Sunday, 5 April 2009

Passover 2009 - The COG Observance

For the curious, the committed and the de-converted, here are 2009's traditional holy days dates in the former WCG tradition.

* Passover: April 7*
* Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 9-15
* Pentecost: May 31
* Feast of Trumpets: September 19
* Day of Atonement: September 28
* Feast of Tabernacles: October 3 - 9
* Last Great Day: October 10

*Observed at sundown

Frankly, I preferred them to the liturgical calendar of my upbringing. The mainstream observances have long since been appropriated and rubbed smooth by Western culture. Easter? Chocolate eggs, bunnies, hot cross buns, and a much appreciated long weekend. That's about it for most people... except in pockets like Poland and the Southern Baptist heartland.

So, is there any place for those observances? What enduring value do they have? Strangely enough, COG members tend to ignore those questions and get derailed on postponements: not focusing on the why but the how (which, when you think about it, is a characteristic by no means limited to the Holy Days.)

And then, when we do talk about the why, it all turns on proof texts and alleged symbolism in God's putative Master Plan.

I'm doubtful about "Master Plan" thinking, even when mad Calvinists dress it up as "metanarrative", German scholars wax lyrical about heilsgeschichte, or Seventh-day Adventists try to pass off copies of "The Great Controversy." But to each their own.

How about in terms of making sense of your faith, grounding you on the shifting sands of everyday life, meaning something to you, not just as a correct tenet to be believed and practiced?

Passover? Unleavened Bread? Easter? How meaningful? Over to you.

No insults, no proof texts... "Bah, humbug," and "a curse on both your houses" posts will be held over for a week until those who have less strident views have had a chance to contribute. The same applies to any discussion on postponements and the technical intricacies of calendar calculations.


Purple Hymnal said...

On-topic response:

I would like to quote excerpts of a post I wrote for ISA, "Apathy is as Apathy Does":

"The church conditioned us towards impassiveness and indifference (if not outright revulsion) towards “the world”.

Contrast our attitude towards the world, with our attitude towards the church. We were not by any means psychopaths, devoid of human emotions!

Our emotions were channeled entirely into the church.

The Feast of Tabernacles was the biggest buzz to be had, in the church, and I don’t mean just from all the booze that was ingested for eight days. Singing along with the satellite transmission, knowing that a hundred thousand others (give or take) were singing the same words, in praise of the same god, at exactly the same time you were, that felt important, worthy, useful, dare I say we truly would “make a joyful noise”?? We did.

All of the holy days hold the same kind of association for me. I never got dunked (the changes hit right around the time I would have been eligible for baptismal counseling, and we exited shortly thereafter), so I never kept Passover, but the rest of it, I bought hook, line, and sinker. God’s Master Plan. Pentecost was FirstFruits, Trumpets was a foreshadowing of the Kingdom to come (three-quarters of a century, and that kingdom ain’t come yet), Unleavened Bread at least taught us how to spring-clean thoroughly, Atonement, well, Atonement did build character, even though building character by physically harming yourself is NOT a good thing.

The Feast, ah the Feast. That was what it was going to be like in the Kingdom. (Three-quarters of a century, and that kingdom ain’t come yet.) We took ourselves completely out of “the world”, we didn’t have to worry about neighbours or teachers or employers or even picketers.

Opening night, there was a charge in the air, you could feel it, almost taste it. This, this was what it was like to be “called out of the world”!!

Every year, I used to pray that the Kingdom would come on the Last Great Day, just so I wouldn’t have to go back to “the world”.

Even the Sabbath was special, to us, after all that was what it was all about wasn’t it? We were the only true Christians, keeping god’s law the way we were supposed to. Sabbaths were holy, revered, etcetera.

Sure, you had to sit and listen to a pastor scream fire and brimstone for two hours plus, but I remember getting to run around the rented hall, exploring all the nooks and crannies, hiding away with a copy of The Bible Story or going to YES lessons after services, or fellowshipping with friends and grown-ups alike.

