I’m posting this in hopes that maybe one of you can offer some insight to my calendars quandry. Plural intended.
I’m not wrestling with the 365-day, 12-month calendar hanging on my kitchen wall and filling the pages of my Day-Timer. The calendars that don’t make sense to me are the calendar marking the cycle of feast and fast observance prescribed in the Old Testament and the calendar used by liturgical churches to mark the Christian year. Jesus celebrated the former, but within a few hundred years, an entirely new feast and fast cycle replaced it. The “gentile-ization” of the early church combined with rising anti-Semistism among some influential church leaders starting in the second century (and continuing in various corners of Christendom to this day) contributed to this shift.
The Christian year is divided into two sections – the first half of the year (or so) that begins today traces the life and ministry of Christ. The second half of the year is called “Ordinary Time” and gives liturgical communities an opportunity to explore what it means to be the church in the world.
The Jewish yearly cycle of observance tells the story of God’s redemptive work among his people. Jesus, who fulfilled the Law perfectly, participated in this cycle each of the 33 years of his beautiful life. It wasn’t just to check off a box on some heavenly punch list that marked his obedience. This cycle meant something. It still means something – and not just to Jewish people. I think it means something to each one of us who call ourselves followers of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.
I understand that this cycle was given to the Jewish people and to those from among the other nations who’d embraced their God. And I understand a bit of the history of how the Christian year diverged from this cycle. The springtime Jewish feasts are those most closely synced in time to the Christian Holy Week events and Shavu’ot/Pentecost.
I can honor the Christian liturgical cycle (I even have an article in a devotional Bible designed around the Christian year.) But I can’t get away from the fact that this cycle designed to honor Christ is pasted over the one given us by his Father.
I created this chart (link below) to lay the two cycles of observance next to one another. I added a bit more detail about the Jewish feast cycle because I’m guessing most of you reading this may know less about this one than the church year. There are all sorts of intricacies that don’t allow these to be quite so tidy as my chart suggests (lunar calendars and leap years and random popes), but this is a simple place to start a conversation or two. I looked for something less Michelle-generated on Ye Olde Interwebs, but to no avail.
So – click on the “calendars” link below, skim my fancy-schmancy chart, and share your observations. I’d love your thoughts on this subject.
Have you ever considered what kind of story one calendar or the other tells us about God and ourselves?