Well, friends, we've come nearly to the end of Lent Madness 2023. It's hard to believe we kicked things off over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” with 32 saintly souls. With your help, the field has been whittled down to just two: Joanna the Myrrhbearer and Jonathan Daniels. Who will receive the coveted 2023 Golden Halo? Only the next 24 hours and your (single) will tell.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of before or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.
In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and hopefully had some fun along the way.
Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our amazing Celebrity Bloggers, to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Neva Rae Fox, Heidi Haverkamp, Miriam McKenney, Emily McFarlan Miller, David Sibley, and Eva Suarez. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. You all rock!
Thank you to Richelle Thompson and everyone at Forward Movement for putting up with our shenanigans and producing a terrific Saintly Scorecard this year. Special gratitude goes to Ashley Graham-Wilcox for helping get words and images into the website each day.
Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints with friends, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.
Before we invite you to cast this final vote, we should note that Emily MacFarlan Miller has ably shepherded Joanna the Myrrhbearer through the bracket, while Eva Suarez has done the same for Jonathan Daniels. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote either by or about their saint. We’ve already heard a lot about Joanna and Jonathan, so now it's time to make your final choice. If you want to refresh your memory, you can click the Bracket tab and scroll down to view the previous write-ups.
The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2023 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!
"As Judy and I said the daily offices day by day, we became more and more aware of the living reality of the invisible "communion of saints”– of the beloved community in Cambridge who were saying the offices too, and of the ones gathered around a near-distant throne in heaven – who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise. With them, with black men and white men, with all of life, in Him Whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout, whose Name is Itself the Song Which fulfills and "ends" all songs, we are indelibly, unspeakably One."
— Jonathan Daniels, written shortly before his death
Joanna the Myrrhbearer
"Joanna is not just an illustration of the fact that Jesus attracted followers from the social elite as well as from the ordinary people and the poor. In deciding not only to support Jesus, but also to take part in his ministry by traveling with him and his itinerant disciples, Joanna may well have been motivated initially by the healing she had experienced, but it was a radical step right outside the Herodian establishment to which she had belonged and into the life of the ordinary people of Galilee and of the marginalized and rejected of society whom Jesus often attracted and sought out."
— Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women
NOTE: At 9:09 p.m. EDT, we removed 1,051 votes from Joanna the Myrrhbearer because of bulk voting from nine different IP addresses. Please vote just once, not several hundred times!
My vote went to Jonathan Myrick Daniels. He was courageous and believed in equality for the oppressed black people in our country. The reading in today's Our Daily Bread was about leaving your life behind and following Jesus. He left his life behind to follow Jesus.
"And as we take up our cross, we declare a willingness to undergo social and political oppression and even death for the sake of devotion to Christ. Along with letting go and taking up, we’re also to take on a willingness to truly follow Him."
Many thanks for another great Lent Madness.
Joanna has my heart, and I am so glad to learn more about her. That said, Jonathon is a modern-day saint who continues to be an example in our messy modern world and country. Gotta go with him.
Thank you, SEC and Celebrity Bloggers for another wonderful year of Lent Madness!
Both of these incredible saints are to be honored and both deserve a golden halo. But my vote has gone to Joanna who for me symbolizes the incredible sacrifice that women have made over time to take their faith into action and carry Christ's message forward. Honoring Joanna is honoring all of the women we have learned about through this Lenten Madness. May all have a blessed Easter.
Thank you for another wonderful Lent Madness. I look forward to participating every year and I do appreciate all the work that goes into it.
Thank you to all who contributed and who continue to make this available as part of my Lenten practice each year.
This year's slate of saints proved to lead to much deep contemplation and prayer, so many worthy of the Golden Halo.
Blessings and Happy Easter
Both among the throng gathered, in Jonathan's words "around the near-distant throne in heaven"; both with the courage to step out of their comfort zone to live out God's will; both worthy of the Golden Halo.