Eating out after the Sabbath, breaking bread with YOU or singles or a couple families together, or even a couple of singles invited out to eat with our family. Sure, we drove the wait-staff to distraction, but for the most part, we just used discretion when reading the menus, and didn’t (for the most part) give them a hard time.

Visiting friends or other church members’ houses, and having them visit ours. Sure, the conversation was almost always apocalyptic, and had nothing whatsoever to do with current events (unless we were comparing current events to prophecy of course), and half the time was spent gossipping about and bashing other members anyway, but it still felt good, no matter how evil get-togethers like that actually were.

Bible studies during the week were like an informal mini-Sabbath. You still had to get dressed up, of course, but it wasn’t quite the same. No hymns, for one thing. Shorter fellowship, before and after. One verse expounded upon, instead of the usual string of Bible jigsaw pieces, fitted together to “explain” the theology the church taught us was the only truth available."

For those of us ex-members who were born and raised in the church, our emotions were channeled entirely into the church. Those, like Gavin, who were "called" had pre-cult personalities to go back to after they exited. For us, we don't have that luxury, and we will always be "strangers in a strange land".

Even though it has been many many years since I have kept the holy days, and I wouldn't even know the dates, if it weren't for the fact that I hang out (too much) on the ex-Church of God Internet, I am still affected by my life and childhood in the church; how could I not be?

Long, and rambling, but after over a decade of not even thinking of the holy days at all, that's what I think of them now. I don't know if it's better, or worse. Part of me thinks it would be better, if I could go back to the days where I just repressed it completely, and didn't even think of it. But on the other hand, maybe that's not a balanced approach either.

Pam Dewey said...

I have a complete website on the topic, from my perspective, of the value and importance of the biblical Feasts to Christians, which some might find of interest. See the link below. The title pretty much says it all ... "Times of Refreshing."

It's short on prooftexting, "Holy Day Offerings" are non-existent on it, and there's nothing about mind-numbing dry sermons. :-) It's long on fellowship and warmth ... or, as I put it, "The 3 Rs: Refreshment, Rejoicing, Remembering."

Last year, my husband George and I brought to the CEM Feast what I believe to have been a first ... Fireworks for the opening night. No, we couldn't pull off live fireworks. But I bought a video of major fireworks displays from around the world, and George synchronized various clips from that to the background of the Hallelujah Chorus done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On the big screen in front of 1000 people, it was pretty exciting, and I'm sure sent chills down many spines. It sure did mine, even though I'd seen it many times as we put together the video back at home.

THAT'S my approach to the Feasts. I personally find it exceptionally different from the approach of most historical COG groups.

Pam Dewey

Visit the Portal to most of Pam's websites:

Byker Bob said...

Two things occupy my mind these days with regard to the holy days.
One is that we can't really know on what date any of them actually fall. You might as well flip a coin. Remember, in the OT, if the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the wrong day, he died.

Secondly, without getting into all of the superstitious aspects behind ritual, I believe that we are at our best when we understand each of the events portrayed by the Holy Days, both in their pre-Jesus, and fulfilled form. It really does not matter whether we meet with the "correct" group on the "correct" day, what really matters is whether or not we have surrendered our will to God and have a personal and direct relationship with Him. In other words, the physical no longer counts for those living in the Spirit. It is what is happening in our transformed hearts that counts.

No corporate church group is able to prove behind reasonable doubt that they are the sole arbiters of truth and should be positioned in between ourselves and God. For that, they would need some sort of obvious witness from God, like Moses or Jesus had. And, that's not going to happen. The veil has been rent. It's now direct connection time! There always was too much opportunity for exploitation the other way!

If God does expect us to observe the Holy Days which He gave to Israel, it will be up to Him to straighten things out in the Kingdom. I'm way past believing that the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is going to return to establish Armstrongism as God's true government for the Kingdom.


Anonymous said...

