Ep. 111 || Seasons and Rhythms: Incorporating Gospel Reminders Into Your Year Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura.

Laura:  Hello.

Emily:  It's Reformation Day, [laughter] Halloween.  

Laura:  [Laughter] Not sure very few people can say it with that excited of a voice, but it is exciting. [Laughter]

Emily:  [Laughter] Yeah, it’s Reformation Day. There's no candy today. [Laughter] I’m just kidding. We're not taking all about Halloween actually, but we are going to be talking about another exciting church calendar thing that can help us remember the gospel. Before we do that, we just want to let you know that on Friday our newsletter comes out.

Our newsletter is a really helpful compilation of a lot of fun resources, everything from podcasts, articles, books we’re enjoying, things for mom and for your kids. There's also some personal kind of get to know you things about the Risen Motherhood team. Sign up for that at the bottom of our www.risenmotherhood.com homepage, or there will be a direct link in the show notes. That's coming out this Friday so make sure you sign up now.

Laura:  Yes, it's a good one, everybody. We get a lot of emails where people say, “Hi, this is my favorite RM resource.”

Emily:  It’s fun. I like reading it. [Laughter]

Laura:  We always learn something new. Okay, as Emily mentioned today, we’re talking about how Em and I have been trying to grow and adding seasonal rhythms into our lives and our family discipleship.

This would be things like reading certain books during the same month every year or the same weeks each year, depending on how long it is. Singing certain songs or working through a specific study or maybe a topic or the same topic each year. Or maybe having a season of particular focus like Advent or Lent. There are some big ones that are already out there that you can think of.

As Emily mentioned, today is Reformation Day. A quick teaser example of what she and I have been doing is that we take the month of October to study church history with our families. Now, this is not an official thing. This isn't part of any church calendar or anybody else's official calendar, but it just seems to fit nicely with Reformation Day being on the 31st. We're just spreading out that month because we both love church history. We enjoy it, and so we're going to have our families study it.

Emily:  That sounds really studious, but what we really mean is we have a kids’ book that we can go through [laughter] at the breakfast table. It's just having those rhythms, throughout the year, so that we can continue to remind ourselves, “Oh yeah, we want to be talking about these things. We want to be thinking about creation, fall, redemption and consummation in our everyday lives.”

Before we get too deep, as we always say when it comes to talking about practical things, there are a ton of ways to live this out. There is no formula for this in the Bible or any mandate. These are simply examples of how family rhythms can point us back to Christ. Also we're really learning and growing in this.

This year, it's church history month in October and next year it's, I don't know, [laughter] but it could be something different next year. [Laughter]

Laura:  She's looking at me for ideas but I have none. Think about them as traditions that might be specific to your family, but it's just like a tradition in a sense that you do it every year to try to remember something special. One place we can look right away to see rhythms are helpful to life is in the creation account.

We see in the very beginning in Genesis 1:14 that God said, “Let there be light in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.” God created life with an order and seasons and rhythms. There is snow in the winter, if you live up in the north. There is sunshine in the summer. Creation exemplifies how God made our lives filled with rhythm and seasons since the very beginning.

Emily:  We also see this in the Old Testament as we read about the rhythms God created for Israel. They had all of these worship celebrations that God commanded them to practice and obey, like the Passover, to remember how God rescued them out of slavery in Egypt. Or the Feast of Booths, to remember their journey in the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan. The Feast of Unleavened Bread to remember their haste in leaving Egypt.

We're going to talk about this more in a bit, so don't worry about all those words. [Laughter] Just remember God established these points throughout their year for them to remember their story, of the way he redeemed them.

Laura:  And another reason is we're just naturally drawn to things that feel bigger than ourselves. We've talked about this before in our show about stories and children, episode 82. Celebrating significant events or just having little traditions throughout the year helps us remember that we are swept up into a bigger story, and we play a part in it, but it's not ultimately about us.

Emily:  And we can be really self-focused. I know if we don't have anything like this on the calendar coming up, it's easy for us to go long seasons where we're just busy with our schedule. We're focused on family events. We forget to see what God is doing in the midst of all of that and how God has already provided and loved us through the sacrifice of Christ.