Today was another tough choice, but my deciding method was fairly and squarely in Joanna's favour.
This year's Lent Madness offered more difficult choices than I can remember having to make, but thank you for introducing me to so many who paved the way for all of us to prepare for inclusion in the throng around the near-distant throne in heaven.
I wish the Lent Madness team and all my fellow-journeyers through the LM Maze a holy Triduum and and a joyful and glorious Easter.
Both Joanna and Jonathan bear witness to the risen Christ. Ruby Sales, civil rights activist and founder of Spirit House, and for whom Jonathan gave his life, spoke to our church group recently. My vote goes to Jonathan.
Every year, I look forward to Lent Madness. Every year, I read along and vote. Most years, I get to the Final Four and begin to ponder the effect of those four saints on my life in the present moment and on the history and direction of Christianity. I'm pretty sure that this is the first year when I had voted for three of the four in earlier rounds. I know that it's the first year where I have a strong personal connection to two of those four. Today, I voted for a saint first brought to my attention about 20 years ago by a dear friend who has since joined the saints in glory. The contest today is Lent Madness at its finest: ancient history vs. recent history, two memorable examples of humility and courage, real people committed to walking in the way of Christ in their time. This is a year when I wish that Lent Madness could award two Golden Haloes. Along with my thanks to the Celebrity Bloggers, the Supreme Executive Committee, and the behind-the-scenes crew that makes Lent Madness possible, THANK YOU to everyone voting today and to all who have voted since Ash Thursday--today's face-off couldn't have happened without you!
This was a very difficult final choice, and I stuck with Jonathan out of loyalty to my previous votes for him. Both have compelling reasons to win, and I thank these and all the bloggers for such an inspiring season of Lent Madness. I especially loved the picture of Joanna in today’s final round - it gave such a profound sense of presence to her as I’ve not felt before - simply beautiful.
I had to go with Jonathan Daniels as a fellow American, someone whose time on this planet overlaps my own life, and who followed Jesus's call to serve God and serve others so courageously and whole heartedly. I was a young child when he died; but his life being contemporaneous with my own, I feel, calls me to account.
Thank you bloggers and SEC for providing such a thought-provoking and fun Lenten practice. And thank you fellow commenters for the rich discussion that's such an important part of it.
Today was actually a little easier. Not easy, mind you, just less hard.
I voted for Jonathan, partly because I had voted for him the first time I played this delightful, enlightening "game" and partly for his willingness to sacrifice his own life for someone he didn't know. Maybe Joanna for the Silver Halo?
As always, this has been a wonderful way to get to know, or get reacquainted with, some very interesting people.
I read the dailies via the web, rather than e-mail. I was surprised when I opened on the Jonathan vs Joanna posting. Jonathan was presented by a lengthy script -- about 2 pages rather than the usual short write-up for the Golden Halo.
Then I scrolled down for Joanna and found Chief Seattle. JOANNA WAS NOT WRITTEN UP.
So I went to the e-mail and was presented with 2 equally short scripts on Jonathan and Joanna.
HMMM. Was this a subterfuge to skew the results? The dastardly plan seems to be working, as Jonathan is leading at this pint.
Joanna's lengthy write-up was on Monday, vs. Martin de Porres. Yesterday Jonathan was running against Chief Seattle. Today, for the Golden Halo, both saints have 1 quote and 1 photo.
Along the right side of the screen are links to the recent posts, and you can see all the write-ups for both Saints, honored and adored.
For some reason, several times this season I have not been able to vote on my phone. Just saying…
You are not alone. It has gotten to the point that if I want to load the website and get a vote button I have to do so in Chrome on my MacBook. And at one point I had to clean the Chrome browsing history and cookies and all that to get the site to work right. (Which I should *not* have to do.)
I hope next year someone at FM pays attention to the comments about the site not consistently working correctly on some devices/browsers.
