Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Calendar: Living the Story

I was raised Baptist.

Walking to Church, by Randolph Caldecott
So when I was a child, this was the church calendar:
  • Christmas
  • New Year's 
  • Palm Sunday
  • Easter
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Church Picnic
  • Repeat

Then in my early twenties, I started going to an Episcopal church. Major culture shock! Suddenly, the Church Calendar got a lot bigger and more complex. It seemed like every day of the week was the Feast of Saint So-and-so, and there were whole special seasons with their own colors and traditions and rituals. This was mind-boggling to a young Baptist, but I grew to love the Calendar and the story it tells.

Advent Wreath,
Photo by Micah L. Rieser
The Church Year, recognized by liturgical churches around the world, starts with the First Sunday of Advent, which usually falls at the end of November. Advent anticipates the coming of the Christ-child at Christmas and the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany

Lent anticipates the Passion of the Christ during Holy Week--the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Jesus washing the disciples' feet and serving the first Communion (Maundy Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday), and the Resurrection (Easter). The Easter season leads up to Ascension and the Sending of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). 

Photo by GFreihalter

Pentecost, in Episcopal churches, is a long season that stretches all the way up to Advent, but I guess that works. I like to think that we are living in a perpetual season of Pentecost, extending the book of Acts as we await the return of the King.
The Second Coming of Christ window
at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
in Charleston, SC. 
And here's the funny thing about the Church Calendar. The first Sunday of Advent celebrates Second Advent, the Second Coming of Christ. The story of the Calendar actually begins at the end and then flashes back to the period of waiting for the birth of Jesus.

Photo by Lienhard Schultz
Throughout the seasons, year after year, the Calendar keeps telling this same story of the life and triumph of Jesus--His birth, His earthly ministry, His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, and the work of His disciples as they await His return in glory! 

Advent, the current season of the Calendar, is about waiting. Waiting for the birth of a Baby. Waiting for a new revelation of the Savior in my own life. Waiting to see what God will do next. 

If you live in the Calendar, you are always celebrating the Now, while waiting for something even better to come. You experience the "old, old story," which is always new, always surprising.You aren't just reading or listening to a story. 

You are living the greatest story ever told.


  1. Wonderful! So true, the liturgical calendar is the hem of our life.

  2. And may we fully live the NOW in His Peace and Grace. Amen.

    Thanks for that wonderful trip through the liturgical year...loved it...of course!