Ritual has its place. Observances like the weekly Sabbath and the annual holy days, mid-week (and on Friday nights when I was younger) Bible Studies, choir practices, all that stuff made up the fabric of my life for the first forty years. I owe a debt to the WCG for the structure it provided when other things in my life were not very stable, but the fact is, any reasonable church that followed the liturgical calendar could have provided the same thing. Indeed,
after a year or so of leaving the WCG, I became an Episcopalian and enjoyed the church calendar and the altar guild duties. I loved Easter sunrise services and the brunch that followed, and also the big formal Christmas Eve supper with our family followed by Christmas Eve services followed by Christmas morning at home.

Today, as an atheist, I confess to missing the ritual of the Episcopal Church calendar, but I can't claim to miss the WCG holy days. In the end, I came to believe that we "worshipped days and times, seasons and years" more than God, and they eventually became burdensome to me.

Today our family has evolved its own traditions. We celebrate Halloween and Christmas and Easter, but in entirely secular ways. Fall is still my favorite time to go on vacation (although I like it a little later than the Feast of Tabernacles but before the snow falls). I've spent a lot of time thinking about the relative value of these things, and there's no question that they can help create community and traditions. I know Christians who can't find a church that lives up to their standards (ex-WCG and non-WCG alike), so they celebrate all alone or with a few close family members. If I were still a believer, I would have to find some community to be a part of. Ritual observances seem to require a larger canvas. That's part of the downside of being an atheist, and I saw an add for a television news shows featuring atheists who gather to share. I know an atheistic Episcopal lay priest who celebrates mass at a rural church "because not believing becomes tedious after a while." I understand his feelings even though I reject such a path for myself.

Corky said...

Anyone here ever hear of the Ugarit texts? Before you go to thinking that Jews are the only observers of those days, ya might just wanna check it out.

Jethro said...

I am an idealist. In the United States we have had a series of mass murders lately, and I want a world where that and all of the other evils of this world do not occur. I want a world where everyone is fulfilled and happy, and I want an eternity of peace and well-being for every human being. I know that some would say that is a hopelessly utopian and naive desire, but for me it matters. I believe that human beings cannot bring about such a world --- much less such an eternity --- but that God can. All of the holy days, including those in the spring, point towards that goal. This is not a matter of being passive. There is much for a Christian to do, but most of what we do does not involve trying to fix a system that is fundementally flawed. Only God can do that, and he will. I have no idea when, and it really doesn't matter. The point is that will happen. The weekly Sabbath and the holy days all point towards that. That is why they mean so much to me.

Purple Hymnal said...

Before anyone misunderstands me as somehow advertising for the holy days, I believe that the fact that our emotions were channeled entirely into the church is a bad thing, not least of which because without the church, I have no emotions to channel elsewhere, or no desire to channel those emotions, into things that, subconsciously, will never measure up. (To the oppression and the repression, etcetera.)

And Gavin, if you aren't letting partisan remarks through, why did you allow the ad for Dart's splinter?!

Baywolfe said...

I've started to delve back into the research of pagan rituals that are the root of most Spring and Fall religious days.

Not to dance around a Maypole, or any such dalliance, but to understand why our ancestors found a need to practice and observe these events. What did they actually mean to them?

It's also interesting, given the progression of religions beliefs throughout history, how long we have been stagnated in the current set of belief structures.

We are seeing the first signs of an outward movement away from Abrahamic religions, even if the steps are halting and unsure. Such beliefs as Scientology, and the unfortunates that offed themselves in California to get on the Spaceship, are just the beginning.

It makes me wonder if, a thousand years from now, they will be discussing today's religion observances in the same clinical tones we use for, say, worship at the temple of Aphrodite.

Purple Hymnal said...

For a Spring Holy Days observance of a different kind entirely, please join us in the I Survived Armstrongism chat on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 5PM PDT/8PM EDT.

Gavin said...

PH wrote: "if you aren't letting partisan remarks through, why did you allow the ad for Dart's splinter?!"

Probably the same reason that allows your "ad" for ISA chat.


Russell Miller said...

Hee hee, I'm staying out of this one...

