Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The calendar has been on my mind a lot lately. The calendar is the macro system we all rely on for scheduling our lives. It of course is broken down into smaller units of time so our days can include all the meetings and tasks we must accomplish.
Did you know that for a very long time the church was responsible for keeping the calendar for the community? In addition to the seasonal crops growing, the church let the community know what time of year it was. This was much of the purpose of the liturgical calendar in ancient times. The life of Jesus was broken down into particular times of the year such as Christmas and Easter. The church would tell the story of Jesus in terms of the time of the year. The birth of Jesus always happened during the winter. The resurrection of Jesus would happen shortly before the planting season began. Advent would begin sometime after the final harvest. Lent would occur around the time of field preparation for the next growing season. In short, the schedules of the community were driven by the church. In fact, in most of the European cities the church even held the town clock. The church bells would ring, tolling out the times of the days.
With this in mind, I have been thinking how we can again reclaim the church as our guiding light through the calendar. It is clear from the observation that church is the first thing dropped when another event comes up in competition for our time that this is worth discussion. What I wonder is how we can again reclaim the church as the center without sacrificing the other things in life that have become important.
The church used to begin the day with prayer. It marked midday with prayer and it closed the day with prayer. It did not ask you to give up the other tasks of your day, but instead use these times of connecting with God as breaking points between activities. You would wake up, say these prayers, and then go to work. At midday when you needed to stop to eat lunch, you would mark this point of the day with prayer. At the end of the day when it was time to sleep, you again would mark the day with prayer. This was known as "the daily offices." It walked people through the day. Along with the larger church festivals and holidays, these routines walked you through your year.
Year in and year out you would follow the life of Jesus as it paralleled your own life. Your activities did not compete with the church for time, but instead were led by the church.
It is in this vein that I ask how we can reclaim this. How can we again find a place where church is not asked to compete with the rest of life, but church becomes the center point from which our lives flow? How can we reclaim Jesus Christ not only of our spiritual lives but of our physical life?
I don’t have any answers for you on this subject, but I would love to talk with you and hear your feelings on it. I would love to hear what practices you have picked up that help keep your life centered on Jesus Christ and the community he has built called Church. Come by and share your thoughts with me!
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I wrote a sermon in Seminary and I think I even preached it here to y’all. It was entitled “He is Risen! … so now what?” I hate to think my best sermon writing is behind me now but when I can spend so much time focusing on one thing I guess you just come up with good material. The sermon spoke about all the things we believe about the risen Christ and how that makes our lives completely different. But it did not leave it there. It called us all to do something about it. You see if you are willing to announce to the world that Christ is Risen and that makes some kind of difference in your life you are now committed to living a changed life.
Last Sunday we watched the vignette from Rob Bell, “Sunday”. It this short film we were challenged to think of church as something more than a motion we go through once a week. The film asked us if we had ever attended a church service out of a sense of duty. Now this was not intended to be a judgmental question, although it could sound like it. It was intended to question what church means to you. It was asking why you come to church. On the one hand if you simply come because you feel you better or God might hit the smite button, he may have already done just that. I think Jesus said it like this, if you expect your outward actions and appearance will gain you some prize in the afterlife, than you have already received your reward.
Going to church is not about earning a reward or making yourself a better position on the community. Being church is a duty we are called to. All of us that call out He is Risen! We gain a duty when we say this. We gain a duty to serve the poor and the downtrodden around us. We are expected to have a changed life when we proclaim He is Risen! Church is the place where we come to learn how to make our hearts beat more and more like God’s. The film closes with the statement “The point is being a Christian. It means being a follower of Jesus. It’s being connected with everything that is true and good and right. Everything that goes on around us, that reminds us that there is so much more going on around us than we realize.” So announce out loud to your family and your neighbors and your coworkers. He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
<>< Pastor Chris