Fourth Sunday in Lent
Week of: March 31, 2019
Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12
While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the Passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho.
(Joshua 5:10, NRSV)
The people of Israel waited a long time to reach the Promised Land. Even though they wandered in the wilderness for decades, as they entered Gilgal they still kept the Passover. There’s wisdom in ritual. When they arrived in the Promised Land, Israel could have easily dismissed God, but they didn't. Instead, they turned to ritual in the midst of unfamiliar territory.
Liturgy, at its best, grounds us when the church journeys into unfamiliar territory. People come to worship and find comfort in ritual when many other things in their lives change. It's worth noting, though, that Israel ate from the fruit of the land right after Passover – they could embrace change because they remained grounded in their relationship with God. The people's eating patterns changed because manna didn't remain a staple in their diet.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the decades-long debate about worship style. God and change are two constants in our lives. Our worship practices may have variation, but the God whom we worship remains the same. Change will inevitably happen — God does, time and again, do a new thing. Regardless of style, God will still show up when we gather to worship in spirit and in truth. Perhaps we can utilize liturgy AND the new thing God is doing simultaneously during our Lenten journey, resulting in a deeper experience of God.
God, we thank you for what has been, what is, and what will be. Your transforming love will not leave us the same, so guide us to ground our lives and our ministries in you. Amen.
First United Methodist Church
Development Coordinator, The Fellowship
Photo: A path alongside Lake Junaluska as seen during Music & Worship Arts Week 2018. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig.)