Today marks the beginning of a new year for the Church. The Church Year begins every year at Advent, as we enter into the drama of expectation and longing for the coming of the Messiah. I think that a very healthy step for all non-liturgical Christians to take would be to begin observing the Church Year and the accompanying lectionary. Never heard of these things? Here’s a snippet about the Church Year from the Vanderbilt Lectionary Project:
The Church Year is an ancient way of telling time. Rather than measuring time exclusively according to the natural seasons, Christians have traditionally measured time in their worship with a calendar built around the life of Christ. Some of the seasons of the Church Year date back to our earliest written records of Christian worship. The current form of the Christian calendar, including its colors, dates, and feasts, was firmly in place by the medieval period.
Worship that is centered on the Church Year allows Christians to step into the life of Jesus. Seasons of hope and grief, mercy and penitence assure that all aspects of the human condition are given an appropriate place in the worship practices of the Church. The repetition of these seasons is also an educational tool, gently inculcating the heritage of the faith.
The readings from the lectionary follow the Church Year and ensure that we are being attentive to the whole Bible–including the parts we don’t like so much. The lectionary also connects us with the millions of Christians around the world who follow both the Church Year and the lectionary in their worship. This might help ecumenism, and help us to feel a little more grounded in our 2000 year tradition in this flighty world.
For more, poke around the Revised Common Lectionary (Vanderbilt Divinity School). (HT Dan)