Advent: What I'm Learning from Anglicans and Catholics.
As my advent journey continues I am in awe of what I've been missing the past few years. Advent is of course the only part of the church calendar that most evangelicals even seem to know about (other than the mass exodus from facebook every year that vaguely reference lent). We want to be 'spirit lead' which according to some conservative Beachy Mennonite preachers (For those unfamiliar with Mennonite Culture, think Amish and your close) means not preparing a sermon for Sunday morning. As a result we are suspicious of anything repetitious (read: that happens more than once every three months in a service) or too prepared and put together. I do believe God works within us, that He guides us in all sorts of ways, but the more I've exposed myself to the thoughtfulness of incorporating the reading of God's word, and even a certain order of service with written prayers (high church traditions call this liturgy), the more I realize that my typical preparedness to help God's people become receptive to what He wants to do in their lives and in the world, is scatterbrained at best.
This weekend I'm leading worship at my church and incorporating scripture readings and prayers from *gasp!* a catholic lectionary. I did omit verses from the apocrypha, but honestly thought of including them as a reflective (non-scripture) text just because they were powerful and though not "scripture" still very true things.
I realize that talking about liturgy and the church calendar while talking about Advent is a bit like a writer writing about being a writer and writing, but bear with me.
The theme for this week of lent is the appearance and mission of John the baptist, the one who wore burlap and ate bugs (some think locust was a type of nut) and honey and called people to repentance.
In my opinion, John himself was a part of God's liturgy, God's order of service, a eucharist culminating of course in Jesus. The Hebrew people (as many Jews today) followed a calendar celebrating things like the Festival of Tents, Passover, and a host of other items I don't know much about like Rosh Hoshana and Chaka Kahn. Most of these were parties that God Himself instituted as reminders both of what He has done and what He will do. Advent is that same double edged sword, reminding us that He has come and that He will come again.
Speaking of coming again I'm going to make this topic a twofer. Partially because I can't quite tidy it up without another 400 words (brevity is not my gift), partially because I want to see how the service goes this weekend, but mostly because I want to know if you've had any interaction with the church calendar or any form of liturgy, liturgical service, Mass, etc. What did you like? What did you object to? Do man made repetitions have any place in our worship of God?