Those of you who run in church circles will know that this week marks the start of Advent.
And... it also marks the turning from one year to the next in liturgical terms
from year C to year A....
When I started out in ministry (as in, when I was ordained and left to get on with it myself, make my own choices, and indeed my own mistakes without the comfort of a supervisor in the sidelines) I began by resisting the Lectionary all together, I wanted to do it all myself. And, at that time (2005) the Church of Scotland via a report named "Church Without Walls" was encouraging churches to take a year and walk through a gospel. So that is what I did in my first year (18 months!) of parish ministry, in my three congregations I planned all the worship around Mark's Gospel.
If you are strict with yourself, this means every single verse.
You don't miss chunks out, like the lectionary does, and it was a good experience; I hopped in to Christmas and Easter as needed, but the rest of the year we just continued with the story of Jesus as told by Mark.
Then I started on themes.... and I don't remember all of those - Minor Prophets was one, and the Apostle's Creed was another (a great series over a few weeks!)
And then I realised what hard work this was, and how much I already had to do... and how at some point in history a whole gang of older, wiser heads than mine had spent a deal of energy faithfully reading the bible and choosing texts to go together, to follow a pattern and reflect the passage of a year to give us this Common Lectionary, a three year cycle, which if we followed it, would take us through the bible, picking up the major characters and themes in a balanced and careful way. And sure, it doesn't include every single bit; but, it does give us a great insight. So I chose to go with the Lectionary and have been in it ever since.
So this week, as I contemplate Advent, and moving from C back to A again, I wondered about doing something else; something new; or trying a different Lectionary to the RCL that I use.
I am thinking about it... but I don't think I will change!
It's New Year....
and a New Start
but saying farewell to Luke and hello to Matthew is about as new as I'm going to get!
There's an old saying "Don't try to fix what ain't broke" and that goes for all sorts of things in life
GREAT NEW FORMULA!
When I see those phrases on my regular grocery or toiletry shopping it make my heart sink...
and the same goes for church
in a world of constant shifting
there are some things that are just better left to be....
That doesn't mean I think the church shouldn't ever change.... because let's face it, you wouldn't be happy if your doctor was still using the same medicines and methods that were in use 100 years ago - would you?!
Change can be necessary, but change just for the sake of it isn't helpful
The new, newness we need is pretty straightforward:
Finding new ways to tell people about the love of God
To show them that the church is there to love, not to condemn
To show them that the church is as full of sinners as it is saints - and that we don't check which category you are before we let you in
So as this year turns - throw out the old views of closed doors and hard hearts
and welcome in the new: our door is open, are hearts melt, and all who love God - Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Friend - and enemy - all are welcome here