2011 marked the birth of a new tradition at The Village. Each year, we will now be celebrating the seasons of Advent, Prayer and Lent.
The hope of these seasons is to awaken our local church to the grand narrative of God’s gospel in the global Church. The Church did not begin in the 21st century or in North Texas. The body of Christ is a historically and geographically diverse people composed of varied tongues, tribes, traditions and times.
The three seasons share many similar rhythms. They strike the common chords of repentance, confession, anticipation, humility and discipline, uniting us with the chorus of the historical and universal Church singing, speaking and chanting confessions, creeds, melodies and liturgies.
The seasons usher us beyond the boundaries of our own time and place and orient us around and within the story of the gospel.
Though each season shares commonalities, each is quite unique. They are all about the gospel yet focus our attention on certain distinct aspects of the gospel. Advent intensifies our attention to the incarnation and return of Christ. Lent fixes our gaze upon His temptation and crucifixion. Prayer clarifies our responsibilities and response to the gospel.
When a Season is not a Season
The seasons represent an emphasis on certain themes for specified periods of time. The point of such focus is that it will overflow and influence the rest of the year and our lives. Like a fine marinade, we steep in the seasons so that the savor of Christ permeates us entirely.
In some sense then, Advent, Lent and Prayer are not seasons at all. We joyfully and solemnly celebrate the incarnation, tribulation, crucifixion, resurrection, exaltation and future return of Christ every day of every week of every month of every year. The gospel is our life, our daily bread and breath.
Yet we set aside specific periods to dwell more deeply on these realities.
Advent is a season to reconsider the incarnation and return of Christ. Lent is a season to recollect the temptation and crucifixion of Christ. But we don’t merely celebrate Christ’s coming in fall or cross in spring. Similarly, we pray always (Luke 18:1) and unceasingly (1 Thess. 5:17) yet desire to set aside particular times to renew our regular passion for prayer.
Celebrating the Seasons
The look and feel of each season at The Village will be diverse. For example, Advent and Prayer will often dictate the direction of the church as a whole. Weekly sermons, stage design, worship songs and Home Groups will be oriented toward communicating these particular seasons.
Such church-wide attention will not be given to the season of Lent. This year, the church will focus its attention on the book of Nehemiah, while the drums of Lent beat softly in the background.
While the degree to which the seasons are publicly celebrated might vary from year to year, they will remain constant. Whether amplified or ambient, the sounds of the seasons will surround and orchestrate us to the common chords of humility, faith and repentance.
We encourage those wishing to enter into the seasons to consider our new Seasons guide, which you can download on The City or pick up on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18, and the other various resources (blog posts, sermons, etc.) and to contemplate how to best pursue the central themes individually and corporately.
The hope and expectation is not that we would feel encumbered but, instead, enthused by the opportunities that the seasons present for the edification of the Church and the exaltation of Christ.