We’ve just come off a wonderful and sometimes a little difficult Advent season, with a new approach to music and more liturgical worship at Calvary. Some of those new things worked well; some did not (as evidenced by the long line to speak to me yesterday after the Woman’s Missionary Society meeting).
The thing is, since we’re Baptists, a liturgical style of worship sometimes seems a little like dressing up in your mom’s high heels and traipsing around the living room–exhiliarating but not quite comfortable.
The original thought, believe it or not, was not to antagonize the faithful. Rather, it might be useful, I was thinking–meaningful, even, to plug into some of the ancient traditions of the Christian faith and see where worshipping in the tradition of thousands of years of Christ-followers might take us.
What would happen to us 21st Century Baptists if we lit the candles and intentionally created a sense of waiting during Advent?
Turns out what happens is a lot of people get mad that we are not singing Christmas carols in December.
This furor over Advent is of some concern to me, you see, because we’re about to start on the liturgical journey of Epiphany. Our theme this year is, “Let in the Light”–inspired by Kate Campbell’s beautiful song, “Lay Back the Darkness” on her newest album, Blues and Lamentations.
We’ll be starting this Sunday with the Epiphany passage from Matthew and tracing Jesus’ earthly ministry through the Epiphany lectionary passages. We’ll be looking to see where and how Jesus’ message challenges us to open our hearts . . . our minds . . . a little more, to let in the light.
Part of the plan is to continue with some of the newer aspects of worship, like the sung alleluias, the new doxology and even lighting the Christ candle every single week of Epiphany as a visual reminder to let in the light.
Sure it is uncomfortable. But I am starting to think that it might be good to feel just a little bit uncomfortable, unsettled, stretched in worship–well, in the life of faith in general, really. It keeps us fresh; it reminds us that God is not always found in the regular, expected ways . . . that sometimes we encounter God in the strangest places and the most unusual situations.
Real Live Preacher writes an interesting story about encountering God in unexpected ways . . . take a read and see what you think. Worship is just one of the uncomfortable ways God’s Spirit might be asking us to open our hearts a little wider, stretch out a little further, take the Epiphany challenge of letting in the light a little more.
Don’t think that just because I am the preacher I’m not worried about discomfort, too. I fully admit I cannot stomach the thought of most praise songs in worship. Someone once said, though, that we may encounter God in the strangest places and the most unusual situations . . . so, I guess I’ll have to keep prying open my mind and my heart to let in the light, too.
We come to worship together not because we like a good show but, ultimately because we are the family of Christ. So, I am pretty certain we’ll make it through Epiphany. We might even grow a little bit in our worship expression . . . or, at the very least, our level of patience with the pastor.
Looking forward to Epiphany . . . and just wait until you hear about plans for Lent . . . !