Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.
In reading this, you may find me being uncomfortably honest. I’m writing for myself, in the hope that it may be useful to others who have a similar experience. I’m also trying to ‘speak out loud’ so that I can gain an objective reality of an idea that tends to dance at the edge of my mind’s eye.
Christmas poses no problem for me. I know what we’re celebrating, and I can choose to focus on any of the classic approaches; the prophecies, the characters and attitudes of Mary, Joseph and the others. The figure of the Messiah, and how some people were expecting a political Savior rather than a suffering servant.
Advent can be tricky, because sometimes I want to move ahead too soon, and sometimes I just want to cry out against the commerciality and materialism. These are easy targets and efficient distractions; but it’s relatively simple to get back to the first and second comings of Christ and trying not to sing ‘Noel’ too soon.
Easter’s easy, too. It’s resurrection, empty tombs and chocolate eggs. I have the idea that if I focus on darkness the week before, the brightness of Easter is greater and my joy is somehow heightened; I can do that.
But Lent? You will tell me that it’s the ancient period when those to be baptized on Easter were fasting and preparing. You might encourage me to give something up, avoid saying Hallelujah and attend a weekly Bible Study. Check, check and… check. And where has it got me? There’s two weeks to go before Palm Sunday and frankly, I don’t feel much different than I do on any of the interminable Ordinary weeks between Pentecost and Thanksgiving.
That’s the challenge; can I try a little harder, ‘dig in’ a little more to the Liturgical Calendar and get more devotional focus? Can I draw closer to God, gain a little more discipline and invite the power of the Spirit to sanctify this moment?
I’m realizing that, if this dimension of the Liturgical Year is going to work for me at all, I have to start sooner and go deeper at every opportunity. I need to constantly re-commit and re-focus; I need to renew my interior Covenant more frequently..
These days Holy Week, for me, is a little like the 24/7 news coverage of any disaster. Yes, I’ll be meditating on the disciple’s last meal together on Thursday, following the trial on Friday; I’ll experience the darkness and stillness. But if I’m not careful, in my mind (by Saturday morning at the latest) I’ll be running towards the tomb.
I’m going to work hard on making Lent a little longer this year.