Laura:  Finally, it’s just to naturally teach our children the way and rhythms of a believer. We had a show about this a couple of weeks ago about how do I disciple my children. We were asking ourselves, “What do I teach my children? How do I disciple them?”

As we've shared before, God's not asking you to think up anything or to reinvent the wheel. He's just asking you to share what you're already learning. By building a pattern into the year, it gives us signposts to look back and think, “What am I supposed to be teaching my children? What do I want to invest in them?” We've got these markers to help keep us focused.

Emily:  Absolutely. If you have fallen off your horse and you’re laying by the side of the road, the horse is coming back around so you can get back on [laughter]. It's a carousel. It's a merry-go-around.

Laura:  A carousel. [Laughter]

Emily:  I think I need that because sometimes, especially in this time of year, Thanksgiving can get really busy. But you know what? Advent is coming and that’s going to be another point where we can hit the restart button and remember to remember the gospel.

Laura:  I think that's a good point you make there. Because I think I used to always run through the year very quickly, and the Christmas season was hasty and quick. It was hard for me to slow down. I didn't do Advent. Until a few years ago, I didn't really take time to celebrate Advent. That has been something that, as Emily said, it's just like, “Hi, this is coming and I can rest and sit and I know what I'm going to focus on during that season.” That is a major reason why I just love it.

Emily:  It is a good reminder. I just want to fill in kind of some gospel gaps here because I think we’ve already talked about the design and why God established good rhythms and traditions that help us—who are really fickle—remember to think about the gospel and see the ways that he has been good and given us a hope and a future.

I think one of the aspects of the fall that we should keep in mind, is just our tendency to go through the motion of traditions and to be really quick. As soon as we put these things on our calendar, they can sometimes become a way to just do it on the outside, but on the inside we're not really honoring God.

In Mark 7:6-7 Jesus talks about people who honor him with their lips, but their heart was far from him. That's vain worship— whenever we are keeping to these external traditions but inside we are far from God.

Laura:  We don't want any of you guys to walk away from the show feeling guilty or bad if you've never thought to do these types of things. Or even superior or prideful if you're a rockstar at these things and feel like you've already got it mastered.

Just to remember, just like the Israelites, it's the same with us. We’re not found righteous by the way we engage in traditions, or the way that we remember God, or the way that we have crafts or singing, or the thoughtfulness that we put throughout the year. It's not about any of those things at all. We're always only found righteous through the work of Christ on the cross.

We're hopeful that incorporating family rhythms like these will be helpful and bring you joy. That they would lighten your heart, as you meditate on God's plan for your life and for all of creation. The best part is that someday we won't need these reminders. We’re going to be with God. We are going to be with Jesus Christ when he returns. We’re never going to forget him; it will be impossible. We can enjoy these traditions today, but also look forward to the day when we're not going to need those traditions because he is with us.

Emily:  We are going to transition now into some more practical ideas. To start off, we wanted to discuss the church calendar a little bit. Because if you're starting from scratch and you're like, “Hi, how do I even begin to add this in?” Well, the historical church has things like Advent or Easter or Lent, and we can definitely build off of those things.

Before we get into that, we also want to say, we know some of you guys may have grown up in a home where you lived by the church calendar or you did see your parents model it. That could have been a good thing or that may have brought a lot of confusing, wrong doctrinal ideas.

You may have found it really legalistic and empty. You may be bringing that into the conversation. You may not even really know what it is and maybe coming in with no knowledge. We know that the church calendar means a lot of different things to different people. Hopefully, for today's conversation, just take it at face value. Take what's helpful and leave the rest, but let's get into exactly what it is. Laura, you want to explain the liturgical year for us?

Laura:  Oh I’m going to try [laughter]. Yeah, the liturgical calendar or the church calendar—you can call it either one—is a calendar that divides the year into seasons to help believers remember the story of the Bible and God's redemptive plan. The dates can vary between churches or different denominations, but the general logic or sequence is usually the same.

You have Advent, the birth of Christ; Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ; Lent, the temptation and death of Christ; Easter, the resurrection of Christ ;and Pentecost, the spirit of Christ. There are other dates in there that you'll recognize, things like Good Friday or Christmas. As a church or at home, you'll typically sing songs together, do readings, prayers, fastings, different activities that helps you remember certain aspects of the gospel.

