God created time and space, and gave them as gifts to His creation. Such gifts bring order and definition to our universe, as well as a way to reference events that have already happened, things that are now occurring, and those events yet to come. Man was given the responsibility to manage these gifts.

You’re familiar with the phrase “Time waits for no one.” Time is the most valuable commodity we have; either we will waste it or invest it! We all have only a measure of time on earth (Psalm 31:15). Therefore, the greatest gift you can give to someone is your time. In essence, you consider that person worth such a costly exchange!

The first Law established in the earth was the Law of Sowing and Reaping (Seedtime and Harvest--Gen. 8:22). If we make time for others (God first), the Lord will “stretch” our time, either literally or figuratively. He will increase our productivity and effectiveness, and His blessings upon our use of time will result in what appears to be more “free” time.

 “So I will restore to you the years (In the Hebrew, more akin to ‘opportunities’) that the swarming locusts has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust.” Joel 2:25 nkjv

Actual time wasted in sin and disobedience can never be regained, and the consequences of our actions will leave marks upon time that others will reference. However, God in His mercy, who is the Lord of time and transcends it, offers to the penitent the restoration of many missed opportunities.

In an effort to use time wisely, man has invented many time-keeping devices--from sun dials to printed calendars to gizmos with impressive bells and whistles. Whether managed electronically or by the “old-fashioned” ballpoint pen, the phrase “I’ll pencil you in” is Standard English (particularly in the West). Moms keep track of soccer practices, school plays, and dinner menus.

Dad skillfully manages his weekly work schedule, knowing that minutes, hours, and days translate into much needed income for his family. Children manage to “make time” for their extra curricular activities, but somehow lose that ability when it comes to managing homework deadlines. The saying, “We always seem to find the time for the things we consider important” is so true for all of us…at any age!

What about personal time with the Lord? What about time invested in Church life? These investments have a higher rate of return than all our other activities combined! We are eager to “pencil” in everything else, while our time with the Lord remains a flexible option.

Christians read in the Old Testament how God moved His people through a rhythmic calendar of seasons, feasts, and holy days that enabled the unified, covenant community to stay focused on the spiritual in a material world. Some people say, “That’s no longer necessary”. I beg to differ. A church loosed from ancient moorings is adrift through time. 

Modern Church life is often lived out incrementally--from Sunday to Sunday or event to event with no true sense of identity, why they worship, and where they’re going. There’s no link to history and no connection to the
now unfolding and future encompassing of the Kingdom of God.

For instance, many believers have lost the truth of the “Communion of the Saints”  that once existed in the historic churches; that is, that as the faithful gather for the Covenant Meal the boundaries of time and space can be surpassed in Christ as the Church in heaven and earth worship as one. 

Some time after the council of Nicea (A.D. 325), the concept of a Christian Year began to develop. It was designed to move around the person and work of Jesus Christ. Sadly, most churches today mark ecclesiastical time by who speaks from the pulpit, not Who’s present at the Altar. The modern Church calendar is packed with a flurry of diversely focused meetings, programs, and concerts--all designed to hopefully keep the busy family interested in “growing and going for Christ.”

By contrast, the historic Church remains relatively faithful to the way the early church marked time on earth and measured spiritual growth. Most of the elements of the Christian Year were combined together during the 4th and 5th centuries into the form that we recognize today.

The Christian Year begins on the first Sunday of Advent (the fourth Sunday before December 25). Festivals or “feast days” commemorate historical events in the life of Christ or in the experience of the early Church. Dates remembering the lives and contributions of the great saints and martyrs of the Church are also recorded in order for today’s faithful to emulate their courage, purity, and devotion to Christ.

The Seven Seasons of the Church Year
teach the four doctrines of the Church:
The Incarnation, The Atonement, The Resurrection, Holy Trinity 
  1.  Advent – Preparation
Color:  Serum Blue (or purple) – the royalty of Christ as King
Significance:  Begins the Christian Year/penitential season of reflective thankfulness for our Savior’s first coming as Servant and Sacrifice/readiness for His return as Judge and King
Theme:  The two comings of Christ to earth
Duration:  It starts four Sundays prior to Christmas Day on the Sunday nearest November 30th and ends on Christmas Eve.
Major Feasts:  None
  1. Christmas – Celebration
Color:  White (or Gold) – the purity, holiness, and perfection of Christ
Significance:  Honors the birth of Christ
Theme:  The Incarnation
Duration:  It starts at the first Eucharist on Christmas Eve and ends on Epiphany, January 6th.  It last 12 days (the Twelve Days of  Christmas).
Major Feasts:  The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Dec. 25th)

The Holy Name (Circumcision and naming of Christ--January 1st)

Day of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28th)--an important Feast remembering the children who were slain by Herod/a day to pray for the innocents slain daily by abortion 
  1. Epiphany – A Showing Forth
Color:  Green – representing the Christian life and the renewal that comes from Christ. (Major Feast Days are White)
Significance:  The appearance and revelation of Christ to the world, as see in the visit of The Magi (Gentiles) to the Christ Child
            Theme:  God became flesh and dwelt among us
            Duration:  It lasts from January 6th to Shrove Tuesday.
            Major Feasts:   Feast of Epiphany (White – Jan. 6th)
Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ (White--first Sunday after Epiphany)

Please continue with Part II...

Mary Diane blogs on topics regarding the liturgy, sacraments, signs, and symbols of the early church at CONFERRING GRACE.

She spent the first twenty-five years of her life in an evangelical denomination, followed by another twenty-five as a leader in the Charismatic Renewal.

When God led her family back to the anchor of the early church, Mary Diane discovered that much of what she had been told or taught about the expressions  of faith within liturgical/sacramental churches had been distorted over time.

It is her desire to provide sound, Biblical teachings that embrace all three streams of Christianity--Evangelical, Charismatic, and Sacramental--into one mighty river, and help dispel misconceptions that seeks to divide the Body of Christ.

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