Anonymous said...

Gavin, thanks for the more positive opportunity to discuss the Holy Days. You asked for no proof texting yet there is a scripture that says that they are a shadow of things to come. Some will argue that they are merely a shadow, but the scripture does not use the word merely.

They are a shadow, what casts a shadow? Something that is real, that is there. Of things to come? Passover prefigured the sacrifice of the Savior, and this we know after the fact, and can look into the scriptures to see where he was prophesied to do so. We are likely to hear and argument that the shadow is nothing. But the shadow does reflect or is evidence of the something that is casting it.

People have used the merely shadow argument to dismiss the holy days outright. 'Merely a shadow,' and then they argue to the merely.

You are correct that there are some who have held to these days that are caught up in postponements. There are so few who have, and those who have take even a Orthodox approach on the days that they keep. In other words, they will keep two holy days like the Orthodox Jews do. Some of these ideas have come out of Messianic Judaism. And some of the arguments for when the holy day calendar should begin sounds so much like what I heard in Sunday school as a kid about how we derive when Easter falls.

Additionally there are people who have argued we never talked about Jesus when in the CoGs. What I have discovered is that we talked about Jesus quite a bit, for a couple of months prior to the Passover, and the focus on discerning his body, his sacrifice for us for when we renew the convenant. The other holy days always seemed to center around him. Pentecost, the pouring out of the Spirit of God and Jesus promising that to his disciples just days before the event.

These days are days of deep introspection for me and for the meaning of my life. Am I living a meaningful life in the ways of Jesus Christ? I ask myself that through the year but I have this time to focus on that, to do a check up on myself and my walk as I seek that city whose builder and maker is God.

Anonymous said...

Pardon the indulgence of going off-topic ---

Here in my Americatown retreat in China, we have a long weekend due to Beijing's decision to let the people recapture true values by returning traditional holidays - Sunday was Qing Ming (Tomb-cleaning Day).

I understand that China is now the largest printer of Bibles, and has a fast-growing Christian population. I know a number of people who claim to be followers of Jesus, rather than name denominational membership. Some attend government-approved churches, and others meet in home-churches; some meet on Saturday, and some on Sunday.

Although HWA's strong hand from somewhere speech was considered "bringing the Gospel to China", and with Internet presence, a website hit counts as a "witness" to a nation, do any COGs have ambitions in China?

Laying aside the understanding that one is called, and the seeker will find, I don't think much impact would be made here without a change from the usual approaches - it does involve attracting a different breed of sheep, so to speak. From my understanding of the mindset, translating existing marketing into Chinese would not be the way, and existing material would need to be reworked to make an impact.

The population does not have the background in mainstream Christianity as found in existing COG markets, so confrontational approaches and wedge issues are not the way. One must consider the socio-cultural background. Example: The week starts on Monday here. Even some Sabbath-keepers are confused why they meet on Saturday, when Sunday is the seventh day of their week.

Baashabob said...

Like Jethro, I too am an idealist. I would like a perfect world, and I recognize that it probably won't ever happen if left up to humanity. I also agree that a lot of meaning and understanding can be gained, not by observing the OT holy days, but by studying the scriptures.

It is unfortunate that far too many holy day observers use their observance as an excuse to look inward at themselves and "their" little group. It is an excuse to sit on their bums and do nothing.

In contrast to that, Christ taught his disciples to love their neighbours and even their enemies. He taught that those who fed and clothed the hungry and the poor would be the ones to end up in that perfect world we all wish for. The ones who neglect those simple things will be the ones on the outside looking in.

kiwi said...

For me the holy days tutor us regarding the redemptive work of Christ which has past, present and future aspects and which is definitely worth celebrating in a new covenant manner as long as it is remembered that they are shadows and not the reality.

