No, I'm not suffering from some Thanksgiving Day hangover that's lasted for several days now, because tomorrow is actually the day we Christians celebrate the New Year (liturgically speaking) in Christ's Church.
I saw this posted on Facebook by an acquaintance of mine (Jeffrey D) and simply had to share it here, because this is definitely one of the things I've come to love quite a bit about this experience of God converting me from being an American Evangelical (or "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" for 30+ years) into a Confessional Lutheran.
This Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent, which is the beginning of the Church Year. I thought that folks might find this helpful (heading is mine, not Dr. Just's)...
Why The Church Established The Liturgical Calendar
"Time has always been a critical commodity, no less so in the Church. And the Church has no other choice than to be a good steward of time. Long, slow, annual rhythms in time serve theology. The Church has seized this rhythm, taking up the INCARNATION and the CRUCIFIXION (emphasis mine), the two scandals of Christianity, and establishing them to be the two great festivals of the Church Year, Christmas and Easter. These are the pivots of the liturgical year. Observing the Church Year…goes head-to-head with culture in order to form a body of believers around sacred rather than secular time. When the congregation does not observe the Church Year, it passes up a golden opportunity to elevate the Gospel of Him who died and rose for the life of the world…Why would we ignore Christ’s death and resurrection in the way we mark time? Reverence of sacred time assists the congregation in worshiping a present person whose mighty deeds of salvation took place in time because that person enfleshed Himself in time and space. He still operates in time and space within the worshiping community. Fidelity to the historical acts of Jesus’ life as marked in the Church Year gives the congregation a bridge across time so that it can see that these past acts of salvation are actually present realities. The future benefits of salvation are already now available to the congregation sacramentally. The Church Year exists for the sole reason of centering the Church’s life in the life of Christ and proclaiming that the historical reality that 'Jesus died' is now the sacramental reality that 'Jesus died for you.'"
*- Dr. Arthur Just; “Heaven on Earth”, Chapter 7: The Christian Concept of Time, pages 128-129
As a new Lutheran, I absolutely treasure the Historic Liturgical Calendar
I couldn't agree more! Yes, as a "Newtheran" myself, I too "absolutely treasure the Historic Liturgical Calendar." As one Susan H commented, "Including the liturgy is a very important part of the Lutheran Church service. Without it, it doesn't seem like church to me."
Now, please note, someone pointed out how Reformation Day is missing from that image above of the Church Year. However, as some people commented...
It is fine to leave out Reformation Day. Reformation is not a high feast day. The days mentioned on that calendar are. major days. A better detail though would be to mark St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Michael and All Angels. The reason being that those two days plus All Saints Day are the divider days of Post-Pentecost. With the focus being upon the growth of God's Kingdom. St. Peter & Paul marks the Saints of ages past. St. Michael reminds us of the angels. All Saints calls to mind all Christians.
Reformation Day is only a commemoration and not even a third-class festival and has no place trumping a Sunday. However, even an otherwise liturgically-minded pastor would have trouble removing it from their parish's celebration on the last Sunday of October.
Whether Reformation Day is included or not, there's something very comforting about the Church Year when it's followed year-after-year within a particular congregation as opposed to a parish simply choosing to do "topical sermons" on whatever float's their boat as the winds of change demand a watered-down version of God's Word.
In any event, here's how my "Lutheranism 101 For Kids" sums up the Church Year...
Our lives are similar to a wheel -- each year goes around and around as we move forward throughout the years. Along the way, we experience special times, like birthdays, holidays, and seasons. The Church has a calendar like this too. We call it the Church Year, and it has special days and seasons. Each of these days and seasons gives us a reason to celebrate God's work for us.
For me, it's the "celebrate God's work for us" part that makes me truly appreciate the Church Year and the Liturgical Christian Church Calendar, because it's always about "Jesus For Me!" as opposed to "Me For Jesus!" all the time.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, the beauty of the historic Liturgical Christian Church Calendar is that it's Christ-centered, cross-focused, and it gives me an anchor to the saints that have gone before me by having its roots firmly planted in "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!