- Written by Alison Woodward Alison Woodward
- Created: 25 October 2011 25 October 2011
I have been reading “A Year in the New Testament: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year”, edited by Douglas Bauman, as a resource for studying the scriptures with my children. Here is an excerpt from the introduction discussing the Church calendar that I found interesting, especially as we are about to start the Church year over again:
The life of the church is centered around the Church’s worship. As Christians gather for worship, they do so with a strong sense of time and history.
Humans have always been time conscious. Light and darkness regulate our days. Our days are ordered by the activities of work and rest. Seasons change in a regular way from times of growth to times of death. God established this time consciousness. Genesis 1 shows the centrality of time, which God created when He instituted “evening and …morning, the first day”, (v. 5) set the time sun, moon and stars in the heavens and rested on the seventh day as a model for us (Exodus 20:8–11). Our seven-day week continues to recall God’s incomparable creation of the world.
Easter is the principle feast day of the Church. It is the Son’s Day of Days as the Church celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord; it is also an event by which Christians identify themselves as distinctly new creations. The Nativity of Our Lord, celebrated on December 25, is the second great Christian feast and is most clearly the Father’s Day. On this day, God gives His most precious gift of life to the world in the person of His Son, Jesus. Finally, Pentecost is the Spirit’s Day. Celebrations of the Epiphany and the Transfiguration of Our Lord also recall Jesus’ ministry in power and glory. Holy Trinity Sunday reminds us of the great controversies and struggles in the first three centuries of Christianity as the Church sought to clarify and articulate the biblical revelation of God’s unity in three distinct persons. As time passed, notable Church leaders were remembered on their death day, underscoring the fact that death is actually an entrance or birth into the new life with Christ in heaven.
The Christian calendar is retained in Christian Church bodies throughout the world for several reasons. First, a regular calendar is helpful to keep the remembrances before us. Just as God commanded the Jewish people to recall how He had delivered them in the past, so, too, early Christians recalled the historic time-related events that were important to their faith. Second, Christians consider the regularity of the holidays teaching opportunities, with the celebration of the events of Christ’s life used to tell and retell the Good News. Finally, Christians recognize that Christ’s victory over death means that daily life focuses beyond the mundane, to eternity. A calendar of Christian events unites present-day believers with those of the past and the future.
The variety of festivals and commemorations on the present calendar is astounding. Martin Luther sought to reform the excesses that had crept into the church calendar by eliminating the festivals and commemorations that were most distant from Christ’s life and work. Yet Luther said that it is important for Christians to recall the great saints of the church because they are excellent models for our faith and life. These commemorations draw together our memories so that we can express our thanks to God for His gracious Spirit and receive encouragement in our own activities.
Saint John’s Board of Worship and the Arts oversees the details of the congregation’s worship life.