Calendars dictate our lives. We revolve our lives around calendar events as consistently as the sun rises and sets. That we do so isn’t a crime. In fact, we were created for steady and dependable rhythms. Every heartbeat, ocean tide, song, and season attest to our connection to a measured and cadenced life.
Here’s the question: what’s setting the rhythm of your life? What beats the drum of your ongoing activity? In particular, what calendar guides and shapes how you add to or take from the meaning and purpose of your life on a daily basis?
Is it your personal or family calendar? Work calendar? Vacation calendar? Sports calendars? School calendar? Planting calendar? Local church calendar?
Perhaps it’s the Gregorian calendar (the one most North Americans purchase when preparing for a new year)? Or, maybe one of the forty-plus calendars that currently exist around the world like the Chinese calendar, Egyptian calendar, Mayan calendar, or some other calendar based on a solar or lunar model?
Whether it’s the sun, moon, or a set 365-day cycle, our life is planned and plotted around a fixed schedule of days, events, and markers that call us to remember, participate, celebrate, and perpetuate the occasions and experiences that give life meaning and purpose.
The question remains: what calendar does your life revolve around?
The early Christians asked the same question. They decided that the center of their life was not Rome and all its activity, but Jesus and His unfolding love story for the world.
So, they got to work. By the end of the 4th century, they used the Roman/Gregorian calendar as a structured grid to plot a yearlong rhythm of centering their lives around Jesus’ life and the ongoing mission and activity of His Church.
The Christian Year begins in late November/early December with a season of preparing for Christ’s coming (past, present, future). The year continues with a focus on Jesus’ birth (Christmas) and the availability of His love and salvation to all the world (Epiphany). Next is a season of preparation, introspection and pruning (Lent) that helps us understand and practice our great dependence on Jesus. Holy Week and Easter follow—a season of participating more fully in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Then comes Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (Pentecost), a longer season of centering around our calling to be God’s salt and light in the world and participate in His work of drawing all people to Him as He makes all things new. The year finishes in November with Christ the King day—a celebration that Jesus is loving Lord over all people and things. The next week, as with the turn of the calendar from December to January, comes another year and another opportunity to make Jesus the center and driving force by which our lives and activities revolve. To learn more about the Christian Year, click here.
Much of what Christians learned about setting their lives to God’s rhythms came from the Jews. Jewish feasts and festivals helped center the Hebrew people around God’s activity in their lives and in the world. Jesus often took Jewish observances and gave them greater understanding and significance in helping us see a more complete picture of God and His love and action toward us. Christians would do well to understand more about the Jewish year and rhythms to gain a greater understanding of their own calendar. To learn more about the Jewish Holidays, Feasts and Festivals, click here.
Back to the question at hand: what calendar does your life revolve around?
On the first night of Passover, Jews celebrate a traditional meal together, called Seder. In that celebration, a son asks his father, “Papa, what’s different about tonight than all the other nights?”
What a great question to ask of us who follow Jesus.
“What will be different about this week than all the other weeks?”
Will you stand with the crowds who sing “Hosanna”? Will you walk with Jesus to the Temple courts and watch His exchange with the money-changers? Will you listen and learn as Jesus responds to those who want to win an argument more than know the truth? Will you rest with Jesus? Will you let Him wash your feet after having a most sacred meal with Him? Will you say with others, “I was there when they crucified my Lord”? Will you rejoice exceedingly when Mary comes with too-good-to-be-true news, “Jesus isn’t dead but alive!”?
In the origin of the word “calendar” is the idea “to call out.” Will this week call you out to a deeper understanding and connection to Jesus’ death-to-life story? Will you give yourself to Him in these days in such a way that your life will reflect His love and work in your life far beyond a good Friday and a glorious Sunday celebration?
As the earth revolves around the sun, so our lives revolve around something or someone. For those who claim Jesus as center-source of their life, the Christian calendar remains a great way to align one’s daily actively to the life, heart, and mission of Jesus.
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