We are now mid-way through November and that means Advent and Christmas are right around the corner! During these times of year, most of us have all sorts of different family traditions that we enjoy partaking in. Well, as the Church, we also have a number of traditions that we participate in as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of Jesus. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll explain a bit of what we do and why.
Today I’ll start with a brief introduction to The Christian Calendar.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that, as a disciple of Jesus, you desire to grow as a disciple. I’m going to assume that you want to challenge yourself to deepen your devotion to Christ and make Him the very centre of your life.
Well, the spiritual discipline of practicing the Christian Year is a very simple, tangible way to do exactly that!
What is the Christian Year? Click HERE to view a brief video intro.
As this video explains, by practicing the Christian Calendar, either personally or corporately, it allows us to enter into the narrative of Scripture; we make the Gospel Story the centre of our lives.
Because let’s be honest: for most of us, we know that our lives should be shaped by the Biblical narrative, yet can barely manage to sneak in daily Scripture reading and prayer. I don’t think I’m saying anything shocking or new; we can all identify with this struggle. Well, one of the reasons why we struggle with this is because we have placed ourselves at the centre of our lives and then try to cram in as much faith in Jesus with what little time and energy we have left. Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario.
So, what if we made the Story of Jesus the centre of our lives… literally!
What if the way we told time could be a way for us to deepen our discipleship?
What if the events in the life of Jesus became the centre of how I structured my life?
Or, maybe I could put it this way:
What defines our lives? What dictates how we tell time?
Does school define who we are and how we live?
Does work define who we are and how we live?
Do our children’s sports schedules or music lessons (etc.) dictate how we structure our lives?
Of course we know that it should be Jesus that defines who we are and how we live, but the rest of our busy lives consume all of our time, meaning that Jesus gets relegated with the leftovers (sorry if this sounds really negative and cynical, but isn’t this too often the reality we live in?).
By disciplining ourselves to structure our lives within the Christian Calendar, it removes me from the centre and places Jesus there. It replaces my agenda with Jesus’ agenda. It means that I don’t get to decide when I celebrate this or remember that (you know, whenever it is convenient for me). Instead, my desires are set aside to be addressed by Jesus in His time. It means that the narrative of Scripture and the life of Jesus direct my path and my schedule.
On top of all this, following the Christian Calendar ensures that we live a Biblically balanced, holistic life: It teaches us when and how to wait, when and how to celebrate, it walks us through times of mourning, lamenting, and confession along with times of rejoicing and praising. And in all of this our lives become a proclamation of Jesus because they reflect His entire life: birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. By disciplining ourselves to engage with all of these elements it teaches us, forms us, and equips us with everything we need to engage with and reach out to this fallen world.
So, there you have it: my little introduction to the spiritual discipline of living Jesus-Centred-Time.
Next week I’ll explain what Advent is all about and how we can practice it both personally and corporately.