15 February 2008

Food Heresies: Lenten Feasting

Our church has a longstanding tradition of Lenten Lunches. The first thing that must be explained (at least I needed an explanation when we moved here) is that "lunch" is any food eaten between the traditional 3 meals of breakfast, dinner, and supper (Note also that "dinner" in this context always refers to the midday meal, never to the evening meal). I'm not sure if this distinction is a rural thing or just a regional thing. So, the "Lenten Lunch" in question is actually a meal served after the Wednesday evening Lent services, consisting of sandwiches and bars (another regional thing, I think--no one ever refers to sheet cake or cookies or desserts--they're simply "bars").

Now, the heresies here as I see them are possibly twofold:

1) Why are we adding a feast during Lent? Instead of denying ourselves, we add a meal?

Now one could argue that the benefits of the fellowship that occur during this time outweigh the objections, so long as people aren't totally gorging themselves (as I must restrain my children, who are wide-eyed with disbelieving joy at the thought of an extra meal that includes DESSERT, from doing).

And perhaps with a tinge of hypocrisy, I must note that this tradition does not irk me as much as it did in years past--my ever-ravenous pregnant self admits to being happy to see food at almost any time, Lent or no. Rev. Husband managed to do away with the Ash Wednesday "lunch" this year with a minimum of uproar--and that's the one that always seemed particularly incongruous to me. And to dust you shall return....would you like some bars with that?

So perhaps this has more to do with personal preference. Maybe some people are even fasting before the service, and then having this light meal after (doubtful, but possible).

And for some reason the concept of a soup supper before a Lent service doesn't bother me a bit. (Not possible here due to the midweek/confirmation schedule--classes conclude right before services.) So perhaps my uncomfortableness with the concept here has more to do with how I was raised, and perhaps this objection could be placed in the overly-popular category of adiaphora.

But:

2)Regarding the content of these lunches, there is no doubt in my mind that we have stepped--nay, leaped--outside the reasonable limits of orthodoxy and heterodoxy and fallen into the mire of outrageous heresy, from which redemption may not be possible.

Exhibit A: A "Lenten Sandwich" specimen: A small round piece of raisin bread, buttered or mayo-ed, then smeared with a mixture of Cheez-whiz, chipped ham by-product, and possibly some other unidentifiable ingredients (I do not deem it wise to get close enough to these to make a further study).

My friends, this is just not right. As long as this continues, I can only conclude the the future of orthodoxy in these parts is uncertain at best.

3 comments:

Rebekah said...

At least they have the good sense not to stuff themselves before [the] Supper, which is the practice around here. Good old Feastenzeit.

The Cheez Whiz, though--this is a strong argument for bishops.

elephantschild said...

Hmmm... well, we know exactly where Bishops have gotten the Church of England this past week, do we not?

And I submit to you: Presiding Bishop Kieschnick. Scared yet?

I suspect, although I'm not sure, it is a tradition that dates back to the days when in fact people of that congregation did routinely fast. They've lost the fasting and kept the *breaking* of the fast.

Not that that makes it hunky-dory. More often than not these issues aren't people intentionally TRYING to be in error - they simply don't know any better.

Just remember, dear confessional sisters, that the very freedom that allows such terribly wide variance in practice within our synod is the very same freedom which allows any given church to eschew the 3 yr lectionary in favor of the historic lectionary, to keep using TLH, to use incense, to wear chausibles, to hold Easter Vigil, quietly avoid the Ablaze special liturgy (oh, yes, there is one) etc, etc.

Ah, I've been rather punchy tonight, sorry... I'll go away now. :)

Pr. H. R. said...

The Real Story Behind Lenten NonFasting Suppers at MidWeek.

Wherein the Rev. HRC Declaims the History of the Same

American Lutherans are latecomers to any service not held on a Sunday. Lenten midweek services got going sometime after WWII. Advent services tended to come later - if at all.

Now, just ask any Lutheran pastor: how are you going to get folk to come to Bible class, or a midweek service, or anything at all out of the ordinary Sunday Morning service?

That's right: food.

+HRC