Tag Archives: Lent

Easter and Tolkien

 

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My Easter thoughts have brought me, as many thoughts do, to Tolkien. In the final installment of the Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King, after death himself, Sauron has died and the Ring with it, the hobbits find themselves in Gondor. Sam, coming around asks Gandalf what day it is, and thus Tolkien writes:

‘Noon?’ said Sam, trying to calculate. ‘Noon of what day?’

‘The fourteenth of the New Year’ said Gandalf; ‘or if you like, the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning. But in Gondor the New Year will always no begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King. He has tended you, and now he awaits you. You shall eat and drink with him. When you are ready I will lead you to him’

A Tolkien scholar by the name of Tom Shippey describes the significance of this:

No one any longer celebrates the twenty-fifth of March, and Tolkien’s point is accordingly missed, as I think he intended. He inserted it only as a kind of signature, a personal mark of piety. However, as he knew perfectly well, in old English tradition, 25th March is the date of the crucifixion, of the first Good Friday. As Good Friday is celebrated on a different day each year, Easter being a mobile date defined by the phases of the moon, the connection has been lost, except for one thing. In Gondor the New Year will always begin on the 25th of March… One might note that in the Calendar of dates which Tolkien so carefully wrote out in Appendix B, December 25th is the day on which the fellowship sets out from Rivendell. The main action of the Lord of the Rings takes place, then, in the mythic space between Christmas, Christ’s birth, and the crucifixion, Christ’s death.

Knowing this, we understand the full force of Gandalf’s words and what is about to happen on the precipice of the city of Gondor. Death has died, Sauron is dead. The King has tended to us and awaits us. The king has returned to Gondor.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

I pray that as you celebrate Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday tomorrow, this will be what is on your mind. “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

–Your Humble Servant

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Lent and Friendships

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This Lent season is all about celebrating the incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus. We can not stop there. We have to model our lives after this example: reaching out to others, loving them, living life with them, and pointing them to the good news of Jesus Christ, that is the Gospel. That is how we follow Christ’s example. We, as Christians, are called to have these kind of relationships. It is through these relationships that we are able to recognize who we are, and who we are in Christ. This is no simple relationship that God is calling us to have with people, for it was no simple relationship that Christ has with us.

To truly live as a disciple of the incarnate, crucified, and resurrected One, we must not only acknowledge the present humanity of the other but also enter into a relationship where we share the place of the other. It is not enough to enter into a relationship where we simply meet the other in a kind of benign relationship— being nice, sharing a laugh, and being happy that the other person is present— while ignoring the other’s poverty (emotional, financial, spiritual, cultural, or physical) and pain. To stop here is to stop short of relationship. Rather, relationship, empowered by the humanity of God, demands action that is responsible for the very humanity of the other. Therefore, to be in a relationship is to take full responsibility for the other, standing in his or her place, becoming his or her advocate. (Andrew Root)

A year ago I did just that with two pretty amazing guys and I have never been the same since. I spent my senior year discipling two men, meeting with them on a weekly basis, living life with them, and loving them. What started as a relationship based on me selecting two guys to disciple ended with them becoming two of my best friends. It was through these relationships that i was able to finally realize what God wanted out of my life. It was ultimately because of these two men that I decided to go to seminary. In recognizing their humanity, I realized my own. And now these two men are doing the same. One is, for the second year in a row, leading a small group of men with InterVarsity, teaching and showing them the Gospel, helping them to grow spiritually as he does so himself. The other is leading the worship team and will be a member of V-Team for InterVarsity (or C-Team for those not privileged to be apart of IV at CNU). I can not put into words how incredibly proud I am of them. I am at awe at the work of the Lord that is being done through these two men and their willingness to pursue relationships that model that of our Savior’s.

I challenge you to do the same as we celebrate this Lent season. Love others, live life with others, and point others to Christ.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (I John 4:7-14)

-A Proud Pilgrim

Lent and St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patricks day, though maybe not at first glance, is very much in the spirit of Lent.  Today we celebrate a man that brought the Gospel to the men and women of Ireland.  At the time the Irish people were outside the bounds of the Roman Empire. They were considered barbaric and uncivilized, and many thought their illiteracy and volatile emotionalism put them outside the reach of the gospel. This man knew better. In a strange and beautiful turn of providence, he spent six years among them as a captive, learned their language, and developed a heart for the Irish. Like Joseph sold into slavery to one day save Egypt and his brothers (Genesis 50:20), so God sent Patrick into slavery to ready Ireland for a coming salvation.

St. Patrick took a different approach to reach these people. Instead of trying to Romanize them, he lived life with them.  George Hunter describes this in his book, “Celtic Evangelism”:

The fact that Patrick understood the people and their language, their issues, and their ways, serves as the most strategically significant single insight that was to drive the wider expansion of Celtic Christianity, and stands as perhaps our greatest single learning from this movement. There is no shortcut to understanding the people. When you understand the people, you will often know what to say and do, and how. When the people know that the Christians understand them, they infer that maybe the High God understands them too. (19–20)

Instead of acquiescing to the religious establishment, he took the gospel to the uncouth, unreached Irish. And instead of coasting to a cushy retirement, he gave 28 years to the nation-changing evangelization of Ireland.

So, today, have a Guinness, and raise your glass to St. Patrick, and Praise The Almighty for our Irish brothers who know and Love Christ because of our brother Patrick.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-An Irish Pilgrim