One of the impoverishments of much of the free church and evangelicalism is its neglect of the church year. Last week the universal church started Lent, but if you went to your typical evangelical church, you wouldn’t know about it. Every year I miss out on Lent and tell myself I’m going to try to remember it next year. But if your community doesn’t remember it, you’re not going to remember it.
While the universal church follows a sacred calendar that takes them through the life of Christ and the life of the church and Israel, the free church cuts itself free from the pattern and goes where individual pastors take their congregation. The church year puts a congregation in touch with the wider church, both the historical church and the current worldwide church. It gives congregations a sense of going somewhere, of moving together through seasons. It makes sure we cover all the bases of the Christian story.
We were using the lectionary readings, structured around the church year, in our old house church and as much as I sometimes felt bound and restricted by them, a lot of the time they gave me structure and life.
I think there might be a small shift among evangelicals toward the church year; there are emerging church elements who embrace it. But only a small shift.
What am I going to do? I think I’m going to start using the lectionary readings for my daily Bible readings. And use what small influence I have on the evangelical world by writing this post. Pastors: why not try it? Please?
The revised common lectionary is found here: http://divinity.library.vanderbilt.edu/lectionary/ for those like me who were brought up knowing nothing about it.