The Christian Year: Six Benefits
How rich is the congregation who observes the Christian Year carefully!
Consider these six benefits for congregations and its leaders who plan and lead worship around the Christian Year.
- Protection from being overcome by a secular calendar
Pressure is put on worship planners to observe events that really have little to do with the worship life of the people of God. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and many other big and little events on the secular calendar call for attention. They may all be valuable in their own right, and it may be interesting and beneficial for a community to observe these events, but they hardly warrant the authority to shape the worship life of the Christian congregation. Observing the Christian Year will enable worship planners to rise above all secular considerations and be Christ-centered in its worship for forming deep faith.
- A complete annual journey through the entire ministry of Christ
Preachers are often haunted by the awareness that they each have their own “pet themes” and consequently are not as balanced and well-rounded as they ought to be. They naturally and without realizing it overemphasize some themes and underemphasize others. But an annual comprehensive Christology is not only a safeguard, but a mighty healthy balanced diet for the people of God. Such a balanced journey through Christ’s ministry is assured by this structured seasonal observance.
- A balanced diet of emotion in our spiritual journey and our worship life
We discovered that each season involves its own emotion. In Advent we eagerly stand on tip-toe in anticipation; on Christmas we erupt in joy; during Epiphany we see more and more of his truth being revealed; during Lent we struggle, sorrow, repent and call for mercy; at Easter we shout our “Hallelujahs”; in Eastertide we come face to face with the hope we have in Christ; and at Pentecost we gain confidence and peace in the presence of the Holy Spirit. One can easily see how different will be the spirit and emotion of each season of worship.
- Extended periods of time for directed reflection and preparation
When extended periods of directed reflection are provided, the health of a congregation is well served. For instance, Advent helps us prepare for Christ's coming in a way that will counter the world’s commercial preparation. Lent helps us center on self-examination, repentance, and a readiness to walk to the cross. Eastertide directs us to think more deeply about the implications of the Easter event which otherwise is too quickly put away. And the extended Growing Time gives us weeks and months to ever-more-deeply develop our discipleship and response on the basis of Christ’s finished work.
- Significant aid to worship planners
If you are a worship planner, you have experienced already the weariness that can result from week-after-week planning. Every week requires more ideas, greater creativity, and constant freshness. Worship planners therefore are easily haunted by a fear that “sameness” marks their work. What a gift, then, to be able to know weeks and months ahead of time the themes that will likely shape worship. And how refreshing to work with a season now that is significantly different in spirit than the season of last month!
- An expression of Christian unity
While not every congregation can be expected to worship in a way that is identical to others, when the Christian Year is observed, it will be clear throughout town that we all, regardless of our traditions and each in our own way, will be focusing on similar themes and observing similar chapters in God’s redemptive work .
Blessed is the congregation with a diet of worship with such balance and richness.