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The Christian Calendar

Did you know that God’s people in the Old Testament followed two calendars—a civil calendar and a religious calendar?

The Lord instituted the Jewish religious New Year when He delivered them from Egypt (Exodus 12:2). The rest of the festivals and events of the religious calendar are laid out by the Lord for His people at Mt. Sinai (see the books of Exodus and Leviticus).

These festivals drew the people’s attention to the problem of sin and the Lord’s promised deliverance from that sin through the coming Savior.  This was a source of comfort and hope for God’s Old Testament believers.

We are no longer bound by those same Old Testament festivals and customs which were a “shadow of things to come” – namely, Jesus the Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

The Church Year Calendar and the New Testament festivals used in our churches today also serve to draw the attention of God’s people to the problem of sin and to the Lord’s promised deliverance through the Savior who has come. This New Testament Calendar should be a source of comfort and hope for God’s believing children, just as it was for God’s Old Testament people.

  • We begin with the “month” of Advent in which we anticipate the coming of our promised Savior.
  • We move to the shorter “month” of Christmas when we give “glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14) at the fulfillment of God’s promise in the Babe born to Mary.
  • In the “month” of Epiphany we see the Messiah’s glory revealed in His powerful works and words, culminating at His Transfiguration.
  • In the reflective “month” of Lent Jesus’ purpose is clearly seen as He makes His way to Jerusalem where He would be “delivered up for our trespasses” and “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
  • The bitter days of Lent bring us to the joyous “month” of Easter where life is seen once again – our hope of eternal life assured by the resurrection of our Savior from the dead. Jesus’ promise gives lasting comfort: “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).
  • After Easter we come to the short “month” of Pentecost where the work of the Holy Spirit is emphasized and brought to our minds. Surely, “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b).
  • Finally we come to the lengthy “month” of Trinity. Here we grow in our knowledge of our Triune God and the great things the Lord God has done for sinners like us!

As we near the end of another church year, how fitting that we often close it out with a “national” day of Thanksgiving! This year—between the last Sunday in Trinity and the first Sunday in Advent—we have the opportunity to celebrate and thank God for His many gifts of body and soul!

How appropriate to gather with like-minded Christ-believers to thank God for all the blessings of the past church year and to look ahead to a new church year, confident that He will continue to bless us through His Word.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good! For His mercy
endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).