The celebration of the various seasons of the historical church calendar has largely fallen from favor in the Evangelical community, though it remains a fixture in many liturgical churches. Christmas and Easter are certainly recognized but the preceding weeks of Advent and Lent have fallen from the consciousness of churchgoers and worship leaders. When was the last time your church celebrated Pentecost? The loss of the calendar for our worship ultimately serves to weaken our worship as secular concerns direct our schedule.
The idea behind the calendar of church life comes from God in creation. In six days he marked each new aspect of creation and then rested on the seventh, showing us the pattern for different times of life each having their own purposes. In the Old Testament we find that the Jewish year revolved around three feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles).
“Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.- Exodus 23:14
Christians soon added Easter and the Christmas celebration to the calendar, along with the seasons of piety (Lent and Advent) that preceded them. More milestones were added during the passing of the year creating what are known as ‘seasons’ within the liturgy. Each season serves as the spiritual foundation of our remembrance of the major events in God’s story. In recognizing the period of the calendar in which we live and share life together we gain a greater sense of our place alongside all of the saints who have preceded us in history. We develop a spiritual awareness of all of the things we hold in common.
Birth of the Savior ~ Christmas
Rebirth and Second Coming of the Savior ~ Advent
Death of the Savior ~ Lent & Holy Week
Resurrection of the Savior ~ Easter
Coming of the Holy Spirit ~ Pentecost
When we recognize the uniquely spiritual nature of our calendar, we serve to draw distinctions between ourselves and the time keeping of the world. It reminds us that God remains in charge of time and that everything occurs according to His schedule. Our recognition of the seasons of worship that we pass through helps us to see and recognize the false idols of the world that attempt to infiltrate our lives for their own selfish purpose. No longer will we be susceptible to the Christmas decorations that begin to appear at the mall before All Saints Day in an attempt to purge our wallets of treasure. We will trust in God to bring the seasons as He deems appropriate.
Since the Reformation, there have been repeated movements to rid the Protestant church of anything that appears to Roman in its structure, and the liturgy and calendar have been victims of these purges. Worship leaders and pastors especially should consider carefully what has risen to replace them in leading of God’s people. We have no reason to fear the calendar and every reason to restore it to its proper place within God’s Church.
Grace and peace to you.