The Christian calendar is growing on me

christian-calendarI’m getting more used to the Christian calendar. I’ve questioned the need for it in the past, but as someone pointed out, we’re going to follow some calendar; why not follow one structured around Christian events? Why is a calendar based on what the Romans did inherently better than one based on what early Christians did? Why is observing holidays promoted by Hallmark somehow holier than following the seasons marked for centuries by believers in Christ?

I’m not willing to name some days as holier than others. That doesn’t fit what I see in the New Testament. I still observe Sunday as the Lord’s day, and every other day as holy. But I’d rather spend this season focused on the need for a Messiah than spend it bowing to whatever days merchants want to create, be it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Shop-Til-You-Drop Saturday.

I’m not lighting candles nor do I even know what the order of such is supposed to be. I have been using the Lectionary for my preaching for over a year now; I’m always in favor of text-based preaching that isn’t subject to the whims of what I perceive to be the most pressing need.

I’m still more aware of the sports seasons than I am the seasons of the Christian calendar. But it’s growing on me.

What do you think? What problems do you see with following the Christian calendar? What advantages do you see?

8 thoughts on “The Christian calendar is growing on me

  1. Andrew Burns

    This is one of those “orthodox” things that I think is quite attractive. When a group of people all agree to use it it, has a knack for creating unity – all thinking about the same thing around the same time. That’s pretty New Testament-y

    You may have said before, sorry if I missed it, but what Lectionary do you use?

  2. Ben Fike

    I find the Christian calendar compelling primarily for the same reasons you mention here: I’m going to keep time in some way, and if my faith in Christ is truly the center of my life, why wouldn’t I want to follow a calendar that emphasizes this? I also think there’s something appropriately subversive about choosing to trust the wisdom of Christian tradition and history that has developed over centuries instead of – as you mention above – the whims of a consumer/productivity-oriented culture that is a relative newcomer to the scene. I’m sort of banking on the fact that people who have dedicated their life to faithfully following Christ throughout history have more to teach me about what it means to be a human being in relationship to God than business executives do.

    The primary objection I hear to following the Christian calendar is that it is rote, repetitious, and ultimately loses its meaning. However, I’ve never actually heard that objection from someone who actually follows the Christian calendar. Personally, I find the repetition actually creates more meaning for me and not less.

    P.S. I am one of those candle lighters for the past three years. At first, it was just something to do. But this year, I have been struck by how meaningful the simple gesture of lighting a candle is in the evenings as my wife and I go through our evening devotions together. Something about reading Isaiah or the Psalms by candle lights helps me connect to the experience of waiting on God in a more visceral/emotional sort of way.

  3. K. Rex Butts

    Without the Christian calendar, our only sense of time (chronos and kairos) is shaped only by a Western secular calendar. The secular calendar only allows us to see what we are doing in any moment, whereas the Christian calendar helps reminds us of what God is doing and when society loses sight of the later then it is little surprise that a holiday like Thanksgiving has become a segue to Black Friday where consumers fight with each other over the best deal.

  4. Andrew Burns

    Thanks – I’ve tried following the Eastern Orthodox version this year. There is something new each day, particularly about the saints. I’ve learned quite a bit from that that I may not have not have any other way.

  5. David Pafford

    I’m personally neutral on the calendar issue. If anything, I try to encourage folks to look at it as an Acts 17 type opportunity.
    I think it’s interesting to note, though wrt the original post that even that Christian calendar is essentially Roman…. the dates for Christmas and Easter being appropriated from Saturnalia and equinox festivals after Constantine.

  6. Paul Smith

    Hi Tim, I’m with you on the calendar thing – perhaps it is something to do with the newness of it all – kind of like a high-church liturgist suddenly experiencing a free-church liberation. Grass always greener on the other side? Hmm. Don’t really know, but I have found the calendar intriguing at the very least.

    One other thought about Lectionary preaching – while the lectionary DOES cover much of Scripture, it does not cover ALL of Scripture. It does force us to preach from genres and passages we would not otherwise delve into, but there are some holes. Also, some contemporary situations within the world, nation or individual congregations demand an immediate response, and making the lectionary reading for that Sunday somehow magically “fit” the circumstance is wretched theology – as I am sure you agree. That having been said, it is truly amazing to note how many times the lectionary reading DOES address a contemporary issue – theologically accurate with no eisegesis needed – and that speaks profoundly about the inspiration of our Scriptures.

    Blessings –


  7. Tim Archer Post author

    I agree about the holes in the lectionary. I think every preacher is going to have gaps in his preaching canon, whatever method is used. I’m terribly weak in the prophets and never preach Proverbs. Sometimes I force myself to preach my least favorite books, partly to share them with others, partly to force myself to study that that I know the least.

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