This Lord’s Day is the first Sunday in the new liturgical year–the first Sunday in Advent. It’s a wonderful time jump into the story of God’s redemptive work in the story of Christ. Anna and I have really come to value the church calendar as an aid to our spiritual development and Christianity maturity. We have found that following the rhythm of the church calendar provides a powerful counter-narrative to the one provided by our culture. In our postmodern period, narrative is the single most formative element both for a culture and for a people, the church.
If you’ve ever wondered how powerful the culture’s narrative is, you need only consider Christmas Day itself. Two examples:
- Most evangelical Christians do not attend worship on Christmas Day.
- If Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, many evangelical churches cancel worship.
To unpack this a little bit. By doing this, we are following in the culture’s story about Christmas–that it is a day for family, for fun, for lazing around in pajamas while opening presents. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for this.
However, Scriptures suggests to us that our sisters and brothers in the faith at the parish of which we’re a part are just as much, if not more, our family than those biologically or legally related to us.
This reality calls into question our forsaking corporate worship on Christmas Day. It also shows how important it is for us to have our faith shaped by the beliefs and practices of the Christian Church across the ages.
I’m happy to announce a new resource to help you and your family enter into this important spiritual practice. Doulos Resources is publishing a new title in 2013 with the working title, Celebrating the Church Year in the Home. This book is an excellent guide (both theologically and also in terms of practice) for individuals and families who want to deepen their faith through this important aspect of Christian spirituality.
Editor Jessica Snell summarizes the project like this:
It’s a book that will gather, in one place, all the information you need in order to match the rhythm of your home life to the rhythm of the church year. Is it Advent? Open the book to the chapter on Advent, and find seasonal prayers, recipes, and crafts, as well as the history of the season, and ideas for extending your celebration to include friends and neighbors. And the same for Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter . . . there’s not a season in the year we’re not covering!
My wife has written the chapter exploring the theology and practice of Epiphany. Anna has spent the last several years researching in the area of the theological meaning of the New Testament’s use of family metaphors for the Christian community (she is currently completing her thesis on this subject). In others words: I can’t think of someone more qualified to unpack the meaning of the church calendar for discipleship–both in the home and in the church–than her.
The book will go to press in 2013 and will be ready for your use at that time. Electronic copies may be available earlier.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and let it help you and your family grow in the practice of the Christian faith.
Note: I also recommend Bobby Gross’s excellent book Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God