Thank you all Supreme Committee, Forward Movement, excellent bloggers. What a fun meaningful way to start my day. I too think this year’s lineup has been best ever. I also believe the silver halo should be brought out tomorrow please. I still haven’t pushed that button yet. What a choice
Adding my thanks to everyone who has made this another inspiring and entertaining year! Thank you, Tim and Scott, Forward Movement, bracket czar, celebrity bloggers, and thoughtful commenters. It's been a joy to participate.
Joanna was there! My vote is for all the Biblical women without a voice, and in so many cases, without even a name. And my vote is also for women still today whose stories and lives are rendered silent due to misogyny, power, corruption, violence and fear. Joanna the Myrrh-Bearer gives hope to us all, especially when we exclaim on Sunday, “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!” Joanna was there! Happy Easter everyone. ✝️
Thank you for reminding me of why I had been voting for Joanna since the start. She was there! She preached, served, exemplified and never sought (or rarely given) acknowledgement.
Let women preach!
....."we are indelibly, unspeakably One". Thank you, Scott and Tim, all the Celebrity Bloggers and Global Lent Madness Community; I feel both blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity to share in this remarkable Lenten experience. "See" you next year!
My real name is Joanna, so do I win?
Many wise comments here. Trying to make a decision, but how do I choose between two saints who show us the way - in different ways. So I flipped a coin and it fell and disappeared under my desk. Will never know who I would have voted for. Blessings to all. See you next year. Ron
My husband and I moved to Cambridge, MA in the fall of 1964 for one year and our daughter went to nursery school in an Episcopal church for awhile. I remember hearing about this group of brave young men who went down to Alabama so they have always meant something special to me. If Jonathan wins the golden halo it will be well deserved. A very special young saint.
Fantastic inspiration learning about saints. My votes were about 50% successful,but all the nominees were winners in my prayers of adoration.
When will the coffee mug show up in the Lentorium? I thought that last year I'd ordered mine sight unseen (saint as-yet not gold), but maybe not...will keep going back to that place with all those Ws in it to watch for it to show up. This has been an amazing Lent Madness, and I'm excited about whoever wins the Golden Halo. A blessed Triduum to all!
So tough today. I was so torn! Thank you Lent Madness and all of the celebrity bloggers!
Without Joanna, it is quite possible there wouldn’t be a Jonathan Daniels (or the church as we know it). This was one of the toughest votes for me. I think this is another time when there should be a silver halo in addition to the golden one. If Joana can’t win outright I am hoping for a tie.
Well, frankly, it boiled down to gender, BECAUSE of the Daniels quote. He saw the racial question as about White MEN and Black MEN? A tiny thing, I know, but two super-deserving candidates any thing for a decision
What a challenge for a woman.. hence my vote
Again this is really hard. Both are so worthy.
I want to thank everyone involved in Lent Madness (Tim, Scott, Celebrity Bloggers, Bracket Czar) along with all the players who comment. They are so helpful in my thought process even though at times it simply makes it harder to make my choice.
For all the faithful women who served in days of old,
to you shall thanks be given; to all, their story told.
They served with strength and gladness in tasks your wisdom gave.
To you their lives bore witness, proclaimed your pow'r to save.
Text: Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr., 1923-2007
ELW #419; LSB #855, stanza 1
Who will write a stanza for Joanna?
Little is written about Joanna the Myrrhbearer. Little is written about any of the women who were among the early followers of Christ. Women…marginalized for centuries. And yet her name makes it into the gospels. She was recognized by someone who realized how important her contribution was, and is one of the few women mentioned in the New Testament. Almost in passing.. just one of the women who was with Jesus daily. But a woman, whose faith was so strong that she told the story of Jesus resurrection to his followers. The biggest story of our history. She and Mary Magdalene and Mary of Joseph, had faith, they dropped everything, to follow Christ. Just like the apostles did. And yet their story barely exists. But today, for me, I cast a vote for Joanna, representative of many women who dropped “their fishing nets” and followed Christ. I wonder how many people came to Christ because of their faith.