But the relationship of the Armstrongites to "the law", and therefore the holy days, is a vexed issue. Law, by its very definition, must be enforceable. The Levitical Priesthood enforced the law. But though even the most ardent Armstrong Coggie will admit he is not under the Levitical Priesthood, for some inexplicable reason he allows the ministry of Cogworld to play at Levitical priests (sans the garb) and issue proclamations as though they had a mandate of enforcement.
"Play at" is the correct term, for to enforce only some of the Law is to be a very corrupt priest indeed, yet Armstrong CoG ministers only ever enforce those bits that they like. How many will build a sukkah at Succot, for example??

Armstrongite ministers simply do not believe that new covenant holy day observance can only be driven internally, not by external rules and regulations. In Flurry's crowd for example the men must wear ties and the women pretty dresses in their own homes for the evening meal of the 15th. The shadow is everything; the reality often sadly is missing.

ED said...

I remember the holy days of the WCG as the time when the ministers explained year after year Gods plans for salvation, the hope for all of a hopelees humanity. This message was always laced with a heavy dose of shame and guilt. This was a dual message, whether it was deliberate or not, that set our minds to be filled with a certain kind of hope and special feelings of uniqueness that motivated us to stay the course because of the special rewards we the "first fruits " will earn for our faithfullness. At the same time we where constantly told we would be thrown into the lake of fire if we failed. This was a perfect way to keep the brethern comitted to the WCG. The combination of of both these contradicting messages had affect of keeping the membership locked into submission to the WCG.

Anonymous said...


"The Night to Be Much Remembered"
often turned out to be "The Night To Be Much Forgotten"
as spirit levels rose to an all-time high in Worldwide.

And doubtless, there was an abundance of speaking in tongues.

And the journey across the Nile after the original Passover was a Pharaoh for the Israelites.

It is understood that the Exodus was reported in the Egyptian papers and made a jolly good reed for the locals.

And of course, they had even had pyramidal crosswords in their papyrus publications...rather cryptic.

All the best for a good Parse Over.

Felicitations and Salutations,


Mel said...

I think there's something in most people that resonates with participating in rituals with others.

But in various destructive cults, this effect is used in a manipulative way, to the detriment of members' psychological health and growth.
For example, in the Herb-era WCG and many of the splinter organizations, the BIG ONE(the FOT), was used as an "indoctrination-reinforcement vacation", even though it had precious little resemblance to the OT Feast of Booths. It was kind of a twisted bone that Herbie threw to his followers. Fun, camaraderie, indoctrination-reinforcement, talking about how we were a part of God's chosen ones, how we were going to rule over others in the Kingdom, how the rest of the world desperately needed exactly what our church was teaching....
(Just like how so many other cults do)

In fact, even the Sabbath services, and the other Holy days too, served an indoctrination-reinforcement purpose. Cults need such things to keep their adherents getting the "fix" they need to keep on believing and supporting them.

Well, I like rituals.
I celebrate Thanksgiving, Halloween, weddings, Christmas and Easter in a non-secular fashion, Fourth of July, birthdays, and a bunch of others.

BUT - Those Herb-style faux OT "Holy Days and Sabbaths" had a totally CREEPY "Children of the Corn" quality to them-
Lying/deceiving to "outsiders" who didn't understand the TRUTH we knew, who weren't ready for the 'meat'.
Yes, we were part of GOD's ELITE 144,000, and the Chosen Ones, but rest of the world just didn't have God's Holy Spirit like WE had, so we couldn't be straight with them.

(Ha! ...
Doing so would have forced us to be straight with ourselves, too, but would have blown our minds.)

They'd never understand OUR meatier/stranger matters, or that our 'unnecessarily dead' church members were acceptable in the scheme of things, since we were The Chosen Ones, playing a Great Part in God's Mighty Plan.

God just hadn't chosen them, but maybe He would, one it made tricky deceptive language in dealing with them ok.
In fact, many a sermon mentioned how it was necessary, and gave tips on hiding who we really were from the "world" and how to be tricky with those who asked questions.

The rituals I participate in these days totally lack that creepy "Children of the Corn" feel that attending the OT festivals, in faux fashion, of the Herbie-style "indoctrination-reinforcement" type, which had only a passing resemblance to what they pretended to imitate, had.

