Good News, by Lucas Woodford
Summer has officially started. June 20th marked the beginning of summer. Were you ready? Got your grill out? Got your lawn games ready? Summer weather was certainly here sooner than June 20, but now it’s official.
In fact, July 4th is one of the most vacationed weeks of the year. Were you prepared? Camper ready? Tent ready? Clothes packed? Food prepared? Floaties and water toys ready?
The seasons of the year are interesting. Living in a state that has four seasons, they simply become a part of our life. The longer we live, the more we begin to learn and expect the changes that will come. Summer means shorts and suntan. Fall brings fabulous scenery. Winter means warm clothes and way too short of days. Spring brings a sigh of relief.
Our life is ordered by these seasons. In the midst of them we celebrate birthdays and holidays. We have good days and bad days. What’s interesting is that the church year is not all that different. It also orders our life. But it does so to prepare us for eternal life. The liturgical church year intentionally and regularly connects us to the One who is the resurrection and the life. It’s meant to connect us with Jesus Christ, so that here in time, we might have life and have it abundantly.
Like a great waterwheel, the liturgical year goes on relentlessly irrigating our souls, softening the ground of our hearts, nourishing the soil of our lives until the seed of the Word of God itself begins to grow in us and comes to bear fruit in us.
Yes, it’s repetitive. Yes, it’s ritual. But it’s necessary. Why? It’s necessary because our sinfulness is often repetitive and very often a ritual. God knows our weakness and he knows what we need. We need to repent. And we need His forgiveness.
The church year is simply the story of how God gives us that forgiveness and that life through Jesus Christ. We live it and relive it, season after season, year after year, so that it might become a part of our being, now and eternally.
My family goes on our annual week long summer vacation over the fourth of July. We have to start making preparations a week in advance. With a family of six you have start early. Life jackets, fishing poles, bug spray, sun screen, swimming suits, marshmallows and roasting sticks – they’re all a must. We have to prepare for the beginning and the end of our vacation. If we don’t, our vacation won’t happen. We make such preparations so that we can rejoice in our vacation.
So it goes with the liturgical year. It prepares the way of the Lord. It concentrates us on the two great poles of the faith – the birth and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ -so that we might rejoice in the life Jesus has given to us. Christmas and Easter trace the life of Jesus for us from beginning to end. But they do even more. They challenge our own life and our sense of meaning.
We might often wonder about our purpose and direction. When we do, we are invited to see our life in the life of Christ. Something as simple as the church year gives us that powerful reminder. You are not alone in the life that you live. Christ goes with you even as you go with Christ.
In short, the church year is a simple path to a deepened spiritual life.
The liturgical year leads us through all the great questions of faith. Such questions are good to ask. Sometimes we forget them, but each Church season we are reminded of the answers that come in Christ.
The Church year prepares the way of the Lord. It’s more than a calendar; it’s the narrative of God’s Word ordering our lives. It rehearses the dimensions of life over and over for us all the years of our days.
Time again we are given hope. The tomb is empty! Sins are forgiven. Darkness has been defeated. Week after week, season after season, year after year, the way is prepared to live with Jesus.
The Rev. Lucas V. Woodford is the Sr. Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Mayer.