2. It Connects Us to the Body of Christ
Many of you began the new calendar year with a period of prayer and fasting. It’s an excellent way to start the year. One of the benefits of celebrating Lent is you’ll be fasting along with millions of Christians all around the world at the same time! We talk all the time about wanting the Church to be in unity, but then dismiss traditions as empty ritual. But what if these sacred traditions can be a way for us to walk in unity together?
The bottom line is: No, you don’t need to care about the Church Calendar. You don’t have to celebrate Lent or participate in Ash Wednesday.
These are not requirements or laws. But then again, you don’t need to have a date night with your wife; you don’t need to have family vacations. But rhythms and routines are ways of reinforcing a desire. It’s because I want to nurture my relationship with my wife that we have date nights; it’s because I want our family to be connected that we take vacations together and have family traditions. In the same way, it’s because I want to nurture my relationship with Christ and because I want to be connected to the Body of Christ that I embrace the “family traditions” of the liturgical year.
So the liturgical year is not a requirement, but neither are they “empty rituals.” They are sacred rhythms, routines that reinforce our desire to follow Christ and become like Him.
They are helpful ways to center our lives on Christ. They create the space for His Spirit to shape us. And they are a powerful reminder that we are not the first to follow Christ, nor are we the only ones attempting to do so. (For more on this, read my post written last year called “Sacred Rhythms: Preparing for Lent, 2011.”) We are joining a great company of saints and sinners—the people of God!—traveling up this mountain together.
And personally, I hope you’ll join in.