Now, if you're curious about this and want to learn a lot more, there is a really good handout from the Village Church that gives a great overview and also has things like devotions and activities for you to be able to do during some of the major seasons. We'll link to that in our show notes and you can check it out.

We hope that just gives you an idea, a little piece, of what it is. You can go so much deeper that you could dive into it. Emily and I, at least for our own home purposes, have found there to be different aspects of it that are helpful tools for us to remember God's plan all throughout the year.

Just remember, it's all meaningless if you're just going through motions, and that this is all about the heart. It's easy to be like the Israelites in this. We give this to you, not so that you can just do all of these actions, but so that it’s something that's helpful and brings you joy.

Emily:  One you can jump on right away, that's coming up, is Advent. This is the season that looks at the birth of Christ. It's the four weeks leading up to Christmas. During this season, we’re building anticipation, waiting in hopeful expectation that Jesus comes as a man. Now we are preparing our hearts for the day he's going to return again, to bring us to himself and finish his great redemptive work so we can be with him forever.

We did a whole show on this that you can find on our show notes, but often people do Advent calendars or they light candles. They do certain devotionals during this season. For kids, there are coloring books and chain countdowns and Bible studies and reading plans. There are so many awesome things you can do with your kids.

Instead of recapping all that, we’re just going to point you to our show notes where we have all of those great resources. It's a great time if you're like, “Yeah, I want to go ahead and start adding in some of these gospel rhythms to our year.” There is one coming right up in a few weeks that you can get prepped for.

Laura:  It's a good one. Okay, so another really popular one would be Lent. Again, this probably comes with a lot of mixed emotions for various listeners. This one begins on Ash Wednesday. It starts 40 days of prayer and fasting that represents Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. The last week is known as Holy Week and that celebrates Jesus’ triumph and entry into Jerusalem, the last supper on Maundy Thursday, and his death on the cross, Good Friday.

Lent is typically known for fasting and self denial. It's a symbolic emptying of ourselves of these trivial things so we can be filled with the goodness of the gospel. You hear a lot about people, “I'm giving up pop for Lent. I'm giving up TV. I'm giving up social media.” There are a lot of activities that people give up. It's not about giving up the activity or the food at all. It's really about the heart and saying, “Hi, my hunger needs to be for Jesus, not for the things of this world.” The season of Lent is supposed to prepare our hearts for the resurrection, knowing that it had to come after the crucifixion.

It's a really serious season; a more reflective season. There are some really beautiful things people do during it, like Lenten Wreath or T lights and a cross shape. Symbols typically are rocks or palm trees. There are just like Advent coloring books and Bible Studies and reading plans and all sorts of things that you can get into for it.

Emily:  This culminates with kind of Easter, which is very well known. This celebrates the climax of the story of the Bible. While most of us think of this as just a day, it actually is the beginning of another season; seven weeks to be exact, that goes from the resurrection of Christ to the Ascension of Christ.

Easter Day is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. You don't need to remember that. [Laughter] Just look at your calendar, look up your Google calendar. Basically it's a season marked by victory and hope, remembering that death is not the end of the story for Jesus. If we are with him it is not the end of our story either. On Easter Sunday or even we've started doing things the week leading up to actual Easter –

Laura:  Holy Week is where it's at. If you can't get into all of Lent. [Laughter]

Emily:  All the crafts on the Holy Week. Basically, you can do things like displaying empty tombs, singing certain songs during resurrection, displaying flowers, or Easter lilies on a cross. It just goes on and on. You can do something every day of that week to talk about with your kids, this is the path of Jesus to the cross and then on Sunday you get to have the big, “He is risen. He is risen indeed!” party.

Laura:  [Laughter] So another one is books. Now, we're kind of moving away from the traditional church calendar that you might think of. We just want to talk about books in general. You guys know Emily and I love books.

Emily:  Love books.

Laura:  [Laughter] Books, books, books, give us books. We really enjoy books. One thing that we really like to do is to repeat the reading of a particular book during a certain time every year. By this we mean typically Christian books that have meaning, not some romance novel or something crazy. We're talking about books that have meaning and that have Christian themes we can draw out.

