Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Back in the Saddle

This post is also our parish newsletter article this week. You can read the rest of the newsletter here.

This morning, when I opened my web browser and navigated to the website I use for the scripture readings and prayers of the Daily Office, I noticed something. The banner near the top of the page that identifies the liturgical season and the day’s commemoration was green. The last time the church was green was back in November before we changed the hangings to white for the Last Sunday after Pentecost and Thanksgiving Day and then to purple for the four weeks of Advent. In recent weeks, we have been white for Christmas, and this Sunday we will be white again for the first Sunday after the Epiphany, but today—and for most of the days in the next two months—we are green.

As a child, I was taught that green is the color of growth and that the “ordinary time,” which we observe during the weeks between Epiphany and Lent and between Pentecost and Advent, is an opportunity for the church and its members to grow. The other seasons come with a specific focus—Advent and Lent are for preparation while Easter and Christmas are for celebration—but ordinary time is for doing what Christians do most of the time. This is the time for getting back to the basics. It is when we return to a regular pattern of weekly bible studies and Sunday school.

Around here, things are beginning to get busy again. Sunday school for all ages resumes this week and, along with it, delicious cooked breakfasts. Most of our bible studies are up and running again. The Yogettes, who never took much of a break, continue with their quiet, meditative practice. It is no accident that I have been walking around the office humming “Back in the saddle again…” Now that the holiday sprint is over, we can all settle back into our formative routines.

Since we are green again, I found it appropriate that two ofthe readings for this morning tell of the manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness. First, in Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses says to the people, “[The Lord] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Moses reminds them (and us) that God himself is what sustains them and that only by remaining attentive to that relationship will they flourish.

Likewise, in John 6, Jesus says to the crowd, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The soul hungers for Christ just as the body hungers for bread, and we can only be satisfied and forever sustained if we partake of that which God has given us.

This is a time of growth. It is a time to take on the spiritual disciplines that sustain us and deepen our faith. God is feeding us with himself—his word and his incarnate presence. We nourish our relationship with him as we encounter him in study and worship. As we enter this period of ordinary time, search for the routines that are extraordinary. Come to church every Sunday. Read the bible every day. Decide to make a weekly bible study or reunion group a part of your own spiritual formation. Search for the food that feeds the soul, and feast on God himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment