There are reasons that the Church dwells in given seasons. It keeps us close to God’s story and God’s purpose for us. This seasonal rhythm is true for many expression of the Christian Church. Until the 20th century, all expressions of the Church used liturgy and church seasons. Today still more than 75% of the Church worldwide uses liturgy and marks the seasons of the Church with scripture, songs, teaching, and art (and more) which connect the Church to the life of Jesus and his Church.
It was a 20th century invention, coming mostly from North America and spreading to where those ministries had influence worldwide, to eliminate liturgy and the church seasons. People had good intentions. They wanted to help people in the culture relate to the church more easily. They wanted to help the Church relate to the culture. But in doing so, they cut off the Church from its historic roots and historic practice for 2,000 years. That expression of the Church lost the rhythm of being the church and adopted a culturally influenced work-calendar rhythm. In only 30 years, churches that led the way in “seeker-sensitive” services and grew to become mega-churches are already turning away from that model exclusively. In only one generation they have realized that they must include elements of worship that the church had long practiced. Maybe the Church that lasted for 2,000 years beforehand knew a thing or two?
We are in the season of Easter. What does it mean to be Easter people? For a season of weeks, it certainly means that we focus our Sundays around certain scriptures and themes. To what point? As those who rejoice over the resurrection of Jesus, as well as over the life with God he grants to those who believe, how now do we live? How now do we celebrate? Have we packed up our colorful baskets and colored eggs and moved on already with normal life? Well, yes. Of course. But normal life is a new normal for Easter people. In this Church season, we walk with the risen Christ before his Ascension into Heaven. We see the early Church inaugurated, expand quickly, and stumble through lessons to learn how vastly bigger is God’s mission to the world than the first generation of leaders had understood. In this time,we learn what it means as a healthy church to know, love, follow and obey Jesus as Lord. I wonder what God has emphasized for you in this season so far?
As we think of what it means to “journey with God” or “journey with Jesus,” as people like to say, we are helped to consider that journeys take time. As a leader in the church, I want people to “be” in a season with God. The American way is to rush, rush, rush. Activity is confused with productivity. So often I sense that I return to a simple call, like a chorus in a song, and cry, “Stop. Listen to God.” Maybe that is because I too find myself rushing. To spend time in the journey together as a church family is to offer more time to reflect with God and respond to God over what God is doing in us to lead us by his Holy Spirit. In our Easter rejoicing, let us not too quickly revert to the unrelenting pace of normal life as it was defined before the resurrection of Jesus. He is the Life-Light of the world. Things are different. His is Risen. The Lord is risen, indeed!