For many Pentecostals, traditions of the Church like the Sundays of Advent, or fasting during Lent, seem strange or even forbidden. True, Pentecostalism arose out of a desire to break free of the dead religious practice that Pentecostals observed in churches all around.
Unfortunately, however, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. In our efforts to rid ourselves of excessive formality, we also reacted against time-honoured practices that the Church has used for centuries to remind us of core doctrines, and essential truths.
It’s why many Pentecostals know when Mother’s Day is, but not Pentecost Sunday. It’s why our leader shares a title with the overseer of an apartment complex (General Superintendent) and not the more biblical title of Bishop. It’s why some of our newer churches more closely resemble community or immigration centres, than sacred spaces of worship. (For a new generation far more closely attuned to the importance of imagery and the Arts, the latter in particular may not serve us well.)
I’m encouraged to see more of us using the Sundays of Advent to help explain the miracle of the Incarnation, and kudos to those who are using the season of Lent to help focus again on the self-sacrifice required of every believer.
It’s true – following the Church calendar, and practicing in the traditions of old will not save us. But there is something special about participating in customs that Christians have found meaningful for 15 centuries. And let’s not kid ourselves – Pentecostalism has acquired plenty of dead tradition of its own…
It’s strange how we can so easily dismiss that which the Church has honoured for 1500 years, and yet fight to the death for that which we’ve practiced for only 50. Smile.