Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism


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Bright sadness: thoughts for Ash Wednesday

Those who know me know that I take fasting pretty seriously. That does not mean that I am a master of the fast; I get grumpy, get tempted when I fast; I am weak, ill-disciplined and self-centred. However, I am serious about fasting because I am slowly coming to understand that fasting helps me to understand those most deplorable qualities in me. It certainly is not pretty, but does give invaluable insight. It is a pain, but full of gain.

You see, the date of Easter is in the diary, it will come and there will be hallelujahs (that word was typed before Shrove midnight!) aplenty, but it can mean very little if we simply let it fall upon us. A few years ago I walked to the summit of Mount Snowdon. It was a great climb, but I was put out to see people arriving at the summit by train from Llanberis. They had not put in the time and effort, but just bought the ticket. However, I overheard their loud complaining about the weather or the less than perfect view, and I understood that my investment gave the greater enjoyment of the beauty and magnificence of that little bit of creation. We often arrive at Easter like those who roll off the train, and we might get something from the experience, but it is definitely worth arriving the hard way, for the hard way is the way of beauty.

The classic move of giving up chocolate is simply useless. I mean, what is the point or significance of that? Fasting need not be extreme (and should not be if you have health problems), but it should make some significant impact on our lives. This webpage offers some suggestions and advice on fasting. Remember that we can have Sundays off from fasting, and that is why there are 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. As the average British person consumes so much more than the global average, and not just in terms of food, fasting can have a social-justice focus too.

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A Christian Passover haggadah

Passover HaggadahJewish Passover usually falls sometime in Christian Holy Week. The two are connected, and the Christian celebration of Easter, Pascha, began as something of a continuation of Passover, Pesach. April DeConick has written a short blog post on today’s Christians celebrating Passover. She reminds me of the many issues about Christians celebrating the Jewish feast.

We celebrated Passover at All Hallows Church in Twickenham this week. It was an act of worship based on traditional Jewish haggadot, including some Christian elements. The Passover haggadah celebrated by All Hallows can be downloaded in PDF format. It is a Christian haggadah, whilst trying to remain faithful to Jewish tradition, in which the afikoman and third cup are reinterpreted eucharistically.

Thoughts and comments, please…