Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fellowship Of The (Advent) Ring

We worshipped with friends at Concordia this morning - and felt very much at home. Jo and I both love the season of Advent, which begins today. "At home" Jo would bring out one or two decorative pieces on each of the four Sundays in Advent, so that there was an accumulative building-up to our preparations for Christmas. It is important to build family traditions like that: a glue that binds us together. This year we don't have any of those things: they are all in storage.

Concordia is a Lutheran church. Many of the congregation are of Eastern European descent (you can see that DNA in their faces!). And they have chosen to do certain things - such as observe the seasons of the liturgical year - because they are Lutheran; while choosing to be very relaxed in the way in which they observe their traditions. We think that is very wise - a path that avoids both empty repitition of a way of life now past, and the (common) over-reaction of throwing out the heritage that has formed us (an action, once done, that leaves us in a very real sense form-less).

While I want to celebrate diversity, I think that churches that don't walk through the historic church year - starting at Advent with the preparation for recalling Christ's coming, and looking to his coming again; through the stages of his earthly life and the early church, marked by seasons and weeks and days; and taking in the history of the whole Church since then - really miss out. The action of a community walking together through the year, on a pilgrimage, a cycle of remembrance and hope, is profound; through it, God changes us in ways we can't begin to understand.

And, this idea of shaing a common journey is also key to mission in a Postmodern context - to the Fellowship Of The Ring generation; the Children Lost in the Forest; who see life more as a journey of discovery, than as a fortress to defend against the odds; and who are open to other pilgrims in this world...

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