Anonymous said...

Concur with Jethro, except that I'm not an idealist. Idealism as a philosopy seems to point to something that is wishful thinking. I am a realistic. The holy days and Sabbath are the yearly reminders that God will do what He says He's going to do and nothing will change that.

It's not just a hope. It is an unbreakable promise. And while I fall short in my humanity from this standard, which is the standard that Christ showed us, the times that God makes holy - not a church or a person/people - remind me that Christ can do what I can not, and Christ will do what I am not able to on my own.

Ken Cook said...

The one thing I miss is the egg and onion matzohs. They sure were yummy slathered with margarine (I have dairy allergy). I live in a small town now and can't get them without making a long trip to a big city.

The one thing I hated the most was Atonment fasting. I was always sick and throwing up by sunset.

Sermons & sermonettes & offertories could be good or bad. Good when they tried to encourage and uplift. Bad otherwise.

Singing in the choir on holy days was a wonderful experience. I love music. Figuratively, I don't think I could live without music (for instance, if I lost my hearing).

Singing hymns could be fun, except when we liltingly sang about dashing babies brains out against rocks (happy he that rewardeth thee, just as thou unto us hast done).

Getting a day off work and dressing up was fun (although I always hated tuxedos).

Eating with friends was terrific.

These were breaks from the "wordly" things. I believe, given the corporate/work enviornment in which I spent the past 31 years, I'd have taken time off from work only in dribs and drabs and never enjoyed myself, putting all my precious moments into my work.

Everything I just mentioned was either physcial or emotional.

But the clincher was knowing I knew something that only a few select knew. I think that was what got me caught up in the whole shebang.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh....what would we do without that inner "reflection" that comes with Passover? That guilt, thick as ribbon cane syrup, that we are supposed to feel when presented with the sacrifice of the Son of God- the awareness that we are so rotten, so evil, that God had to allow himself to be murdered so we could be "cleansed" and be bathed by His Love and Grace.

It's all a sick crock, though. God created us with a carnal nature that cannot help but break the very law that God created that condemns us. It's a catch-22. It's a set up. It's sick. God loves us so much he condemns us to die for the crime of being what we are, what he created us as. And he loves us so much that he is willing to overlook this- as long as we admit that we are rotten and evil and ask his forgiveness (for being what he created us as).

A pox on the genocidal, psychopathic God of the Bible. Give me a plain, straightfoward pagan god. They may play tricks on you, may even kill you, but nothing to sick and twisted as the mentally and spiritually abusive "Loving Father" of the Bible.

Imagine condemning your infant child to death- for urinating in it's diaper. And then explaining to the infant that since you love it so much, you'll release the child from the death penalty if it will just acknowledge how evil it is and acknowledge how loving you are. Sick, sick, sick.

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"The rituals I participate in these days totally lack that creepy "Children of the Corn" feel that attending the OT festivals..."


I know what you mean. Just stick those kids in cheap suits in a motel meeting hall and there you go.

I felt that I had a good grasp on doctrine- hell, I know I did. But the "meaning" behind the Holy Days was something I never could internalize. I looked forward to the Holy Day Rehash Message so I could "remember" what that occasion was supposed to "represent" or "look forward to." It never "stuck" with me.
There is a reason for that. It's because for most of the Holy Days, the "meaning" was made up out of thin air, at least the Jesus/Holy Day connections. There were no clear scriptures to turn to. You had to go to a booklet or write down someone's explanation. The COG's read Jesus into most of the Holy Days.

The Apostate Paul

Mark said...

It's sad, really, that we have so many factions that are at odds over the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The fact that we believe Jesus rose from the dead requires extraordinary faith that anyone of any Christ-oriented background- Roman Catholic, xCOG, Southern Baptist, should find common bonds around. I believe, in the end, our salvation will be based solely on this fact alone, and no other.

