Hard to believe that we are approaching the Second Sunday in Lent, and we have yet to post anything about Lent. Just goes to show how busy it can be, especially in the church. While for many, January and February are slow times, they are not so here.
Right after Christmas, we go into the season of Epiphany, bracketed by two festival Sundays - Baptism of our Lord and Transfiguration. Immediately after the last Sunday in Epiphany, we celebrate Shrove Tuesday, followed by Ash Wednesday and straight into Lent.
On a personal note, all of these things were complicated this year by my coming down with pneumonia and being out of commission for the better part of three weeks. During those three weeks, I was the recipient of much ministry, rather than the provider. It certainly gives one a different perspective.
Now I am back to work (and mostly back to 100% health), and we are working diligently on getting caught up. There are visits to make, blog entries to post, articles to write, planning to do, and many, many preparations for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday to make.
One of the joys (and tribulations) of the first year in a parish is learning the traditions, examining our own theology, and merging the two into something that we can all live with. For those of us who have spent many years in one congregation, it is pretty easy to assume that we all celebrate, for example, Palm Sunday in the same way. In reality, each congregation develops their own traditions - some based on the liturgy, some based on the space, some based on context, some based on regional traits. All of these merge together to become "the way we have always done it."
For a new pastor, these become traditions to be examined, an opportunity to learn about the community being served, and a way of merging ourselves into those traditions. They also become teaching moments, as we discuss the traditions of the historical church, other traditions with which we are familiar with or grew up with, and the theology associated with the tradition. We realize that no - we don't all do things the same way, and we search for balance.
It is in the search for balance that we are reminded that God is here among us, that God was here before any of us arrived on the scene, and that God will be here after we have all died or moved on to other places. It is in this time of examination (which is what Lent is all about, anyway) that we discover the things that God has done, is doing, and promises yet to do. Praise be to God!