Some that we've mentioned before would be Pilgrim's Progress, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings. This all depends obviously on your child's age and their maturity levels and things like that. Something else, you could watch a movie together every year on the same date every year. Then you talk about that movie or talk about the themes and the way you saw the characters change and things like that.

Books are a big one for Emily and I. They’re easy for us. Every January growing up, my family read Pilgrim's Progress. That was something that I really looked forward to. Think about what books you're enjoying and that you could maybe repeat.

Emily:  Sure. In that, either with books or with other resources, you could also take times of the year to focus on the Great Commission or even other cultures. Maybe once a month you can cook a meal from another culture and you can study that culture for a week, and talk about that country and you can pray for those people.

Maybe your kids are a little older and you are able to watch documentaries or videos about other cultures. Maybe, this is one I am really looking forward to doing with our kids, is reading books about missionaries and taking different times of the year to learn about missionaries and say, “Wow, look what God did, in this part of the world, and through this person.” You could do that every year too.

Laura:  This is just literally us saying, “Hi, pick a month that works for you. Pick a week that works for you.” “Hi, every spring or right when the kids are out of school or whatever,” these are not prescriptive. Make this work with what you have and the time you have available. Another idea is service. Finding a seasonal volunteer opportunity or for your family to go on a missions trip. Maybe it's just to a neighboring city or you guys go overseas; wherever that may be. Maybe every year you guys try to do some acts of service together.

Emily:  Maybe it's just that you study the same things during the same seasons with your family. Again, like we shared earlier in the show, this is church history, like “Oh, during the month of October we're going to go through the ABCs of the Reformation book with our family.” Or, “Every summer we like to talk through Psalm 119 together as a family.” Or, “We have topics that we discuss: creation, redemption, the life of Christ on earth.” Basically a really good place to look for other ideas is to look at what your church is doing. One thing Laura and I are a big proponent of is don't reinvent something from scratch.

Laura:  Don't make it hard.

Emily:  Look at what your kid is bringing home from Sunday school. Look at what they're bringing home from Wednesday night church. Look at what you're doing on Sunday or in your own Bible study and just build upon that. Let that help decide what it is you're going to get into, instead of coming up with a totally different curriculum on your own if that's really hard for you.

Laura:  I am major advocate that VBS can be part of your seasonal calendar.

Emily:  There you go.

Laura:  Or Backyard Kids Club, whatever your church calls it, part of your seasonal calendar. Man, you got a whole week filled. That's awesome. Now we want to give you guys two quick closing thoughts that we have said this throughout the show. We did not give you all of the hows or all of the right materials or all of the perfect book to execute all of this.

We hope and pray that many of you guys have podcasts clubs where we know you discuss our shows or you're talking about these things naturally with your mom friends. We just hope that you will go away and talk with other women about some ideas. We will link some books or resources on social media and in the show notes.

Part of the fun is coming up with your own unique way of doing things within the life that you are already living. If something stinks, get rid of it. Never be afraid to start and then restart and try again.

Emily:  Pull an Emily; just do a new thing every year.

Laura:  Yeah, [laughter] Emily has no consistency in her life.

Emily:  I'll consistently do something related to the gospel, but other than that –

Laura:  She’ll consistently quit [laughter] and then restart.

Emily:  Mommy is a mixed bag of what she’s going to do.

Laura:  [Laughter] Surprise. I just know that there is so much freedom in this. That there is nothing bound and tied. As Emily did jokingly, but truly said, just keep giving them the gospel.

Emily:  Yes. If you have a little one, remember to start small. Even just build them into your own lives. If you have a baby and you're like, “Okay, so should I be doing this certain Advent reading plan with my baby?” Do it for yourself and get that into your own life. Get that rhythm there every year and then you can build upon it. That's something we've done over the years. What I was doing when my kids were all three and under is really different than what I'm going to do this year, having a six year old, two five year olds, and just a couple of younger children.

Laura:  Those years are important and you are learning so much. As Emily said, do it for yourself. If the baby may not be internalizing every word, hopefully you are learning from just the mere act of trying to live that out.

Anyway, check out our show notes. As we said, we'll have more information in there. We'll be talking about this on social media. We are @RisenMotherhood, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then of course www.risenmotherhood.com is where you're going to find our show notes. Yeah. We just hope you'll join us there all week and thanks for joining us here.

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