Monday, 13 April 2015

Getting ready for Ordinary time?

Well here's a little tip: DON'T!

Over the past few years I have noticed that Pentecost aside, many of the Christians I get to meet seem to live their lives by reclining in a Christian hammock supported by the twin pillars of Christmas and Easter. What happens between the two of them is pretty much a doze in which people are shaken awake by Lent and Advent but otherwise they exist in some 'mark time' somnambulistic, zombie-like state and this is, if you don't mind me saying so, where many of the problems with Church and growing it are to be found.

In my book Easter Day is the most important day in the Church's calendar. This is the day when the only power that sin has (death) is broken and so with the resurrection sin loses any power it might have had over us. It is the day when full and engaged reconciliation with God is made not only real but ours! 

Christmas is a joyful day because it marks the start of the journey to the cross but Easter is the day upon which the whole of our Christian year pivots and this, I think, is where, for many, the problems begin. For it appears that there are many who regard the remainder of the year as looking away from Easter and towards Christmas and once that's done they look back towards towards Easter again.

It's a bit like our little skateboarder below. The peaks are Christmas and Easter and after those two events it all goes down hill until things are at their lowest and then it's all uphill as the other Feast is approached and then down and agin and so on until we all die of boredom!

And there's more besides - Let's keep on going a step further shall we?

This year, by popular demand, our little church did communion on the first Thursday of the year - which was also New Year's Day - and I was surprised by the surprise many expressed that we had, 'Done a service on a Bank Holiday.' Because, 'It's supposed to be a day off!'  And so it is, if you happen to be a bank! But of course we aren't a bank - we are supposed to be Church - and on the first of January one of the things Church has done for many years is celebrate the naming and circumcision of Jesus.

In my travels I regularly hear of clergy and church members alike who seem to think that keeping feasts and festivals is something from 'days gone by' rather than something for today. I meet people who tell me that Lent is not something biblical and the keeping of it is questioned and derided as being wrong practice and yet many of these same people are happy to engage in shallow theology and trite songs (which they assume is 'worship') whenever the opportunity to 'celebrate' appears. Now as someone who has a music team and is definitely in a low evangelical expression of Church to write as I do is assumed by some to mean that I am 'high church' - but obviously I'm not.

But I am authentically Anglican and fiercely orthodox and wonderfully evangelical and passionate about living in the fullness of what being Christian really means. And it means 365 days a year, each with 24 hours within them to worship, love, live and celebrate the love of a God who through the sacrificial obedience of one who is truly man brings me into relationship with that same God and enables me by the power of His (that same God's) Holy Spirit.

We don't just live for the parties - we travel through the highs and lows, the triumphs and the tragedies - Easter and Christmas are wonderful but there's so much more to be touched and changed by. So let's get off our Christian hammock and live to the full until he comes or we have run our race.

Sounds like a plan to me ;-)

1 comment:

Gillian Meller said...

Thanks, Vic. I think part of the problem is that many people treat Christmas as finished on 25th December instead of celebrating the whole of the season, or don't even keep the Octave of Easter never mind Eastertide until after Pentecost. It's not going to be Ordinary time for ages! But when it is, I found Pauler Gooder's "Everyday God: The Spirit of the Ordinary" helpful and thought provoking. Blessings, Gill