Happy Easter -- the Sequel to Lent

As you might guess, we're pretty devoted to Lent here at Lent Madness HQ. But even we have often said that Lent is the warm-up for the bigger season, the great fifty days of Easter. Indeed, the liturgy of the Episcopal Church reminds us that Lent is a season to "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast."

So let us be among the first to wish you a joyful and blessed Easter!

Whether you are celebrating José Hernández's win, weeping bitter tears over Teresa of Avila's narrow loss, or among those whose brackets were totally busted early on, Jesus rose for you. Jesus rose for saints and sinners, liberals and conservatives, old and young, and every glorious variety of human on this beautiful world in which we live.

In Easter we celebrate the triumph of God's grace and mercy over the powers of sin and death. The universe is changed, and for that we shout a hearty, "Alleluia!"

We worry though that some people have a momentary blip of Easter joy and then get on with business as usual, even though the cosmic powers of the status quo are permanently cast down.

Today we want to invite you to celebrate Easter for the full fifty days. There are lots of ways you can do that. Over at the 50 Days blog, you can find daily reflections for whole Easter season. Sign up to get daily emails, or just visit the site each day.

Easter Triumph Easter Joy book coverTim and Scott have both written books to help you out. Scott's latest book, just published, is Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Daily Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide. You can get it in paper or start reading right away on your Kindle. Tim approached this time of year with humor in Dust Bunnies in the Basket: Finding God in Lent & Easter, also available in paper or for your Kindle.

You can decide to read the Book of Acts over the Easter season. Or commit to daily prayers. Write Alleluia on someone's sidewalk (in chalk!) every day. Find your own way to keep up the Easter joy.

Speaking of keeping up joy, there's one more annual appeal left for us to make. Forward Movement is proud to sponsor Lent Madness. It's a way to encourage more joy in a sometimes joy-less world and to help us see the ways Christ's light shines in the hearts of people of all cultures, races, types, and times. While we do sell some merch, we keep Lent Madness free for anyone who'd like to play.

Forward Movement offers other resources for free. If you or someone you know is wondering how to raise children in the faith, check out Grow Christians, a free resource for households with chidlren trying to sort out what it means to follow Jesus together. Forward Movement offers free podcasts, apps, and a rich daily prayer website, all for free. They also give over 100,000 books and booklets away for free each year, mostly to prisons, but also for hospitals, nursing homes, and military bases.

Everything Forward Movement does is made possible by the generosity of donors. If you are able to make a gift to help Forward Movement continue to share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ, your gift will make a difference. If you can't make a gift, that's OK too.

We wish you a joyous fifty days of Easter. Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.

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Is Advent the new Lent?

Dear friends in Christ,

Sometimes you hear people talking about how we should all be Easter People. As you know, the Supreme Executive Committee rejects this view. Both of us (Tim and Scott) think we should all be Lent People, and that's why every single episode of Monday Madness ends with "Happy Lent!" regardless of what time of year it airs.

But seriously, we love Lent not just because it's the time of year for the Saintly Smackdown. We love Lent because it calls us to renew our walk with Jesus. Lent is a kind of spring cleaning for the soul in which we turn away from all the distractions of the world and turn once again toward Jesus.

2020 has been a year of distractions, and that's putting it kindly. Thousands and thousands are dead from a pandemic. Political leaders -- regardless of your preferred party -- have not exactly demonstrated excellence in leadership. We've seen racism exposed in new ways. Violence of all kinds seems to be on the rise all around the world. If ever there was a time for us to turn toward Jesus, this is it.

That's why we're especially looking forward to Advent this year. Sure, we like it because it's a purple season and we can wear our team colors. More than that, we are grateful for the arrival of this season, which like Lent, calls us to turn toward Jesus. We're preparing for Christmas rather than Easter, but both Advent and Lent invite us to turn away from distractions and turn toward the most important things.

Though most people think of us as Lentologists, we do know a few things about Advent and especially about turning toward Jesus. Here are some suggestions to savor the gift of Advent. We hope you'll think about how you'll approach Advent ahead of time, so you can be ready to make space for the still, small voice of God. Yes, we're saying this is the Advent for Advent.

Without further ado, here are some suggestions.


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Voting When There is No Bracket

With just 128 days until Ash Thursday, the world is watching for Lent Madness news. It won't be long until the 2021 bracket is revealed, and soon it will be time to order your Saintly Scorecards and bracket posters to get ready for the World's Largest Online Lenten Devotion and also the World's Oldest Continually Running Bracket Competition.

Until then, we're left with other news. Our US-based readers will have seen the constant chaos that is the US political scene. While it's true the Lent Madness sometimes hangs in the balance as Tim and Scott squabble as the sworn archnemeses they are, even the Supreme Executive Committee has nothing on the yellfest that was the recent "debate" between leading presidential candidates. No, the rumors are not true. Neither Tim nor Scott offered coaching on how to be an archnemesis.

But seriously, we know that many of our Lent Madness fans are distressed by the state of discourse in American politics. We long to be able to connect with people with whom we disagree, and we yearn for the deep peace of Christ. Whatever our political persuasion, we believe things could be better. Whatever our views, we hope for peace.

Our sponsors at Forward Movement are offering two resources that might be helpful.


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And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

Forward MovementIf your eye has ever drifted over to the right side of the Lent Madness website, you've no doubt noticed the Forward Movement logo there. Now if you know anything about Forward Movement, it might have surprised you that the venerable publisher of Forward Day by Day would sponsor Lent Madness. "Aren't these the people who publish pamphlets?" you might have said.

Here's the thing. Forward Movement has actually been working hard since 1935 "to reinvigorate the life of the church." The mission of Forward Movement is not to publish things, but rather to encourage discipleship and support evangelism. So Lent Madness is a perfect fit: it deepens our knowledge of how God has worked in the lives of ordinary men and women and it invites non-churchy types to think about saints.

If you're new to Forward Movement -- or if you haven't been keeping up with recent changes -- you might want to check out the website. There you'll find plenty of resources, both printed and electronic. Here are some recent hits:

  • The Bible ChallengeTheir first smartphone app, Day by Day, is out for iPhone. In addition to the daily meditation from Forward Day by Day, you can get the complete text of the daily office -- including lessons, psalms, and proper collects -- in Rite I or Rite II. There's info about the saint of the day, and plenty more.
  • The Bible Challenge is a book of meditations to accompany you on a yearlong adventure of reading the entire Bible. Contributors include SEC member Scott Gunn and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
  • Deep Wisdom, Holy Struggle was published in partnership with Trinity Wall Street. Continuing themes begun in Joan Chittister's book, The Radical Christian Life, Barbara Crafton offers reflections and questions on how the six pillars of Benedictine spirituality can be experienced and lived out in our lives as individuals and in community.
  • For Lent, Forward Movement published a small book of meditations by Carol Mead called Disciples on the Way. We're still pretty early in Lent, so you could download the ebook today (for Kindle or Nook) and add another kind of Lenten reflection to your spiritual practice for the season.


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