The church new year launched two days ago as we entered the season of Advent. Many may ask why the church calendar? It sounds old, boring, and out-dated at best, or created to send us to our spiritual graves at worst.
At least those would have been my thoughts some years ago. But over the past decade I have been drawn to what we call the liturgical calendar.
What is it?
Simply stated, it’s a rhythm set in place to teach us the story of Christ throughout the year.
We all have rhythms—regular practices we adapt to walk through life. They are familial, cultural, national, and more. We all have calendars as well—the regular (Gregorian) calendar, academic calendar, and fiscal calendar. And each of these calendars also has special (holi-) days—Fall and Spring Breaks, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, etc.
We aren’t afraid to encounter these calendars, holidays, and rhythms? But why the disdain for the church’s rhythm?
I think it may be due to connecting its observance to possible strong-armed, legalistic practices. Evangelicals think of the Catholic Church, especially in the medieval ages. Or we link the liturgical calendar to churches that are primarily empty. Again, evangelicals regularly envision the Catholic Church.
Hence, we imagine the church calendar is some outdated measure meant to send us to our spiritual graves. It’s “dead tradition.” But we are free and not religious!
While it could be dead tradition, it doesn’t have to be.
There are millions of poor marriages out there, but that doesn’t mean marriage is bad. Of course, not.
I might offer there are more problems with American cultural calendar days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (we spent $20 billion for these two days in 2020, a year of supposed recession) than with the church calendar. Those two contemporary-famed days have been given to shape our affections after the American dream. But there is another story and rhythm that has been given to shape our affections after the way of Christ.
That is the church calendar.
Instead of saying more, I point you to a short video below. I think it does a fantastic job in explaining the meaning behind the gift that we have in this annual story-telling rhythm.