The Story We Live In
At ubc, we follow the liturgical calendar in our Sunday gatherings. If you have no idea what that is, don’t worry about it—most of us didn’t until we got here. A helpful way to think about the way we live within this calendar is by thinking of it as a Story that replays every year. We trace the arc of a narrative that begins in longing and ends in joy. As we live through this story, we are invited to think about it from at least two vantage points: 1) as the people in the Story in the biblical narrative; and 2) as people here in the future. Or, put differently, as people who don’t know what happens next in the Story and as people who are wondering what bearing this familiar Story has on our lives now. Carrying these identities is helpful because it encourages us to encounter the story of God and the People of God with fresh eyes . The following are brief overviews of the different parts of the Story, some of which are single events and some of which are seasons.
Our story begins by looking around, seeing how dark the world is, and noting how very badly it needs a Light. We enter into the story of the People of God knowing that God has drawn near in the past, and looking ahead for God to draw near to us in the future. This part of the Story invites us to learn to wait in the midst of uncertainty both by inviting us to enter a reality where Jesus has not yet come, and by reminding us about the waiting we do now for the return of Christ.
On Christmas, we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us; the lighting of a candle in a dark room.
Over the first eight weeks of the new year, we piece together who Jesus is. And in meeting Jesus again, we (re)learn what God would have us know about who God is, and what God would have us know about who we are. It is a season that invites us into a holy curiosity to look again for what we think we’ve already found.
Having become (re)acquainted with who God is and who we are through encountering Jesus, we find that things are not as they should be with us. So once a year we gather for a liturgy where we contemplate our sinfulness and mortality. We do that to remind ourselves that our days on earth are finite—every day is a gift—and we would do well to think about how we live them.
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness in prayer and fasting asking the question of what it meant to be Jesus. In the 40 days preceding Easter, we follow Jesus into the wilderness and ask this question of ourselves as well. It is an opportunity to step back from our journey of faith and take a hard look—What has changed in our lives over the past year? Do we value the same things? Are we the same people? As we ask these questions, we measure their answers against the kind of life that Jesus proclaimed, and ask the Spirit to help us close the gap between who Jesus is and who we are. So, on some level, this season is about readdressing what it means to live life to the fullest. But it is also coming to terms with the brokenness of human existence—even at our best, we are still prone to destruction, and it does not look as though we are going to save ourselves from that anytime soon. This is put on full display at the end of this season with the death of Jesus as we enter the passion story on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
On Easter, we find God speaking a Yes to life and vitality and a No to death and destruction. In the season of Eastertide, we live in the Hope of the Resurrection, learning to look for signs of life and God’s work of re-Creation all around us.
This is the day we remember the coming of the Spirit to the fledgling Church as they were awaiting a way forward in continuing the work of Christ in the world. We step into this moment with them as came to realize that they did not have to blaze this trail alone. The Spirit is present throughout the story of Scripture and associated with particular themes (breath, life, transformation, etc.), but a main theme that rises to the top on this day is destruction. Not destruction in a negative sense, but the kind of destruction that breaks down impediments that might hinder proclaiming the hope of the Risen Christ.
This season finishes out the last stretch of the calendar, and invites us to take up the same question the Spirit was helping the apostles answer: what does it mean to carry on the work of Christ in our particular time and place?
Christ the King Sunday
The finale of the story comes in the form a looking back, looking around, and looking forward, exploring what it means for Christ to be King.
[Note: The development of this page is ongoing, so it might change over time]