Baptists are not very liturgical. Many Baptists reading the previous sentence have no idea what I just said, so let me explain. (Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and most Methodist readers may want to skip over the next paragraph).
“Liturgical” refers to a style of worship rich in symbols and words that are often repeated. Some examples are the use of candles, responsive readings, repeating a creed, different colors used for different seasons of the church year such as Epiphany and Lent, processions, as well as traditional rites associated with baptism and communion.
All churches have at least some liturgy, but Baptists have very few. I heard about an unbeliever who told a Baptist, “I don’t believe in organized religion.” The Baptist replied, “I don’t either. I’m a Baptist.”
Despite being disorganized and “liturgically challenged,” some of us Baptists are becoming more open to new forms of worship, such as processionals and banners. Another liturgy popular at the church where I pastor is Advent. “Advent” means “coming,” and it marks the four Sundays before Christmas, as we anticipate celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Each Sunday, we light a candle on an Advent wreath, and we read scripture about part of the Christmas story. Then at our Christmas Eve Candlelight Lord’s Supper Service, we light the Christ candle in the middle of the wreath, to celebrate the coming of Jesus.
When asked to explain what the four candles of an Advent wreath represent, a seven-year-old began, “There’s love, joy, peace, and...” His 6-year-old sister piped up, “I know!” She then finished her brother’s sentence by proclaiming, “Peace and quiet!” Well, that might not be quite right, but it is true that the Advent season is a time of the year to quietly reflect on the amazing event that happened when God became a man to save us from our sin. All Christians need that in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Even Baptists.
Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. For more “Holy Humor,” go to the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.