Pastor Joseph Abrahamson has a running project of refuting the notion that Christian holidays derived from pagan festivals. You have got to read what he says about the history of Halloween. [Read more…]
This is the week before Holy Week, a part of the church year known as Passiontide. Contrary to those who think that liturgical worship is the same old thing every week, the liturgy, while following the same structure, actually changes each week, with different Bible readings and collects, and it features meaningful variations according to the church year. Sunday, our pastor explained and put into effect worship customs for Passiontide that I never knew about before. [Read more…]
I hope you had a glorious Easter. I also hope that your joy in Christ’s resurrection continues. Easter is not just a day but a season, as we now remember the days that the risen Christ spent with His disciples. That was a period of 40 days until His Ascension, but the Easter season goes on for 50 days until we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Of course, every Sunday recalls Christ’s resurrection, and Jesus promises to be with us “always” (Matthew 28:20). But for now, let’s keep Easter going.
If you had any epiphanies, sudden realizations, new insights, or really good sermons or services yesterday, tell us about them here.
The post about “Happy New Year,” referring to the beginning of Advent and asking about why the last days of the church year aren’t really noted, made me realize that the church year is not supposed to cover everything. Christians are under two calendars, just as they live their lives in two times. There is the secular calendar, the time of the world, that progresses from season to season, along with its distinct cultural and national holidays, such as in the USA Independence Day and Thanksgiving. And then there is the liturgical calendar, commemorating the life of Christ and of the Church. The church calendar is superimposed on the secular calendar. Christians participate in them both, just as they participate in both of God’s Kingdoms, His hidden rule over all of the created secular order and His revealed spiritual rule in Christ as manifested in the Church.
We shouldn’t follow the church calendar alone, rejecting the secular calendar, with its pagan nomenclature from Roman and Germanic deities (January from the two-faced god Janus; Wodin’s day, Thors’ day, Freya’s day), since we must live out our faith in this world. Nor should we follow the secular calendar alone, since Christ became incarnate in time. Sometimes the two time sequences counter each other, such as one of the most joyous days of the church year–Christmas– comes at the gloomiest point of winter. Sometimes they complement each other, as when the other most joyous day of the church year–Easter–comes at one of the most joyous times of the secular calendar, the season of Spring. And sometimes the church calendar crosses over into the cultural calendar, as Christmas does, just as Christianity has influenced the cultures in which it finds itself, and as Christ did when He became incarnate in human history.
So Christians can celebrate the new church year, beginning with Advent, which–as my pastor explained today–seamlessly follows the end of Pentecost, which also looks forward to Christ’s return. The church year is cyclical. It doesn’t count the number of years from Christ’s life, but rather keeps re-enacting them. Ironically, the secular calendar does count the number of years from the time of Christ, as the years forge linearly ahead. So Christians can also celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day when the secular calendar turns over. Christians live in two times, just as they live in two kingdoms.
Sunday is the first day of Advent, the beginning of the new church year. So happy New Year!
I have a question for you, one that I have been unable to answer, but I’m sure you readers can answer it for me: Last Sunday we celebrated the last Sunday of the church year, in which we contemplate the final victory of Christ the King at His return. It was a big deal, a fitting climax to the long, long season of Pentecost. But we don’t move from that to Advent, which is a full week away, always beginning on a Sunday. So what’s the story of the last week of the church year? Specifically, what’s the last day of the church year? Saturday will be the equivalent of New Year’s Eve. Doesn’t it have a name and some meaning? It seems odd to me that the church year seems to just fizzle out.
I would think there would at least be a saint’s day. In the Catholic calendar, every day, as I understand it, is devoted to one saint or another. There is St. Andrew’s Day on November 30. But what saint is honored on November 26? I had thought that the specific day of the month might vary from year to year. (Is the first Sunday of Advent always the Sunday after Thanksgiving? Since Christmas is always on December 25, perhaps there is some consistency. So in the secular calendar we have Thanksgiving, Black Friday [!], but then, again, what is Saturday?)
I have found that among the readers of this blog are people who are experts on just about everything, up to and including quantum physics and beyond. So who knows about the church year?