Reflections

In the Christian calendar of worship (the liturgical year), this coming Christ the King Sunday is like the end of December.December 31 is the end of the calendar year, and Christ the King Sunday marks the end of the liturgical year. In Christian worship, the first Sunday of Advent--December 1 this year--is the beginning of a new worship year.

Liturgical cycles may or may not be of interest to you. However, even if you don't make resolutions in the New Year, it is hard to avoid a deeper-than-usual reflectiveness when one year ends, and another begins. The ending of a worship year also calls out to us for some thoughtful reflection.

What has happened to you/me/us as we have worshiped together this year? Is there anything we see more clearly? Anything new? As we have listened to many texts of Scripture, sung and prayed together, listened to mission minutes, heard first hand accounts from RBC friends which sometimes revealed a passion and calling that reached out and touched us...was there any shifting of our own perspective of faith, any challenge to our assumptions? Was there any Word of God that caused some inner trembling, or created deep hope and comfort?

Do we see the Way of Jesus any differently? Have his words found an opening in us, a response? Is his presence in our lives and souls more vivid? Are there new questions to explore? Did our hearts ever burn within us as we heard and experienced so many Jesus-stories, both stories about him and the parables he told?

Does it seem that our congregation has been led by the Spirit? Are we more at home with Spirit language, more aware of the Spirit moving in our midst?

It never stops. Jesus-truth comes from anywhere and everywhere, but in a very steady and unique way, in my opinion, in and through our worship. This morning, a book in my study caught my eye, some reflections by Carl Jung. Here is one sentence from a longer quote:

The real existence of an enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one's conscience.

Part of what it means to me to be a Jesus-follower is that Carl Jung's words of psychological wisdom point to Jesus, not the other way around. Jesus of Nazareth, who has been speaking to us all year through our worship, is the frame of reference. When I read Jung's words, I wondered immediately:

When Jesus said to love our enemies, was he also telling us to love ourselves? Is love of enemies, which sounds so extremely difficult, a path toward healing that takes us beyond the immediate relief of a shallowly relieved conscience? If enough of us experience that, is it possible for congregations, communities, and even nations to be healed? Could there be an end to hatred, prejudice and discrimination if enough of us loved ourselves as we love our enemies?

I don't know. Maybe we'll find out in the new worship year.

-Steve