At Redemption City Church, we plan our liturgy, preaching, and church life around the traditional Church calendar (also known as the Liturgical Calendar). As we begin the first season of the year, Advent this Sunday, we thought it would be helpful to lay out a few reasons why we believe this is useful and healthy for a Christ-centered church and followers of Christ.
What is the Liturgical Calendar?
The traditional liturgical calendar reflects the storyline of the gospel. Beginning in Advent, the flow of the Church Year tells the story of Jesus. The seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany take us through the experience of longing for Jesus, his arrival, and the revelation of his glory to us. Lent and Easter help us experience the reality of our own sin, our need for a suffering Savior who dies and rises from the dead to secure our salvation. The Day of Pentecost and the season of Ordinary Time help us embrace our commission by the Risen Christ who has ascended to the Father and who has poured out his Holy Spirit on the Church, sending us with the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations as we await his return.
This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius. It is simple enough for a child. It offers enough opportunities for creativity and flexibility that it need never grow old. Each year provides a beautiful template for learning to walk with Christ more deeply in the Gospel which brings us faith, hope, and love.
Why Should We Use the Calendar?
Michael Spencer offers 5 helpful reasons why we should use the Calendar.
- It enables us to live in God’s Story. The practice of the liturgical calendar year forms Christian people around the story of redemption in Christ. It does not focus on “principles” or “steps” or “programs” for spiritual growth. It is thoroughly Jesus-shaped and uses the biblical story to conform our lives to his. As Israel was shaped by their story of slavery, redemption, covenant, and Promised Land, so the New Covenant Community is formed by the story of Christ.
- It keeps the main thing the main thing. Church Year spirituality is Christ-centered. It is shaped around the events of his incarnation, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of his Spirit. At every turn we see Jesus, we hear Jesus, we follow Jesus.
- It recognizes that one’s calendar forms one’s life. Church Year spirituality is down-to-earth, utterly realistic about the day to day, season to season patterns of life that shape our behavior. All our lives we have developed habits by the way we mark and use our time. A spirituality formed around the Church Year is designed to form our habits around following Jesus. We take the place of disciples and walk through the same experiences they had as they lived with Jesus day in and day out, season after season, over the course of three years.
- It links personal spirituality with worship, family, and community. Church Year spirituality recognizes both the individual journey and the corporate pilgrimage. What happens on Sundays is of a piece with what happens during the week as our corporate worship and our daily lives as individuals and families are shaped around the story of Jesus.
- It provides a basis of unity and common experience for Christians everywhere. Our unity with other Christians is in the Gospel story. This is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and the other creeds of the church. Propositional doctrinal statements have their place as ways to express more detailed understandings of the meaning and significance of God’s saving acts, but our unity with other believers is in Christ. We celebrate this throughout the year when churches of various traditions and denominations celebrate the Church Year and conform their worship and congregational lives to it.
RCC Bible Reading Plan
Our new RCC Reading Plan seek to align with these high points during the Church Year, even reflecting the colors of the Church calendar. Therefore, the books of the bible are not read in order, but in light of their doctrinal focus and alignment with the rhythm of the Church year. You can learn more or download a copy HERE.
Check out a few of our favorite resources on liturgy, and the liturgical calendar.
- Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Yea
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
- Desiring the Kingdom:(Cultural Liturgies): Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation
- Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice
- Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel