I could definitely tell you how many ceiling tiles were in the ceiling of Lakeview Baptist Church, my childhood church home, along with how many window panes caught the sun streaming in through the windows every Sunday morning. As a child, I diligently filled in every “O” on the bulletin and drew masterpieces on the offering envelopes stuffed in the pew rack alongside the miniature pencils. The choir sang beautifully of old rugged crosses, but I could not recount one word the pastor spoke. It floated over my head and my understanding Sunday after Sunday. Even though I was present, I was sitting (and sometimes laying) on the periphery of a worship time meant for adults.
Words are not simply sounds – words have real power. God spoke the world into being by the power of his word (Hebrews 11:3), and we are in His image in part because of the power we have with words. Words do more than just convey information. The power of our words can actually destroy a person’s spirit, or even stir up hatred and violence. Of all the creatures on this planet only man has the ability to communicate through the spoken word. This is a powerful and unique gift that God has given us.
I grew up in a Methodist church, but did not experience the practice of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent until several years ago. I did not understand the value of observing these liturgical seasons in the life of the church. Over time, I began to realize that the seasons of the church year weave a pattern that cause us to take time to reflect and remember. They give us an opportunity to look at passages in the Scripture that we may otherwise pass over. They offer us a window into the spiritual practices from Biblical times.