Write the Word Bible Journals

How Do You Measure Time? An Examination of Christian Calendar

We all measure our days, our lives by time. Minutes turn into hours. Hours into days. Days into weeks. Weeks into months.  Months into years. But when we are looking at time, we measure it by important events and seasons.

When my husband returned from one of his deployments, we took advantage of some of the re-integration counseling that the base offered. One of the first things the counselor had us do was work together to create a timeline of our relationship. It wasn’t divided up by months, we didn’t note the second week of June 2016, it was collections of days, conversations, and seasons that made up who we were as a couple. 

We highlighted our first date, the first time we discussed getting married, and that stressful period when he was in boot camp and we couldn’t communicate. Because those were the times that had shaped and molded us into who we were. 

I’m here, not to say we shouldn't acknowledge the 4th of July or Thanksgiving, but to say that, at the very least, we should also acknowledge the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven. Click To Tweet

As believers, we are also in a grand story of God’s faithfulness to His people. 

We were lost in our sin, separated from God, awaiting a Savior. He was born in a lowly place and served those around Him, setting an example for how we should live. Ultimately, He was welcomed as the Messiah into Jerusalem only to be betrayed, tortured, and killed later that week. Then, He arose, conquering Death and ascended into Heaven 40 days later. But we were not left alone, He sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost to live among us. 

This is our story. And the Church Calendar invites us to relive it all each and every year. 

We measure time by meaningful events and often, we measure years by the commemoration of holidays. The old norm of avoiding white after Labor Day until Memorial Day is possible because that’s how we all think of our year, as measured by celebrations and commemorations. We feel patriotic around the 4th of July remembering those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy. At Thanksgiving, we remember to stop and give thanks for the blessings in our lives and spend the month gearing up to do so. 

As followers of Christ, we need to reclaim our narrative. We need to re-story our lives as part of restoring our soul.

As followers of Christ, we need to reclaim our narrative. We need to re-story our lives as part of restoring our soul. Click To Tweet

Instead of living in a calendar that is focused on the actions men, let us orient our time around the story of the God who became Man and shed His blood on our behalf. 

I’m here, not to say we shouldn’t acknowledge the 4th of July or Thanksgiving, but to say that, at the very least, we should also acknowledge the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven. 

If we can take an entire month to surround Thanksgiving, surely we can celebrate the Resurrection for the full 50 days of Easter (yes, you read that correctly, Easter is traditionally celebrated for a full 50 days) instead of just dressing up for church, eating a nice dinner, then continuing on with our normal lives the next day. 

Let’s re-story our lives but shaping them around the Holy Days that the Church, from its earliest days, saw as important. 

Advent: The beginning of the new Church year, celebrated the 4 Sundays leading up until Christmas. A time of preparation and longing as we wait for the Messiah. 

Christmas: Celebrated for 12 days after December 25th to mark the birth of the Messiah. 

Epiphany: January 6th, the end of the Christmas season and the celebration of the Magi’s arrival in Bethlehem, the revelation of God to the Gentiles, and the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. 

Lent: 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. A time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as we remember the suffering of Christ, His period of fasting in the wilderness as He prepared for His ministry. Culminates in Holy Week, the week before Easter when we remember Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His betrayal, and His crucifixion. 

Easter: The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, triumph over the Grave, and time amongst His disciples. Celebrated for 50 days after Easter Sunday, until the coming on the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. 

Pentecost: Marked 50 days after Easter, Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the faithful gathered in the Upper Room. We remember how He empowered them to go into all the nations, as Christ instructed, spreading the Gospel. 

Ordinary Time: This season runs from Pentecost until the beginning of Advent and remembers God’s work through His Church. During this time, we recognize the work and teachings of the Apostles and the continuation of God’s faithfulness to His Church from then until the present day. 

Our lives are important to God.

They are not just rooted in stories of our personal triumphs or our country’s history, they are a part of the bigger story, one that began at Creation, of God’s faithfulness to His people. 

It is our duty to impress this story into our hearts and to keep it at the forefront of our minds. It equips us to live out the Truth of who God when we’ve engraved into our being over His faithfulness and the story of who He is and what He has done for us and for His glory. The Christian Calendar equips us to do this. 

It is our duty to impress this story into our hearts and to keep it at the forefront of our minds. It equips us to live out the Truth of who God when we’ve engraved into our being over His faithfulness and the story of who He is… Click To Tweet

When we live our lives patterned around His work, we remember our purpose and our worth. We see the faithfulness of Christ in following God’s will even unto death. Then, we follow His obedience by the power of Holy Spirit. We remember the cost of our salvation and the terrible burden that our sin was but that is met with Christ’s sacrifice. The hope of the Early Church is evident as we see them boldly go into the world and follow their example. 

Start today, in your home, with the recognition of what God has done. Read on the practices of the Church throughout history and follow the wisdom of the season. Not as a legalistic practice in which you find your salvation, but as a practice to help re-orient your life around who God is and what He has done for you. 

For desktop backgrounds and printable reminds of the seasons, sign-up for access to The Thin Place Resource Library below!

To study more about the Christian Calendar, check out these resource (Note: Some of these links are affiliate links).

Ancient-Future Time by Robert Webber

Sacred Ordinary Days

The Worship Sourcebook

This Church’s Article on the Liturigcal Seasons and Colors 

The Sacred Seasons Wall Calendar 

A Sacred Journey

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  1. This is a very interesting post. As a Christian, I totally agree with you. Honestly I often get swept away in the mundane everyday hustle bustle and miss the important things. Thank you for opening my eyes.

    • It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane of life. I love how the Church Calendar is constantly causing me to re-orient my eyes on Jesus.

  2. I really need to focus on following the church calendar *more* in my home, and with my family. We mainly just seem to focus on Christmas and Lent. Thanks for all the tips!

    • It is so easy since those are the “big” ones but if we take the fasting of Lent seriously, how much more seriously should we take the joy of the Resurrection?

  3. Interesting to read about how all these different calendar events came to be about in some of the christian churches. Not everyone follows lent or some of the others. That is religious freedom and why we have our free agency.

    • Candy, I certainly agree that we have freedom in this area and it is not an issue of salvation. However, until recent history, this was the practice of ALL churches for centuries. Because of that long-standing history, I think we would be wise to look to what they have done and not reject the pattern set before us without good reason. While Lent might not be necessary, it may certainly be helpful personally and corporately.

  4. Wow! I didn’t know about this. I didn’t even really think about the timeline of everything. I’m glad I read this though. It’s inspiring.

    • It is so interesting to learn about it all! I highly recommend the book Ancient-Future Time by Robert Webber if this interests you. It was a practice of the Church for almost 2,000 years that, sadly, many Protestant churches have completely abandoned for no real reason other than culture conformation.

  5. As a Christian who has never really followed the Christian calendar other than to celebrate Christmas and Easter,, this post gave me a lot to think and pray on. I would love to incorporate some of these practices in my own home.

  6. Fantastic! I confess I don’t often think about the church calendar, but I know from reading the Old Testament that God loves it when we REMEMBER His work and commemorate it. Great reminder.

  7. I think this is a great emphasis and love that it ties to our true purpose and worth! As one who writes and focuses a lot of my time on our Christian holidays, it was feeling like a really long wait now for another season (Christmas is so far away). I like the idea of observing these and meditating on them longer.

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