A great hero of mine once said, 'it isn't addiction or sin that will make most of us ineffective in changing the world. It is routine.' Whilst I think that routine is important for much of life I think he is onto something. Perhaps running to the same routine for a long time, whilst providing stability to life, does in some ways create a predictability to every day. Routine, if given control of life can narrow our vision for what could happen in any given day.
My education suggested to me that routine was the wisest way to live. If planned everything well in advance I could essentially cover all the bases and perhaps even avoid certain outcomes from ever happening. When it comes to education that is a sensible approach. When it comes to family life, again there is something sensible in that. It is good to know where the people you love or live with are at any given time should some emergency arrive. However, when it comes to church communities I think it is dangerous to allow our life to fall into a routine.
If you were to ask me today what sets the rhythm of our church or 'what is the church's heartbeat?' I would have to say that our church at Hay Hill runs to a rhythm set by Sunday mornings. We gather, we go back to our lives, we gather again, (repeat as appropriate). In our church Sunday mornings are the punctuation of our community, they are the breathing in moments as we start our week.
I do wonder sometimes, if rather than being a place to recharge together for a week of living out our faith, if our services becoming a little routine. Do we know what is going to happen already? Some songs, children leave, a talk, a prayer, some more coffee. There is safety in the familiarity of this but what are our expectations. Could something surprising happen? Do we expect our lives to change in anyway when we gather? Perhaps some of us do, perhaps some of us don't.
There is a verse in Ephesians 5:15, that exhorts us to walk wisely. I have thought often about what it might mean in context of routine. Is it wise to allow ourselves to expect the same thing every week, or can we consciously choose to break free from expectation and seek something else. As we gather together may we foster an expectation that God is with us and ready to surprise us with his grace and generosity. May our routine be littered with out of the ordinary moments that point us towards Him.