Happy New Year!
Some of you might be wondering why I'm a month early in wishing you a happy New Year but please, hang with me. I'm not talking about a new year in the sense that I'm celebrating 2015 a month early. I'm talking about the fact that a new year has started in regards to the church calendar.
That's right, yesterday marked the beginning of Advent which means that a new liturgical year has begun with Advent as it's first season. This idea of a liturgical calendar is something I discussed in (some) depth in Part 2 of my "Liturgy Series" that I've been working through here at Torrey Gazette.
One of the things I discussed in Part 2 was the fact that, whether we recognize it or not, everyone shapes their lives around some liturgical calendar or another. It might be the liturgical calendar of consumerism that has (unfortunately) leeched itself on to the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It might be the liturgical calendar of your favorite sport. Or, it might even be the liturgical calendar of the civic religion that revolves around the celebrating the saints of the state (dead presidents, service men and women, etc.)
What's important to recognize in all this is that, no matter what, we will follow some (most likely more than one) liturgical calendar throughout the weeks and months that make up our lives. Moreover, the liturgical cadences of these competing calendars will shape our desires whether we like it or not. The strong pull of the secular liturgy of consumerism is noted in television advertising & "door-buster sales." The allure of the secular liturgy of sport is seen in the fact that each new season could be your team's season to "win it all." These liturgies pull on our desires throughout the year in many different ways.
In recognizing the ways in which secular liturgical calendars pull on and shape our desires we can more clearly see the wisdom of embracing the liturgical calendar of the church. Following such a liturgical calendar functions as a counter-formation to the liturgical calendars that wish to shape our desires contrary to the Kingdom of God.
One way a person or a family could go about following the church calendar would be to conform their Bible reading to the church calendar rather than many of the alternative options that are currently so popular. Such a simple step would not only attune an individual or family to the seasons of the church but it would also remind them that their Bible reading is not something to be done apart from the life of the church. While our individual walks with Christ are important, they should never (indeed can never) be isolated from the life of the Body. Can a hand that is severed from the body live?
Many churches offer Advent readings leading up to Christmas, that could also be a good step to take. Beyond that, following the daily office readings from the Book of Common Prayer is a wonderful idea!
Food for thought.