As I sit to write this, the energy of the first day of school is hanging like thick clouds of anticipation in the air of our neighborhood in Spring City. Although the summer heat has hardly given us even a hint of a break, the changing of seasons are often marked more notably by the human construction of rituals and practices that we impose to keep some of us sane. I’m one that would hang on to these slow mornings and late summer evenings for far too long while I know others who are quite eager to see the kids get on the bus! The patterns and rituals are good. They keep us grounded when so much of the rest of life is often unstable.
These rhythms and patterns are infused into the life of our Church worship as well. Each week we gather in a very rhythmic and sequential way. Gathering together to express gratitude and devotion to the God whose love has given us our breath, course correcting the ways in which we’ve lost track of that love, receiving that love afresh in the sacrament of communion and being sent out into the world in peace to love and serve the Lord (thanks be to God). This is our liturgy. These are our Church routines. They keep us grounded when so much of the rest of life is often unstable.
Each week at the beginning of the service it has been my practice to impose a mandatory deep breath of quiet, allowing ourselves to shift off of our own time, and into God’s time. It’s something I do selfishly for myself and since I’ve been with you all I decided to make you all do it too. No one has ever complained to me about it and several of you have commented on how much you appreciate that moment of quiet so I assume it’s a good thing for everyone. Either that or everyone is just too polite to say anything! I’ll go with the first option. We need these moments to catch our breath as we shift settings or seasons and we find ourselves in a breathtaking moment right now as we shift from summer into fall.
As we approach our fall kickoff we take a moment to catch our breath and remember who we are, what we are doing as a Church, and the grace and love that has been given us by God through Jesus Christ. We impose the incredibly important ritual of gathering together weekly as a Church as a way of remembering these things. I recently read a compelling piece of writing about the liturgy that we participate in every week that reminded the reader that the meaning of liturgy is “the work of the people”. The piece continued, “It is our work to remember God. It is our work to remember who we are. It is our work to remember we’re part of a family, a long line of women and men, strangers and strugglers and dreamers who have all gathered around this table Jesus made possible.” (Taken from Love Big Be Well: Letters to a small-town Church by Winn Collier)
In a few weeks we will have our fall kick off here at Church. I hope that you’ll join us, your Church family, as we embrace these stabilizing rituals and remember well who we are together.
Grace and Peace,