At last it’s all over. We can put the razzle dazzle of Christmas behind us and settle back into the comfortable rhythm of the church year. There is no pressure to impress at the Baptism of Christ. There’ll be no once-a-year worshippers complaining about the candles at Candlemas. We can be ourselves once more.
The seasons and festivals of the church year are friends to me because they teach Christianity in a very gentle way. Christmas teaches the humanity of Christ, Epiphany his divinity. From 25th December to 2nd February the church year calls us all to think about who Jesus was. Similarly, the waiting and rejoicing of Advent, and the drive towards simplicity and penitence at Lent remind us of how we should behave all year round.
The arrangement of the church year helps us to live through these ideas day by day. My best friend Fr Koala calls it “holistic learning.” The passage of time pulls these teachings into our blood and our bones.
The only downside with the church year is that it’s very easy not to notice that it’s there. All you have to do is skip a lot of church services, snooze through a few sermons, and pay no attention to the hymn choices or the formal prayers. The apparatus for teaching the church year is the very same thing that some people say is stuffy or boring or old fashioned about traditional worship.
For that reason we need to find extra ways to call people to notice the church year. Then they will understand and better appreciate the more traditional aspects of church services.
This year I’m blogging about the church year and talking about it on Twitter. One of my human priest friends is going to put a pie chart calendar up on the wall of his church. Another human friend wants the churchyard noticeboards to make as big a show of the other seasons as they usually do of Christmas.
If you have ideas I’d love to hear them!