When I first begin to discover something new, I get excited. I try to learn as much as I can, often as quickly as I can, sometimes staying up late into the night reading all the books I could find at the library. This is how I was when I began to celebrate the church year.
At first, I was all alone in this. I went to a small college in the midst of the Midwest cornfields and I didn’t know anyone who cared about liturgy, other than my (recently graduated roommate) who had given me a copy of Living the Christian Year and started the whole thing.
The more excited I get about something, the more I talk about it. When I read Quiet, just a month or two ago, I found myself talking about it to everyone I encountered. On the phone with someone I was talking to for work, with my hairstylist, on an airplane, in an elevator. (Yes, I do see the irony that a book which made me realize how introverted I was would also prompt me to start conversations about it with strangers). I have always been this way. I cannot keep my excitement to myself.
The more I talked about liturgy, at a school which was a little frightened of anything too scripted, too stiff, the more people I found who were interested in the same things.
This was how I ended up at a little church which would become a second home, at 7am on Ash Wednesday, with a girl from my floor. This was how I started doing liturgy in community.
One detail had stuck in my mind as I read Bobby Gross’ truly wonderful book:
“In these earliest centuries, the church observed Easter by increasing the use of “alleluias” in worship and correspondingly suspending all fasting and the practice of kneeling in prayer.”
I was away from that church over Easter, having flown home to spend time with my family. When I returned, I was eager to practice this, loving the message behind remaining standing during confession, as I did.
The time came when I would normally kneel, and most everyone else did. Only I and the members of our congregation who could not kneel remained standing. A few raised their eyebrows. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways.
I stood, confident in the sacrifice and triumph of Easter, which permeates every moment of the year, even as I wait in Advent, wonder in Epiphany, fast in Lent. I kneel at other times of the year, most of the time, even so, I always know that I have the foundation on which to stand. Alleluia.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
(I am linking up with SheLoves magazine today, as our community talks about standing, you can go read the other posts here).