Happy New Year!

The third Sunday in Advent sees the lighting of the rose candle. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Have you ever noticed how our lives are dictated by time? I’m sure you have, it’s a rather obvious conclusion to come to, seeing how time marches forward and demands our attention. But have you ever noticed how the center of our lives revolves around the calendar? The calendar marks the days, the months, and the years. The calendar marks special days of celebration, feast days like the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Year’s, and of course Super Bowl Sunday. The calendar sets a rhythm for our life, revolving around things that are deemed important. 

We don’t only do this with the calendars that mark national holidays, but with personal calendars as well. We fill them with dates and times that we cannot miss. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, appointments, and vacations fill our days amid our day-to-day lives. Our calendars ebb and flow with the seasons as they come and go, and they evolve as time goes on. They reflect what is most important to us at that time of our lives. Our calendars set a rhythm for our lives around the things that are most important to us. So, how can the Christian use the calendar to center their lives around Christ? By observing the calendar of the church year. 

I know, it is sort of a novel concept these days with many churches forsaking the lectionary, and the church calendar altogether instead replacing it with sermon series about whatever soapbox the pastor wants to get on for the next six weeks. But the church calendar is a great gift to the church because it keeps us centered and in rhythm around what’s most important, Christ. The seasons of the church keep the church year constant in the ebbs and flows of the year, always centering around Christ and his work, now imagine observing the church calendar not only on Sundays but every day. Finding a rhythm around not only major feast days like Christmas and Easter, but around the feast days of the Saints who have gone before us, around smaller less celebrated feasts like the Baptism of our Lord and the Transfiguration. It helps us to keep Christ before our very eyes, in all things, and at all times.

So, as we begin this new year, this new church year that is, I invite you to embrace the church calendar. Whether your church observes it or not add those feast days to your personal calendar. Find ways to observe the feasts of the Saints. Find ways to observe the Holy Days of the church year, to make them special not only in your church but in your home as well. Allow the church calendar to help us stay centered on Christ no matter the time of the year. For Christ and his work are the most important things. So, allow them to be important every day, not just Sundays, allow them to be important all the time, not just part-time. I wish you a blessed Advent and a happy new year. Your King is coming to you.