Currently, the church where I serve as Pastor is on a journey toward incorporating the Christian Calendar (also known as the Liturgical Calendar) into our worship. In a day when everything fundamental to us as God’s people is being challenged, I believe this pathway of worship to be a great tool to help us stay focused on the main tenants of our faith. Read on and I will explain why.
In Broad Strokes
The Christian Calendar was a primary discipling tool in the early days of the Church. It provided the basis for both the spiritual education and spiritual formation of the people of God. In broad strokes, let me outline how the calendar works.
- Advent/Christmas/Epiphany (late Fall through early Winter): This is the time when we remember and celebrate the arrival and manifestation of the Son of God as the Saviour of the world.
- Lent/Easter (late Winter through early Spring): This is the time when we prepare to contemplate the death of our King, as well as celebrate with absolute hilarity His victory over death and the grave.
- Ascension/Pentecost (Spring and early Summer): We reflect on the triumphant ascension of King Jesus to His Father’s right hand, and rejoice in His sending the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Ordinary Time (Summer and Fall): This is the largest segment of the Church Year. During this season we concentrate on the intentional living of our faith in all the mundane affairs of life.
Like I wrote before, this is painting with broad strokes, but it will give you a basic idea as to the various seasons of the calendar.
How It Helps Us
The Liturgical Calendar helps us in three very specific ways.
- It helps us remember. The saving acts of God in Christ are brought to the forefront of our thinking again and again on an annual basis. It’s amazing how we can become spiritual amnesiacs, quickly forgetting all the grace and mercy the Lord has extended to us through the work of His Son. The Christian Calendar causes us to intentionally call these things to mind on a regular basis.
- It helps us to contemplate. More than just remembering, the calendar brings us to a place where we consider how God’s work in Christ affects our lives. Every year when we think through these things once again, we discover some gem of truth we had not thought of before. That is because we are always looking at these truths from a different place in life than we did the previous year.
- It also helps us celebrate. More than just remembering and contemplating God’s amazing work in Christ, the annual recalling of these events provides us with the opportunity to continually rejoice in God’s great love for us.
The Four Movements
AJ Sherrill, in his excellent article, Teach the Calendar, Follow the Story, reveals how the Liturgical Calendar also helps us see the four great movements of God.
- God with us. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany reminds us that God is definitely not aloof from His creation. He came down and lived among us so we could see Him up close and personal. This wars against the deistic opinion that God exists, but is completely uninvolved in human affairs.
- God for us. The God who has every right to judge us because of our sins is also the God who loved us and sent His Son to save us. This is what Lent and Easter calls to mind every year. This wars against the commonly held picture of an angry God that is ready to smite us at the slightest provocation.
- God in us. God was not content to have a distant relationship with us. Ascension and Pentecost reminds us that God sent His Holy Spirit to abide within us and be with us always, making us holy. This truth wars against the unsanctified life.
- God through us. Ordinary time is when we remember that God works through us to expand His Kingdom in the everyday affairs of life. As AJ Sherrill writes, “Ordinary time is anything but ordinary.” This truth wars against the meaninglessness we often feel in regards to our lives.
I Am in Favor
Let me go on record as saying I am fully in favor of using this ancient tool to help disciple God’s people today. In the Post-modern/Post-Christendom era we live in, we need to make sure our Christian foundations are fitted firmly in place. I believe the Liturgical Calendar will be a great asset in that endeavor as we continue on our journey, year after year, living in the Reign.