Lent starts next week (Part 2)

It has bothered me for some time that so much of the church– at least the evangelical/protestant/charismatic type crowds I have run in– skip nearly everything about the church year, then give token attention to Christmas and Easter. We’ve all heard about the so-called C.E.O. Christians (Christmas-Easter-Only), and I have wondered that maybe the church has created or contributed to that problem by draining the meaning out of the rest of the year (well, except for the other ones we can commercialize, i.e. Saint Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day).

Sure, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection are undeniably the big ones to focus on, but they pop with even more meaning when they are understood as a part of the whole worship life of the church, not just holidays that we have to argue with Santa and the Easter Bunny for. Maybe we wouldn’t have to remind everyone that “Jesus is the reason for the season” if we made Jesus the focus and reason for every season of the year? Oh, and if we told people that “St. Nicholas” was a real “saint” and a bishop in North Africa? That he has a feast day on December 6th each year? That he loved Jesus and that’s why he did nice things for people? Hmmm…..

Why does Christmas fall when it does? Aside from specific date (December 25) reasons, it’s there because of Advent (when we prepare for Christ’s first coming), and Advent starts the church year. What about Epiphany? What about Pentecost Sunday? That’s pretty important too, I think. What about all the other holy days (ahem, “holidays”) that we skip over, that communicate the story of the gospel and the life of Christ all year long every year? What about all the lives of the saints that we can meditate on and learn from throughout the year? What about Trinity Sunday? That’s a good one. What about the lectionary cycle that reads the whole church through most of the entire Bible each and every year? Oh yeah, and then there’s Lent… which prepares us for meditating on the last week of Messiah’s life, the Last Supper, communion, footwashing, suffering, crucifixion, actually being dead, and then rising again! Woo!! The whole church keeps getting a steady diet of the gospel and those who don’t yet believe can get a good, long taste of who and what we really are.

My Mom used to have a little plaque that said something like “The best gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.” I think that’s pretty true. Applying that to the church, it seems like from the 1960’s on the (evangelical) church has worked really hard to distance itself from the “roots” part (“we want relationship, not religion”) and to spread its wings and fly… and fly it has! And innumerable awesome things have happened in the life and growth of the church since then! The problem is I think we worked so hard to spread our wings and fly that we have lost our roots in many ways… and there’s a generation that is flying around in circles, looking for a place to land, tired of striving for the next high, tired of raising the bar, of being innovative, being flashy, being cool, being current, all in the name of saving the lost and getting bigger.

Don’t get me wrong: we need to evangelize, we need to stay in touch with culture, and it’s probably good to be “cutting edge.” But if we have all that and no roots, no stability, no theological richness, no connection with the rest of the Body, then I think we’ve missed a good chunk of what God had in mind.

May we all find the healthy balance of having roots and wings, in our personal devotion and in the life of the church. There’s a generation coming along (and some old folks too) needing and looking for the power of both.

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Filed under Church, church year, emerging church, Theology

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