(My church newsletter column is entitled "When You Stop & Think About It." What follows is this week's column.)
We pay a lot of attention to what season it is but the seasons to which we pay attention depend on what our interests are. So, some of us are very much aware that we are moving toward the end of the Major League Baseball season; many of us know that the high school (Go ‘Canes!) and college football seasons are underway; some of us are excited when our favorite television show begins a new season (some of us are old enough to remember when all television shows observed the same season but that day is long gone); and others of us know by heart the beginning and ending dates for dove season, deer season, and turkey season.
Proper observance of the seasons orients our lives to what we enjoy or to what we think is important.
What is important to the Church? What matters the most to the Church? I would summarize it this way: what matters most to the Church is the expression of our identity as the Body of Christ through worshiping God, through following Jesus, and through being formed by Scripture.
Those are all actions but the actions have meaning and integrity when they express our ever-increasing desire to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Those actions all work together—our worship of God in the sanctuary will lead us to worship God through service in the world; our following of Jesus will necessarily cause us to take steps to grow in our personal relationship with Jesus but it will also necessarily cause us to follow him out into the world to touch hurting and lost people; our study of Scripture will change our attitudes, motivations and priorities which will compel us to express our increasing love and our increasing drive to serve by helping those who need our help and by ordering our lives in ways that will do good and not harm.
We are increasingly the Church as we increasingly worship God, follow Jesus, and are formed by Scripture.
The seasons of the Christian year orient our lives to what is most important. The Christian year begins with Advent and proceeds through the Christmas season and on to the season of Epiphany; those seasons comprise the first major block of “sacred” time during which we focus on the coming of the Messiah.
The second major block of “sacred” time, during which we focus on the death and resurrection of our Lord, begins with Lent, proceeds through Holy Week and the Easter season, and ends with Pentecost.
All other days of the Christian calendar are known as “ordinary” time, which allows us to focus on all aspects of who God is and what the Church is.
When you stop and think about it, since those seasons that we treat as most important both reveal what we regard as most meaningful and orient our lives toward what we find most vital, the Church should observe those seasons that point us toward God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that direct us toward the Scriptures that will help us to be formed as the children of God.