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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday 2009

Today begins the 40 days of Lent. I have never liked Lent very much. It is trivialized by bad jokes about giving up lettuce, celibacy or other insignificant items. Many have ashes put on their foreheads indicating that they are dust and ashes, unworthy and full of sin. I may have received ashes once or twice in my life but it is not a habit of mine.

We Christians and people of western culture are arrogant, self-righteous, self-centered, greedy, gluttonous, violent, wasteful, cruel, prejudiced, racist and lacking in sensitivity, caring and compassion. We are all of those things and more.

We need reminders that or human nature is engulfed in evil. We mostly acknowledge that it is so and blithely go along doing the same old bad, evil and wicked things we have always done.

The church has proclaimed the season of Lent as a time of self-examination and repentance in preparation for the great new life that comes to us in the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

The late Horace William Baden Donegan, Bishop of New York in the 50’s and 60’s said he thought 40 days ws too long and should be shortened. It was unrealistic to think people today could sustain 40 days of fasting and penitence. I agree. (Bishop Donegan ordained me Deacon and Priest in 1956)

In church we have six Sundays of purple or blue vestments, somber hymns, no alleluias, hosannas, weddings (usually), nor flowers at the altar. There are weekday programs usually poorly attended.

The leaders of one parish in San Francisco believe every Sunday is a feast day and have done away with traditional colors and music for the Lenten season.

When I was a rector, I always permitted weddings and flowers at the altar during Lent. Often people wanted to give flowers as a remembrance of a parent who died in the Lenten season. Circumstances may demand people marry during the 40 days of lent. Why should rigid churchy rules interfere with human living?

In Lent we are usually reminded of the seven deadly sins, anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, lust, pride and sloth. I suggest sermons and teaching on the seven virtues, faith, hope, charity, justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance be expounded.

While many Christians think they are free from the old church teaching against sex, alcohol and pleasure in general. I know deep in the hearts of many homosexuals there is deep fear of going to hell, a sense of being evil because of their sexual practices. In the heart of many people who have had non-marital or extra-marital sex a deep sense of shame and pain persists.

When sexual relations have hurt other people, those sins need to be confessed, contrition made and forgiveness received. But the church has to go a long way on being a sex positive teacher Sex is a natural and normal and joyous and life-giving part of human life, a gift to us from God. Same gender sex is natural and normal for a large proportion of the people on this plant. Lent can be a powerful time to face our sinful nature but also to proclaim the joys of being human, the positive and powerful parts of our human nature, creative, pleasure loving, generous, caring and loving.

The positive part of our nature is best expressed in serving others, voting for measures that bring healing and prosperity to the poor and needy. It means doing simple acts of love and mercy.

My 83-year old friend tells me how much he enjoys the weekly visit of his friend who drives down from Sacamento to San Francisco once a month to visit him.

I heard of a woman named Katherine who visits a 93-year-old neighbor woman each evening and thy have a martini together.

I let a car go ahead of me in busy traffic yesterday.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Fred Fenton said...

Robert, you state that "We Christians and people of western culture are arrogant, self-righteous, self-centered, greedy, gluttonous, violent, wasteful, cruel, prejudiced, racist and lacking in sensitivity, caring and compassion. We are all of those things and more."

Then what pray tell is this "great new life that comes to us in the resurrection of Jesus at Easter?"

The world sees the blatant contradiction between what we profess and the way we live our lives. Is it any wonder that religion is waning?

Fred Fenton

1:50 PM  
Blogger RWC said...

Easter is the HOPE of new life.

4:07 PM  

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