Tuesday
Mar042014

Mardi Gras

From Scott Hoezee

I grew up in a decidedly non-liturgical tradition in the Christian Reformed Church.  In fact, I recently elicited gales of laughter from my colleagues on the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship staff when I admitted to them that even one year after I graduated from seminary, I still had very little sense for the Christian Year.  During my first year of ministry, an issue of Reformed Worship magazine arrived in the mail.   This particular issue covered the Season of Epiphany, and so I asked my wife if she had ever heard of that word, which at the time I pronounced "eh-pee-fanny."    At the Ada CRC where I grew up, every Sunday was a little Easter and every Sunday was a chance to proceed through the Heidelberg Catechism, too.  We were neither detained nor derailed by things such as Advent, Epiphany, or Lent.   Indeed, I never heard those terms and was not exposed to them even in Seminary, as my anecdote just showed.

If I ever heard of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, I assumed it was some secular thing and had no chance to understand it was connected with something called Ash Wednesday and the beginning of a more austere season of fasting and giving things up in order to focus on the sacrifice of Christ.   Probably had I asked about such things, my queries would have been back-handed and dismissed with terms like "popish" and "empty ritual" and "superstition," which were the terms I most often heard expressed whenever anything remotely "Roman Catholic" came up.  

 Recently some family members attended a funeral mass for a Roman Catholic friend of theirs.  Afterwards they told me that many of the rituals of the service seemed so foreign to them and, just so, felt rather odd to them, too.

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