Quarterly/Annual Rhythms

October 6, 2022

In the past few years, there has been a musical technique that has become quite popular in many of the worship songs sung in churches worldwide. After singing a verse, which leads into a chorus, then a different verse followed by the same refrain; the song transitions into what is known as "the bridge."

The bridge is musically different from both the verse and chorus, yet seems to tie the whole song together. In these popular worship songs, the bridge builds to a crescendo, leading to the high point of the song, before the volume, instruments, and intensity are suddenly pulled back as the congregation reflectively returns to the chorus.

Songwriters keep employing this "crescendo/withdrawal" technique because it seems to work. The method takes singers and listeners on an emotional journey that draws everyone in.

Quarterly/Annual Rhythms • Riverwood Church

But imagine for a moment a song that builds in intensity – lyrically, musically, and emotionally – yet never has the "release." It never pulls back. It just STAYS LOUD AND KEEPS BEING LOUD, NEVER TO RETURN BACK TO A NORMAL VOLUME!!!!! (If you just covered your ears while reading that, I don't blame you...)

Turning Down Life's Volume

While a heavy metal fan or punk rocker might enjoy every song cranked to eleven, most people find they need a musical breather in a song. Yet, many Jesus-followers live day to day with a constant crescendo in their schedules, mind, and emotions, rarely finding the "withdrawal" they need in life to truly find rest in their union with Christ.

Now, I realize you sleep each night (probably not enough, though). You probably take a break by watching the latest episode from a Disney+ or Hulu series. You might even employ one of the daily or weekly rhythms we talked about in this series. But are you intentionally finding ways to pull back and strip things down after an intense "bridge"?

I think this is why so many people have fond memories of Christmas. Sure, they like the trees, decorations, food, and presents. But for some, it is the only time all year they pull back, which creates the fond memories and feelings.

So here are a couple ideas of things you can employ one-to-four times per year to "withdraw," so your heart can find rest and be drawn to the Father once again.

Retreat

Last week, I mentioned the idea of taking a half-day retreat each month. This week, I want to suggest taking a longer retreat once or twice a year. Go away for a full day or preferably two or three days. You can go to a hotel, rent an Airbnb, borrow a friend's home who is gone on vacation, book a cabin at a state park, or head to a place like the Wilderness Fellowship prayer cabins. (You can do a retreat at home, but for most people, going somewhere else is way more refreshing.)

When you head out to your retreat location, take only your Bible, a notebook, a reading book, some comfy clothes, some music (both for worship and for background), some yummy food (if you're not fasting), and maybe a one-person game (like solitaire). Stay away from your phone, TV, tablet, and computer, if possible. Pick a book of the Bible or a theme for the retreat (the book you take with you should fit the "theme" for your day or two away). Then alternate sessions of Bible reading, prayer, journaling, silence, eating, napping, hiking, reading, playing solitaire, and such.

Quarterly/Annual Rhythms • Riverwood Church

For most people, this is really hard the first one or two times they try to do a retreat. Be patient with yourself as you learn this new rhythm. After a time, you will come to cherish these retreats. When I first began doing monthly and annual retreats, I didn't know what to do after two or three hours. Years later, I now find two or three days barely long enough!

But keep in mind, when you "withdraw" on a spiritual retreat, the goal is rest and connection with God. If you come out of it with some sort of personal goal or life direction, great! But the priority is Jesus, not a to-do list.

Holidays

Earlier, I mentioned some people love Christmas, not just for the cultural aspects of the holiday, but because it is the only chance they get all year for a day or two away from school or work.

Let me encourage you to use holidays strategically.

  • Let Christmas be a quieter time of worship.
  • Allow Easter to be a weekend of connection with God and family.
  • Take advantage of our 21 Days of Prayer each January or the 40 days of Lent each winter/spring to find rest and reconnection with God through strategic fasting (from food, social media, electronics, TV, or whatever else keeps demanding your time, mind, and heart.)

The reason Christmas and other holidays are often special is they only come once a year. If Christmas or Lent were every day, you'd get sick of the holiday eventually. So use these special holidays and seasons intentionally as an excuse to rest and connect with your Creator.

Serving

The last idea I'm going to throw out is to do a quarterly or annual service trip. You might...

This rhythm is even more enjoyable when done with others, so take along your family or recruit your Growth Group to serve with you!

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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