Monday, November 26, 2012

Seasons of Worship and the Seasons of Life

As American people, we emerged from this past week with what I hope is more than a couple of extra pounds! Perhaps we have emerged with a deeper sense of gratitude for all of God’s blessings. Now that we have stepped through the door of Thanksgiving, we have entered what is customarily called the holiday season. This coming Sunday, the season of Advent begins. Like you, I simply love the smells and sights, the lights and traditions of this time of year.

There is something very earthy, very primordial about worship being embedded in our annual seasons. The deepest worship experience of the heart comes from realizing that worship is not a singular event designed to give you something practical you can use. Rather, worship is a life, a rhythm, an entry into the life of God and into the sacred story. When we give ourselves to the spiritual life of worship, rather than coming to it with our own expectations about what it should “do” for us, the deepest worship begins to happen in our hearts.

For this reason, the church has given us a holy gift in observing seasons of the Christian year. Our worship moments are guideposts along the way of life, and they are designed to immerse ourselves in the whole of the gospel story from start to finish. This last week was the big finale, Christ the King Sunday, when we proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. This week, the circle of life begins again. We go back to the deep longing for a Messiah, one who is to come and redeem the broken world we live in.

We are seasonal people in so many ways. On the largest level, there is an essentially seasonal nature of our existence. We go through seasons of our life as we age and through seasons in our relationships and our spirituality. On a slightly smaller level, each year we go through seasons that relate to the revolution of the earth around the sun. Our whole world goes through these seasons. Our worship life does, too, and we connect with the gospel story from beginning to end. On an even smaller level, each week has its seasons … it begins with the Lord’s Day of worship, we plunge into our work and projects, and we rest and play. On the smallest level, even our days themselves are seasonal … there is morning, noon, and night. There is time to eat, time to work, time to relax, and time to sleep.

The seasons of life, the seasons of the year, and the seasons of the day all remind us that we are people of the seasons. And here we go again.

It saddens me when cultural observances seem to take precedence in our minds over the holy days of the Christian year. As we go from Christ the King Sunday to the first Sunday of Advent, I invite you to enter the holy rhythm of worship life that has profoundly shaped generations of Christians. The life-changing glory of worship is that we worship in context of a greater movement of grace!