It's interesting, though, as a current anglo-catholic christian, the Passover was the one night that the minister in the WCG (or select your current flavor of COG) acted like a priest. It was very ceremonial and ritualistic. We KNEW God was there, because Jesus Christ told us about it in scripture.

If I am being honest, it was the ONLY time during the year that I felt God's presence at a service. That makes a lot of sense now.

I don't believe the day matters, because God is revealed as more than times and days now. I do think that this season is the ONE season which brings ALL Christians together around the world, whether you are Roman Catholic, Church of God (all Armstrong flavors), Southern Baptist, or ANY Christian group that believes in the resurrection.

That's the bond we will have throughout eternity.

Mickey said...

Personally, I think that rituals have meaning if you give them meaning. That isn't to say that we can easily dispense with them because I think we have an inbuilt need for them.

But the one size fits all approach was and is ridiculous.

I never "got" atonement. I never felt closer to God for it, only hungry, cranky and counting the minutes until sundown.

I liked the FOT some years because it was the closest thing to a real vacation I ever got after I started working. (Too poor or not enough leave time to go anywhere else) But I also resented it at times because that week could have been spent with my Grandmother (not a member) who lived across the country.

Passover only had the effect of making me feel wretched because of how imperfect I was. We were so set on our own imperfections (remember that whole "examine yourselves" bit?) that the perfection of Christ as our savior wasn't a consideration.

The other holy days just felt weird. Stopping out of life just so I could sit and listen to two bombastic sermons while sitting in an uncomfortable seat and devoutly wishing I were elsewhere.

I don't believe observance of WWCG's holy days made me a better person or Christian.

However, I participated in Communion at a Methodist Church and it felt right. I talked to the pastor before because I was not a member of that church and he said he denied no one because God knew who was His. The emphasis was on the goodness of Christ and His Sacrifice not on my being a dirty wretched sinner and doubt as to whether God would deign to save me.

I know such a service would be repugnant to many of the old hardline WWCGers, nor would it necesssarily mean anything to others, but I came away feeling more that the scripture about desiring mercy not sacrifice was much more applicable here than where I had come from.

Anonymous said...

"Ahhh....what would we do without that inner "reflection" that comes with Passover? That guilt, thick as ribbon cane syrup, that we are supposed to feel when presented with the sacrifice of the Son of God- the awareness that we are so rotten, so evil, that God had to allow himself to be murdered so we could be "cleansed" and be bathed by His Love and Grace."

You mention guilt. I am not sure that was what was proscribed as part of the program. The scripture told us to examine ourselves and then so let us eat. And that we were to discern the Lord's body. Discerning his body was not one of guilt but of profound appreciation for his sacrifice and the solemn meaning of his life and death for us. Not sure that guilt enters in, or even why here.

JD said...

The usefulness of the WCG/COG holy-day rituals is the same as anybody's religion's or spiritual tradition's rituals. They are a manifestation of man's innate desire for connexion to the spiritual. Yes, they - and everybody's rituals - are regularly perverted into something unhealthy. But they don't have to be, and they are not always. I no longer believe in holy day calendars, much less postponements. And, for that matter, no longer accept the Bible as Scripture. But I still believe in the spiritual, in what an irreligious person could call God. Now, and in my WCG past, I was doing as best I could to move toward what I called God and would now refer to as the spiritual or some metaphysical source that I believe must exist (even though, as atheists point out and I acknowledge, I cannot prove such a thing to the satisfaction of a judge and jury).

Leonardo said...

Very well said, JD.

I think the search for "metaphysical ultimates" is in us all - why else would we end up going down some of the nutty paths we do sometimes find ourselves on in our search for ultimate truth.

The thing that turns me off is when folks lock onto an ideology, including it's rituals, and then arrogantly claim that their's is the ONE and ONLY way to God, that everyone else OUGHT to do the same, and that if you DON'T buy into their dogmatic assertions then you are doomed by their deity to hell, or the Great Tribulation, or the lake of fire, or whatever threat their particular system "encourages" the un-believers with.

But I think your point as to the purpose of rituals is well taken.