THE CHURCH YEAR
Like creation itself, the ancient church has long observed the passage of time through various sacred seasons. God, after all, established an order for the passage of time by creating a pattern for days, weeks, seasons and years. This patterned order of time has also been observed by various rituals among people over the centuries as well. Some rituals are daily like meals, work, prayer and rest. Others are weekly like worship, sporting events or weekends off. And still others are yearly such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
It is clear from the Bible that God desires his people observe the passage of our limited time within the context of Jesus’ saving work through time. This is evident in how God commanded Ancient Israel to observe daily temple worship, weekly Sabbath rest and annual sacred festivals. Observances such as these helped the people of Israel understand their daily lives in light of the eternal significance of God’s creative and saving acts in time.
The ancient church continued to observe the passage of time through the seasons of the Church Year which helps us to view our daily lives constantly in light of God’s most powerful saving act of all; namely, the incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection and return of Jesus Christ. This annual pattern highlights for us the continual proclamation of the saving work of Jesus for all people and includes seasons that begin with Advent and continue through Christmas, Lent, Easter and more.
The purpose of the Church Year is intended to highlight the life of Jesus; His past and future work along with His current work in the life of the church. Nothing is more important to the life of the church than the life of Jesus. The ancient practice of following the Church Year testifies that the historical events in Jesus’ life continue to proclaim His salvation for us today!