The past few days, I’ve been working on a variety of subjects all geared for the season of Lent. It starts on Wednesday, March 6th, which liturgical churches, such as St. Paul, know as Ash Wednesday. To my surprise, I’m beginning to learn there are many Christian churches, including some mainline denominational ones, that don’t have the same appreciation or awareness for what the church seasons, like Lent, are all about. It’s as if with the move in Christendom to be more socially relevant, old church stuff like seasons (except, of course, Christmas and Easter which tend to be seen as days and not the seasons they are) don’t matter any more. Too bad, it’s losing out on something very valuable when it comes to understanding our Lord Jesus.
For this reason, the seasons (well, at least half of them) focus on the life of Christ. The church year begins in late November or early December with the season of Advent, an exciting, anxious time of getting ready for Christmas (both the day and the SEASON — 12 days in number — you know, like the song). Christmas and Jesus coming into the world moves into Epiphany revealing who He came for — everybody. Those plucky, non-Jewish, Gentile type wise men who were the first to worship the newborn Savior prove that truth.
The Epiphany season makes way for the season of Lent, a time of penitential preparation for Jesus’ journey to the cross and our forgiveness of sin. This first half of the church year culminates with the joyous and glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning which starts the season of Easter for the next seven weeks. The rest of the church year is Pentecost with the Holy Spirit coming into the world and the building and growing of the Christian Church from its early beginnings.
So, what’s the big deal? Why should it matter? It’s a relic of the old church and I suppose it is. Yet, I think it offers the Christian, and the one searching for a solid spiritual home, the chance to see an over all picture of our Lord’s work, which is still going on. As a pastor and a preacher, I would admit there are times it would be nice to ignore some of the seasonally assigned texts from the Bible. I mean, some of those lessons are real “hummers” in the “how do I explain this” department. Yet, to avoid them means I don’t grow as a Christian or a preacher. It sure isn’t going to help the person in the pew wrestling with God’s Word who might find a little insight beneficial.
Maybe, just maybe, if we took a more seasonally, old church view, of the church year we might be able to see and celebrate, understand and appreciate that days like Christmas and Easter are more than one shot wonders. They are the book ends of God’s Word in the flesh, Jesus Christ, restoring us to a loving relationship which had been broken by sin. That might be worth it.
And those are my thoughts.
Pastor Lee R. Harder