What is the Liturgical (Church) Calendar?

“The Church Calendar—also called the Liturgical Year— seeks to redeem our time and space through the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. Through readings, prayers, songs, fasts and other practices, these seasons help to reorient our hearts and minds away from the false stories of the world and back toward the one true story of the Bible—the Christian story.”[1]The Village Church

“Over the centuries, the church has fittingly sacralized [set apart] time by means of the liturgical calendar with its practices and celebrations, and we can fruitfully appropriate the pattern in our personal discipleship and devotion.” Bobby Gross[2]

A liturgical or Church calendar might be new for many of you. That’s okay. The seasons and holidays (holy days) historically celebrated by the Church—including seasons like Advent or Lent, or days like Easter and Christmas—aren’t laid out in the Bible or given as commands Christians must observe. They’re optional, so we should not give into any legalistic tendencies of requiring them. However, similar to how God set aside special days, seasons, and festivals to build God-centered and faith-increasing rituals into the life of Israel, the early Church saw the value of building special seasons to focus on specific works of Christ into their calendar.

For most of us today, our annual calendars revolve around other things: national holidays, school semesters and breaks, sports schedules, nature’s seasons, a work week and weekend, or our ongoing commitments. This means on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis we tend to live by the beat of the drum played by the world around us. We get caught up in the busyness and ordinary routines of living this way. As a result, we rarely set aside time, days or seasons, to focus on specific aspects of our Christian faith. Our calendar, schedules, and lives end up being set by our agenda or the agenda of the world and not necessarily set by Jesus.

While the liturgical calendar has been around since the early Church, many followers of Jesus today are returning to it. The return isn’t out of duty or legalistic obligation but to establish intentional times to set their minds on Jesus and practice spiritual disciples they otherwise might neglect. Each season, week, or day revolves around something in the life of Christ, and with each season we have opportunities to lean into biblical practices and postures conforming us into his image. The fact is we all live by some calendar, just as we all have some regular habits and treasured traditions, whether we realize it or not. The value in leveraging a Church calendar is we get to choose to calibrate our calendar, our traditions, and our habits on Christ and the Word.

“While we should always make sure we’re not falling into meaningless routines and simply going through the motions, it’s hard to think of a better way we can spend our time each and every year. The gatherings, the practices and the traditions of the seasons help us remember the one true story of the Bible—who God is and what He has done in Jesus Christ—and help us to live in that story every day as the people of God.” [3]

Suggested Resources


Footnotes

[1]The Village Church, “Seasons, 2018-2019: Enter the Story of Jesus,” 6. https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/guides/seasons11/5/18.
[2]Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year(Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2009), 21.
[3]The Village Church, “Seasons,” 7.

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indycrowe

You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @IndyCrowe for the short & sweet stuff.

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