Summary: Today's worship experience is meant to recapture the seasonal rhythms that will lead us towards fall, harvest, celebration, and thanksgiving.
On Rhythms and Seasons
Thanksgiving, Oct 10, 2010
• Opening hymn – In Thanksgiving Let us Praise Him #557
• Greeting time
• Welcome/ announcements/ intro – Steve
- family service – activity packs available
- CLM on Wednesday
- Worship night – Nov. 6; STEP Bolivia fundraiser Nov. 13
This past week I’ve been reflecting on how our experiences of life no longer really follow the natural rhythms of our world – in some ways they are the opposite. That is not a complaint, more of an observation, and one upon which some reflection may prove insightful. It certainly helps us understand the context and thus meaning of numerous passages of Scripture, and this leads us into ways to live.
What do I mean? Well in our culture, fall tends to be a time of beginning, which follows our summer which tends (or intends!) to be a season of rest and holiday and relaxation. This is not the pattern of nature, not the way God created our world, where fall is a time of harvest, of culmination and not of new beginning, which follows on the heels of the hard work of spring and summer. After the fall comes winter, which is when our natural world retreats and rests.
Those of you who come from a rural background understand these rhythms better than us city folk, trained and experienced in a world with a different rhythm and within a culture that doesn’t really practice even the cycles of beginning, working/waiting, harvesting, and then resting. We live in a culture promising and demanding constant progress, ever forward, onward and upward, higher and to the right. But such is not the natural rhythm of life.
And so the “Thanksgiving Season” seems sometimes a little out of place to us. It is this festival we all enjoy, and it awakens us to the important discipline of reflecting on our blessings and being grateful for all that we have, and we know it is a harvest festival, but that is all a little removed from our daily experience of life in a world where we eat fresh fruit and berries all year long, where vegetables are canned by someone else at harvest time and available whenever we want at the grocery store, and where fall is not a time where all the hard work of the past year shows itself in a tangible result.
Again, this is not a complaint so much as a depiction of reality.
So in the light of that, Pastor Sue and I have devised a worship experience for this morning attempting to recapture the seasonal rhythms, reflect on various passages of Scripture that relate, and move through what I believe are the God-breathed rhythms of life. They will lead us towards fall, harvest, celebration, and thanksgiving. It will be a different “flow” than normal, but we pray it will be an experience that leads us all in the major point of this morning: to give thanks to God our Father for all that He is, and all He provides.
Opening Prayer: Steve
• Winter (resting/dying)
John 12: 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
We begin with the season of winter. Most of us don’t really like winter, it is cold, dark, difficult to get around, and dreary. Why would God design our world with this season? Why can’t it be spring and summer and fall and then spring again, why do we have to suffer through long dark nights and -38 degree temperatures?
Why did God create this season of no activity, of dormancy, of hibernation? Why can’t life always be growing – steadily, predictably, consistently?
I think it is because God knows of the balance between work and rest, between productivity and regeneration, between pouring out and drinking in. Continued, steady, predictable, consistent growth is the religion of capitalism, not Christianity. God created a rhythm, which (according to John 12) begins in death, and that death produces many new “kernels”.
There is a spiritual truth to winter. We need periods of rest, of “Sabbath”, which God created and intended for us to experience in a weekly cycle and in a more broad sense in a seasonal cycle. We need times when we can stop our constant striving and working and simply be in the presence of God, experiencing Him, worshiping Him, loving and being loved by Him, we need that in a weekly cycle. If you and I don’t take those regular break times we lose our creativity, our joy, our perspective – we end up resembling our culture instead of our Lord who calls us away from our regular “work” and into a space created to once again fix our eyes on Jesus so that as we go back into our work we do so recognizing that we are ambassadors, children of the King, with a way of living in hope and power that meets the deepest needs of humanity.