I love the church year, the changing seasons and colors. Whatever else happens in the world, the church year goes forward. It is not like the chronological calendar year that starts on a number and moves to another number at the end. The cycle of the church year revolves, with hints of the next season, the next experience always ahead.
The colors change, the paraments change, the fabric and shapes of the banners, the flowers or the not-flowers at the altar. Some days the sun comes through the windows and lights up the sanctuary. Some days are dark but always lit by candles. Some days there are stars or a tree or a brand new Paschal candle.
And the music! I love the music – beautiful and haunting hymns from all over the world and all over time. I can feel the music. I love the tunes, the words, crescendos, sharp notes, soft notes, and the slowing at the end of the last verse or refrain. The notes sometimes rise in a sweet disharmony and then resolve. The gathering songs, the rhythm of the liturgy, the lilt of the sermon, the hymns of the day, the sending songs – all come together in a little cycle of their own in that hour.
Sometimes, many times, we are waiting, waiting during Advent, waiting during Lent. Lent is a usually a too-long wait for me but this year, I am ready to nestle into the long weeks of waiting. We have waited such a long time this past year. We started Lent last year with the assumption that nothing would change it, not knowing that Lent would be upended by events we had not imagined. But Lent did go on last year after all.
Sometimes we are active, cheering for Easter and the joy that follows. At Christmas, we give a big sigh for the relief of it all. The baby is born again! It feels good to bask in the joy and extra candles of Christmas during the cold winter, knowing that Epiphany will follow.
I confess that the Green Time is not my favorite. It is a pretty shade of green and the paraments are beautiful but…it is a long green time and I get distracted by events outside the church. For me, there would be camping trips, travels to family in Washington or Colorado, maybe a trip to the coast, barbecues, bike rides, hikes in the mountains or desert, and visits with neighbors when we come out of our houses.
Now in Lent, we wait. But we do not wait idly. We wait with expectation, with the assurance that what we hope for will come. Always there is hope in Lent and in the church year. Lent is a safe place, a time of reflection and gratitude for me. Easter will come.
In the church year, we know where we stand. We know what comes next. We wait together, knowing that people around the planet are waiting with us. The world has been holding its breath for a long time this year. But here we are in Lent again, just in time!
I can count on the church year – the steady movement forward and back around, the hymns that change with the seasons, the solidness of the pews, the flicker of the candles, the tastes of communion. Someday, we’ll sit in those pews together again. There will be harmony in the songs, in the liturgy, in the prayers. Some people will be missing and we’ll never see them again. There will be new faces because there are always new faces. Our church home waits for us, just as we wait in sure hope for Easter.
Let us pray...
Loving God, help us to relax into the seasons of our faith. Thank you for the reassurance and certainty that come with knowing that this year, like all the years before them, are filled with hope. Amen