In the past few years, I have come to love the Christian year. It was one of the things that Protestants decided to take or leave during the Reformation. If you are looking, you can still see traces of it in many Protestant churches today. Some are fairly obvious about it like Episcopalians and others just give you a glimpse of it through their celebrations of Christmas and Easter.
Instead of marking time by months or years, the Christian calendar marks time by important events in the life of Christ and the early Church. We already mentioned the examples of Christmas and Easter but another one that most people are familiar with is Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church.
On the one hand, I can understand why the reformers would reject being told when to celebrate and discuss certain things, even if they agreed with them. However, I can also see great wisdom in setting aside time in advance to reflect on the important aspects of our faith. Common advice given to young professionals today is to have a plan. If you don’t plan to do something, then it will never get done, one might say.
It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day that we can let life pass us by if we’re not careful. I know that it happens all the time in my life, and especially in my spiritual life. Complacency is so easy! It takes no work at all in fact. I need the reminder to draw near to God, to renew my focus on Christ, and seek the Lord’s will for my life. That is the reason that I love the Christian year. Certainly, I could go through the effort to develop my own calendar and liturgical year, but that seems very unnecessary. I mean, even the reformers didn’t move the dates of Christmas and Easter.
One practical application of this in my life is using Holy Week as a time of quieting my heart and turning back to God. Although I don’t like to admit it, I need to spend time asking God to reveal the areas where I’ve let sin creep in over the past year. I need to ask God, “What path would you have me take this year? Where did I stray from your path for me last year and how can I learn from those failures?” I need to journey with Christ to the cross and come out on the other side resurrected and victorious. I bet you do too.