Giving up for good (but not forever)
If you are a member of Chapel Hill, you need to read the following. It describes part of a vision for Christian discipleship at Chapel Hill.
Once upon a time there was something called the church calendar, which divided the year into two main parts: six months around the life of Jesus (anchored by Christmas and Easter), followed by six months of ‘ordinary time’.
The calendar affirmed two important things:
the centrality of Jesus and His church to a life of true Christian discipleship. During this time, Christians practiced times of feasting and celebration, and times of fasting and prayer, all focused around the life of Jesus.
the goodness of ordinary life; of planting and harvesting, of spring cleaning and home maintenance; of holidays in the sun.
Given the healthy rhythm the calendar worked to, it’s not surprising that northern hemisphere churches are re-discovering and introducing it again...but it’s not that easy for us, for lots of reasons.
For instance, agricultural rhythms do not shape our lives these days. Our lives are almost seasonless and we are trying to be as remorseless as the modern machines we use; we simply keep going, hot or cold, light or dark, early or late. No wonder we burn out like light-bulbs. Also, being in the southern hemisphere, our seasons clash with the usual calendar: Christmas time competes with our desperation for a summer break.
All this to say we need to find a way to restore/refresh our Christ-fashioned souls with a Christ-centered life.This life will include healthy engagement with church, and a healthy rhythm of work and rest.
What we need is a church calendar that works in our age, in our society, at our place and I’ve been working on one for a wee while now.
For instance, we have our church camp in winter these days. Why? Well, most of us are not taking a holiday (or suffering post-holiday whiplash), families aren't reeling from the time/financial pressures of getting back to school, and we all need to fend off the winter blues with the warmth of Christian community.
But our calendar (in my head) starts with Lent - the five-week, 40-day journey leading up to Easter. Lent is a preparation practice - it gets us ready for Easter. Often people give something up because Jesus gave up his life at the cross, such as chocolate, coffee, TV, food (for instance fasting one day a week for each five weeks). Often a new activity is put in its place. Instead of eating a meal, you can read scripture. Instead of watching TV you can have dates with loved ones, see friends, enjoy the mental space the peace and quiet offers. Instead of spending money at your favourite cafe, you can invest it in a good cause.
I urge you to consider engaging in Lent this year. What might you give up? What new thing might you do? You can easily engage children in this. I have found a great resource of ideas. Check our Kids section under sub-heading ‘Discipleship at home’.