AM) Eucharist, which is usually a small group. It may be the last Eucharist for a while. I'll miss singing with the choir, so much! Our rector is a bishop-elect, and his goodbye party is supposed to be next week. It saddens me that we probably won't be able to gather in his honor, but I know there are many people with worse impacts from this illness. Found this video of Rev. Curry reading my favorite prayer from Evening Prayer, yesterday. I share it with you all, as my prayer for all of you this evening. Be well, and see you here at Lent Madness Monday, to learn about another pair of our dear saints, and debate who is most deserving of advancement toward that ever-coveted Golden Halo. https://www.facebook.com/episcopalian/videos/10159882459167925/

    1. We are having online Morning Prayer this morning.
      At least be in church thru the air waves.
      Hard to go through by yourself.

  8. If you wish to do some study while remaining at home, I have a couple of YouTube channels I recommend. The first is All Saints New Albany [Ohio], which has been posting sermons each week for about 5 years. Here is a link to my favorite one, "Bridegroom" -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMKXegyb-z4 -- as an example. I also highly recommend the series from Summer 2015. Jason Prati is a dynamite speaker and great at connecting the Old Testament to the stories about Jesus in the New Testament. Any time he is the speaker it is worth listening, I believe.

    Second is a channel posted by Ryan Reeves, a seminary professor who teaches the history of Christianity. If you have an interest in Patristics and how the faith was transmitted from the Apostles to us, you can learn a lot here. I think he's of a more evangelical bent, rather than Episcopalian, but I'm not aware that that would make a difference to the study of church history. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRgREWf4NFWZEd86aVEpQ7B3YxXPhUEf-

  9. A member of our EfM group found this. The author gives permission to share it on her website http://www.krugthethinker.com

    Prayer for a Pandemic
    By Cameron Bellm

    May we who are merely inconvenienced
    Remember those whose lives are at stake.
    May we who have no risk factors
    Remember those most vulnerable.
    May we who have the luxury of working from home
    Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
    May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
    Remember those who have no options.
    May we who have to cancel our trips
    Remember those that have no safe place to go.
    May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
    Remember those who have no margin at all.
    May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
    Remember those who have no home.
    As fear grips our country,
    let us choose love.
    During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
    Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

    1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful prayer. It helps put everything in perspective in these stressful times.

  10. You brought tears to my eyes when I least expected them. Thank you for your kindness and support. Stay healthy, wash your hands and keep up the good work that brings all of us such joy. God’s blessings !

  11. We need a like button, so please consider all above comments liked. Here in London England it is 7:35 am GMT, We will have a service of the Word at Church, in the meantime we wait our government moving to containment and the cancellations that will bring.
    I pray for you all and the world and the sanity of Lent Madness in this stressful time.
    God Bless you all. xx

  12. Thank you for your words of encouragement during these trying times.
    Your Lenten Madness is a beacon of light and joy during our Lenten season and most certainly this year! Yes, especially enjoy the comments too...
    Blessings in your interest of keeping our Saints alive as I enjoy doing in writing
    Holy Icons.

  13. Thank you to everyone, most especially to Tim and Scott, for being God’s angels to all of us in Lent Madness this year! What a wonderful world we live in, where “strangers” share love, concern, compassion through this particular Lenten Madness joy!! Our California daughter shared this wonderful link yesterday with us, and I’ve been sending it to all our parishioner friends at Transfiguration here in Dallas. At this moment in time, may we all feel God’s hands of love as we reach toward each other around the world. Blessings, comfort, and health to all the thousands of our new favorite internet neighbors!

  14. Yes, thanks for being there - your reminders about the saints are refreshing and encouraging. I think that we are entering a time when we will gain a new appreciation for technology since so many physical activities that we have taken for granted are being postponed while we try to isolate ourselves more and stay safe.

  15. Dear Tim and Scott, thank you for joining us all together in love. Thank you for leading us to contemplate the saints of the past, present (including of course each other) and future. What a blessing to be surrounded by this amazing cloud of witnesses!
    Praise God whose joy is love!

  16. Thank you for bringing all of us so much joy, encouragement, and comfort . . . it is for such a time as this that this is most needed! We all forget, we all leak. Thank you for reminding us and teaching us more about God's great love through broken people in difficult times. Very grateful.

  17. Thank you so much for this letter. It’s funny that it came a day after I posted a blog on our website extolling the virtues of lent madness. I mentioned that although the term march sadness is now upon us, lent madness still can provide so much thought, introspection. Thank you for what you are doing during this very stressful. It just gives us the opportunity to more fully understand what the Saints went through. Peace to all of you

  18. Thank you! I think this is a much needed resource at a difficult time. And I love the new Daily Office podcast! That is a great resource.

  19. Ditto. I'm grateful for this virtual community, especially now when cut off from normal contact with my real one. God bless us all.

  20. Thank you Frs. Scott and Tim. I agree with all you have said, and during @Saint Michael and All Angels live Fb feed of Morning Prayer this morning, posted http://www.lentmadness.com link in the comments; Fr. Matthew Cowden, made mention upon our conclusion. Staying connected virtually in this time of “social, public distancing” feeds our souls and delights our maker. God loves YOU.

  21. Thank you SEC for the encouraging words and the resources. I'm seeing this too late to tune in to Bishop Currie''s live stream. I'm hoping that I can find it recorded. This is a wonderful commuunity and I treasure you all.

  22. Drove past my church and was so saddened to see the CLOSED sign on the doors. Then I came home and saw your weekend post and caught the U-tube service from the National Cathedral w/Bishop Curry and had my own private service w/literally thousands of others. Thank you for uplifting my spirits for the coming weeks of limited activity. For once I can't wait for Monday as the Saints continue to dance.