"I got rhythm, I got music," sang Ethel Merman to the music of George Gershwin in the Broadway show, Girl Crazy. Even if we don't know who sang the original, all of us probably know the tune. It catches us. It's got rhythm.
I like rhythm, too. I play a little jazz piano, and it's the rhythm that fascinates me (Gershwin again!). Rhythm is part of our human pulse. It's part of our breathing. There is a rhythm in the very seasons of the earth.
One reason I am a Christian is because of the rhythm Christianity brings to me. And the real rhythm of Christianity occurs next week, during Holy Week of each year. It starts with Palm Sunday, with "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," and with the celebration of a king. We honor life on Palm Sunday with our heads lifted high.
By Good Friday, our heads have sunk low. We honor death itself on that day, the death of Jesus Christ. But, behold, on Easter Sunday, our heads are raised again. We honor not just life on Easter Sunday, but we honor NEW life. God has brought new life out of death.
The rhythm of Christianity is Life to Death to New Life. It is a beat that pulses in the life of Jesus Christ, and it pulses in our own lives, too. At churches around the world, we know it almost daily, as we move from baptisms to weddings to illnesses to funerals and back to thanksgiving, sometimes all in the same day. In your own life, you probably know this rhythm, too. You have known the height of joy and the depth of despair, and you know that they often occur amazingly close to one another.
In Holy Week, the Christian church honors that rhythmic dance. This dance, dipping from Palm Sunday down to Good Friday and rising up to Easter Sunday, is a sacred dance. Live with the church, from life to death to new life again; and you have learned that the grace of God is in all those places. God honors life, God honors death, and God honors new life.
I give thanks for this great pulse that God has given the world. It is this pulse that restores us, time and time again, like red blood flowing through our arteries. And it is everywhere in the natural world around us, from low tide to high tide, from winter to spring, from midnight to dawn.
This pulse is even in the church. At their best, all the ministries and services of the Christian Church honor the pattern, too. They keep the beat; they keep the rhythm; they keep the faith - good faith.
22 March 2007
Sam Candler is Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.