The following description of Lenten practices in Germany, and especially The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) partner church, The Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche (SELK), was shared with the Eurasia Blog by Rev. Markus Fischer. Pastor Fischer is a SELK pastor, serving St. Trinitatisgemeinde in Leipzig. The LCMS supports the work of this congregation through the sending of missionaries (Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman) and other support.
In the seventies, there was a revision and change of the Sunday Gospel readings in the protestant State Church in Germany. Although our Lutheran church (the SELK) didn’t adopt these entirely, the result was the loss of the distinction of Lent and Passiontide. The traditional character of Lent was changed in favor of remembering the suffering of Christ—without any perspective of Easter (some argue, this is why there is a denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in German protestant churches). Jesus is just regarded as a model—a model for fighting against injustice. Against this our Lutheran church tries to reintroduce the distinction between pre-Lent, Lent and passiontide (beginning from the Sunday of Judika or the 5th Sunday of Lent in the 1-year lectionary). We have to stress the vicarious suffering of Christ and His corporeal resurrection.
Most Lutheran congregations are accustomed to passion devotions during the week, beginning from Ash Wednesday. Some congregrations listen to the entire report of Christ’s suffering (e. g.: one year according to St. Matthew, next year to St. Mark…) intermitted by sturdy German traditional hymns, which we really love, because they connect us to the important parts of our most holy faith. Few congregations know the Imposition of the Ashes. This may be because they view it as a Roman Catholic practice. During Lent, no festivals should occur in the congregations like BBQs (parties) and weddings.
Fasching, which is like Carnival in other countries and takes place between the final Sunday before Lent and Ash Wednesday, originally is connected to Roman Catholic areas of Germany only. It ends completely on Ash Wednesday. But now a lot of people like to celebrate Fasching who don’t have any connection to the Christian faith.
- To support the work in Leipzig, you can send your gifts to: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 790089, St. Louis, MO 6310-79-0089. Note that it is for the Germany Leipzig Church Plant.
- Watch a video in which Pastor Fischer describes the work in Leipzig.
- Pray for the church in Germany, that it may be called to repentance and faith in the true Gospel!
Tags: 1-year lectionary, devotions, Fasching, Germany, Imposition of Ashes, Jesus, lent, Passiontide, pre-Lent, Rev. Christopher Ahlman, Rev. Markus Fischer, SELK, State Church, traditions, vicarious suffering