The following thoughts are not theologically rigorous. They are more along the lines of sentiment. But I don't think they're baseless . . .
I think the Reformation was a necessary corrective to a church that had become wacked out and blatantly corrupt. I also think the Reformation was an over-corrective and we need to reclaim a few things.
In our aversion to legalism, we've made everything optional. Reformed churches, curiously, maintain the primacy of the Sabbath even while insisiting there is no sacred-secular divide in life. But aside from that exception, days, feasts, and observances are optional. So, too often, is discipleship to the Master Whom we profess.
The Passion week and Easter weekend that just passed have left me thinking that we could use a few "Holy Days of Obligation" in our evangelical churches.
No Christian holy day is more important than Easter. True, Christmas is essential, because if Jesus hadn't been born, then nothing that followed could have happened. But why was He born? He was born to die. And the Passion Week is our time to reflect more deeply on these truths and mourn our sin more fully and, on Sunday, rejoice more truly.
I was surprised this year at the number of friends I have - friends whose walk with God I respect - who treated Easter weekend as just another weekend. Concerts, dates, dinners, even skipping church(!).
I admit that I hardly spent the entire weekend, myself, in prayer, meditation, and fasting. I was on a plane returning from a business trip when my church held its Maundy Thursday service, I spent Good Friday working, and the omelette I cooked up on Saturday was absolutely incredible. But I did set aside time Friday night to attend a presentation (recitation) of the Gospel of John as a way to focus more intently on the person of Christ. At home and driving, I sought out music throughout the weekend that related to the Passion. And on Sunday morning I went to the Episcopal Cathedral for my high church fix before heading off to my own church to celebrate with my friends (surprisingly, the two services were much more congruent - the liturgy, the creed, even the sermons - than I would have expected from such different churches).
I say all this not to hold myself up as a paradigm. Rather, I'm simply trying to express my belief that this last week (my Catholic friends would say 40 days) is not just another week to be punctuated with better-than-usual music on Sunday. It is the ground of our existence, the sine qua non of our faith, and something deserving of intense focus.
"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. . . . If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15.17,19,20).
Isn't that worthy of some extra attention?