From Lent to Eastertide

Well, the forty days of the Lenten season have led to the fifty days of Eastertide.  This, in turn, takes us up to the Ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost (and then to a summer and autumn of “ordinary time”).  This is my second year trying more intentionally to track the movements of the liturgical calendar of the church.  I was soberly encouraged by some thoughts that James K. A. Smith posted to Twitter about the season.  He started with:

The goods of the liturgical calendar are internal to the practice. Its gifts are the fruit of inhabiting its storied timekeeping, not what it makes you “think about” or what themes it offers to “talk about.”

He then continued:

Indeed, talking *about* liturgical time is susceptible to a kind of chatter that indicates we’re not dwelling in it.

I get Smith’s sentiment and see it as the fruit of “a longer obedience” in the direction the liturgical calendar.  And I acknowledged that I’m not there yet.  At the same time, I wonder what such an approach means for churches that are at different places in their understanding of the liturgical calendar.  This morning I greeted a fellow church member with “Happy Easter.”  Her response was something along the lines of “It’s still Easter?”  And rightly so, as our church has tended to “dabble” with the calendar (and often it has done a good job with that, really).  The preacher the made a number of comments about “being an Easter people,” but not necessarily in a way that is rooted in anything beyond the need of the moment.

At the service that often attend on Sunday evenings, the focus throughout Lent (and now, it seems throughout Eastertide) has stayed away from focusing on the Gospel accounts to focus on other still-appropriate topics (in this case, the seven deadly sins and then the Acts 4 passage for this week).  This is all well-and-good for those with a more rooted understanding of the season, I think, particularly if your personal devotionals have been rooted in the Gospels.  But it can also create some slight cognitive dissonance for those still in the process of learning the rhymes and rhythms of the season.

Smith concludes:

You’re indwelling liturgical time when you don’t need to constantly signal it—when it’s the water you swim in without commentary. Then the life of Christ has become your calendar; the tick-tock you take for granted is kingdom time.

So I’m totally not there yet (which is why there’s a post about it, obviously).  At the same time, I wonder about the point of it all, the “then the life of Christ has become your calendar” part.  I think “the life of Christ has become your calendar” particularly as “the life of Christ becomes your life.”  I think that’s probably one thing that “goes without saying” that shouldn’t simply go without saying.  If the Spirit is forming the life of Christ within us (as individuals and as communities), then the “calendar” approach to the life of Christ has to be more than just a Hallmark or civil calendar but “just for Christians.”

 

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