People, I just looked at the school and church calendar and for the first time in a LONG time, spring break and holy week align! I. Am. Thrilled. Actually, I’m a little floored thinking about why this even matters to me and laughing that it’s only June of 2019 and already I’m trying to figure out where I will be April 2020. School and church are the structural liturgies of my life – practices that continue to repeat, different and the same, predictable only in timing and season.
9 years ago, as we were starting to meet regularly as Christ Church Davis church plant, I had no idea what a liturgical calendar was. I remember our new friends talking about liturgy, and my only association with the word leaning toward what little I knew of the Catholic (big C) church that my friends attended as children. Having attended mainly non-denominational, protestant, evangelical churches throughout my childhood and then being drawn to the rock bandy college services of the baptist and covenant churches of the early 2000’s, I really had no other context for the word liturgy. No one used this word, even if its practice was present. I associated liturgy with latin services, priests in robes, an incomprehensible, separate God and scripture, incense mixed with musty perfume and hair spray – and everything opposite of my own personal, buddy-Jesus upbringing (DOGMA got this one pretty perfect).
a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted.
3 years later, I had been attending this Christian Reformed Church, loving its cadence, hospitality, predictability, community – Loving the story and being part of it, and volunteering as a teacher and musician while I attended. At that point, I said yes to joining a fellowship along with 5 other friends (4 known, 1 new). This fellowship felt like a crazy dive into understanding what the Christian faith is, how it is formed and practiced, how churches throughout history have understood this mysterious story, and what my place in that story is – in church and out. It was at this point that I, along with this cohort, made an agreement to hold one another accountable to some practices, formative disciplines if you will – and we used the text Seeking God’s Face to lead our prayers each day – This book is a wonderfully condensed way to pray if you love the Book of Common Prayer, but if like me, you were not really clear about how to utilize these prayers.
What I quickly noticed as I read these prayers daily, was that many of the Christian bloggers I followed were writing about the same stories I was reading and praying. Their work and these prayers also aligned with the scripture read in church each Sunday. What? Liturgical calendar…..more than just our church follows such a thing? This was news to me and wonderful news at that. This gave me a way to prepare my heart and mind for Sunday – to relate to other Christians all over the world, and to fully see how the story is repetitive – that the life and death of Jesus continues to be the covenant that seals our lives and shapes this world.
ritual, worship, service, ceremony, rite, observance, celebration, ordinance, office, sacrament
Fast forward to today, and beyond my little prayer book, I have resources bookmarked to remind me the scripture for the week, a constant document running to help remind me what music aligns with the passages, and I can usually tell you in what week of the liturgical year we find ourselves. These practices, in most circles of my life, seem gauche to talk about in regular conversation, and I still find it difficult to articulate how these practices form who I am and help me shape my own story. That I was excited to find out that Holy Week and Spring Break align has nothing to do with fun beach camping plans or trips to exotic Spring Break destinations, and all to do with my ability to fully engage in the days leading up to remembering the ways that Christ sealed a new covenant with mankind. This reaction doesn’t fit into brief glimpses of social media perfection and imperfection, though it feels more than noteworthy. This means that my faith liturgies and my work life liturgies will align, that I will be able to rest and recover from school and from Lent, all in the same breath – and I’m thrilled.
Talking to a friend recently, he claimed that Time doesn’t really exist, that it is relative and fluid and explained how he really has trouble following time in any regular and expected way. I get that – and on a molecular level, this makes sense – a thousand heartbeats to a hummingbird happen at the same rate that a human heart beats 50 times. Time to a hummingbird is different than it is to a human. Maybe this is why liturgical practices are so comforting, because I value structure and while I have a bent toward spontaneity, I really thrive in predictable routines. Recognizing these liturgies has become second nature, have become part of my life – whether I actively recall them to mind on a daily basis, or move along automatically to the slow beating rhythm in the background – helping to determine the decisions that will be made – this heartbeat, these practices, set Time and give peace to the movements of the world – aligning the hummingbird and my own heartbeat, if only for one beat per day.
As I posted recently, I’m working on remembering the practices and finding the rhythms that ground me in this life, in this story, in reaching the goals set before my life and my heart. So, whether you currently set yourself in Trinity Tide, The Time After Pentacost, Ordinary Time, or just plain old Summer Break – cheers friends – I hope you find small things that maybe seem gauche to the world around you, but thrill you to no end.