“But remember the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 8:18
While it might sound rather regular, Sundays are the most important thing that we celebrate. They are a regular time for us to gather together and remember who we are and whose we are. It is a time for us to press pause on the business and noise of life, quiet our spirits and listen for God’s voice and pay attention for God’s presence. It is a regular reminder that none of us are alone. They are a time and place for us to reset our life compass towards the things that really matter – the things that are good, beautiful, and true.
There is a Jewish tradition called Tashlich, which means “to cast.” It is a ritual performed on the first day of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) in which the people gather by an ocean or a moving body of water, recite scripture, and cast pieces of bread into the water as a way of symbolically casting off their sins from the previous year. It is a way of starting the year with a clean slate.
At Edgewood Church we have adapted this Jewish tradition into something we call a Lighten-ing Service. It is a beautiful spiritual practice of forgiveness and repentance; a time to prayerfully cast off and release to God the things that weigh us down – things that we need God’s forgiveness for, things that we need to forgive others for, and things that we need to forgive ourselves for.
On an evening around the first of the year we set up tables in a big circle in the field in front of our church and set out sky lanterns. By candlelight, three different times we read scripture (Psalm 51:1-4, 10-16, Psalm 103:8-12, Micah 7:18-20) and have a period of prayerful silence where people can write down their prayers to God on their sky lanterns – things they need to be forgiven for, things they need to forgive others for, and things they need to forgive in themselves.
After the last silence we light the sky lanterns, watch them fill with hot air, and send them up to God as glowing prayers in the night sky.
It is called a Lighten-ing service because it is a way to begin a new year a little lighter in our souls.
Lent is a special season in the Christian year that begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. Lent is a time of year where we prepare ourselves for the joy of Easter by clearing out space in our lives and our hearts for God to work. It is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is a space to grieve for what we should have done, but didn’t do. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not changed.
Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that holds us back from being completely open to God. Lent is an invitation to die to self…so that we can begin really living. (This description of Lent was adapted from the writings of Sister Joan Chittister, OSB)
Celebrated on the Thursday before Easter, this ritual meal reminds us of how God has rescued us in the past, how God has and is rescuing us through Jesus, and of the hope and promise we have of the Dream of God becoming completely true.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday and is the second most holy day of the Christian year. It is the day we pause and remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. We transform our worship space into a place of prayer and meditation open for people to come and go from 7am to 7pm.
At 6:30 pm all candles will be blown out and everyone present is invited to observe a silent vigil and exit in silence in remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The church remains shrouded in darkness until Easter Sunday. From Good Friday to Easter morning we are invited to leave all the electric lights off in our homes and abstain from using electronic forms of entertainment. This is how we enter into the darkness of a world without Jesus.
This is the holiest day of the Christian year. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and God’s coming to rescue broken people living in a broken world. We celebrate the light and life that has come, the hope that is here, the belief that all things will end in joy and gladness, and that sin and death do not get the last word in our lives.
This is celebrated in the Fall during the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Sukkot Camping is when we pitch tents, light a fire, cook hotdogs and smores and retell both ancient and recent stories of how we have experienced God’s faithfulness during the hard times – all on the front lawn of the church. It is a beautiful tradition of hope, joy, and gratitude.
This is an original American holiday, one that we have adapted to our Christian year. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving we invite our friends and neighbors to share with us in a big potluck lunch following the service. It is a time where we recall the things for which we are thankful to God. It is a time when we live into Jesus’ vision of the Great Banquet – a time when all people from every nation, ethnic group, and background share a feast together of love and joy.
Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The season of Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is the time of year that we celebrate God coming among us in Jesus Christ and that God’s coming again soon to bring an end to evil, injustice, and sorrow in our world. It is a season of great hope, joy, and anticipation.
Christmas Eve is a time in which we remember how much God loves us. We celebrate Christmas Eve by getting together, singing Christmas carols, drinking cider and hot chocolate, eating cookies, and writing notes of God’s love to people we have had a hard time loving. Sometimes these are people in our own families who have hurt us, sometimes they are people we have worked with or gone to school with. Sometimes these are people or organizations we have only heard about on the news but have had a hard time loving just the same. Christmas Eve is a time for us to live into the goodness of God and the hope that God really does love all of us.
Each Christmas Day, we open our doors for a Christmas feast in which we welcome people from our neighborhood who would otherwise be alone or hungry on this special day – there are so many reasons why people are alone on Christmas. This is a day in which we remember that God loves us, delights in us, and will do anything for our good. This meal is made possible by the generous help of our neighbors who help by dropping off covered dishes, beverages, paper plates/cups, or even sticking around to help serve and clean up!