“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
How do you keep track of time? We’re easily propelled through the day marking time by the rhythms of kids’ activities and nap schedules, by the cycles of preparing/eating/cleaning up meals, even by the schedule of our favorite programs on the radio or TV. (Maybe not TV…this is the age of DVR and Netflix, after all!)
When I don’t actively intervene in my thought life, I am distracted all day by whatever is loud, whatever is urgent, whatever is convenient, whatever is flashy, whatever is on sale, whatever happens to be in front of my eyes. At the end of the day, I am no closer to the God of peace than I was when I began.
A home liturgy can be useful for re-orienting myself and my family to more eternal themes throughout the day. Daily rhythms of reflection, confession, and thanksgiving remind us that we are made for more than “the changes and chances of this fleeting world”; they re-awaken us to our place in a story that is greater than our little time and space.
On a larger scale, observing the liturgical calendar can serve the same purpose.
“Living inside church time has formed me in Jesus’ story. Jesus drew my attention to himself, and the church calendar has kept it fixed there–on him. Church time has offered me the chance to reprise and reiterate Jesus’ life every year…[Church time] will connect you with Jesus’s life, and it will connect you with a calendar that has been inhabited by faithful Christians for many centuries. It will supply you with quite and answer to the question, ‘What time is it?’” (Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God)
Our seasons and holidays are defined for us by school calendars, sports seasons, tax schedules, the greeting card industry, our national celebrations, and the Farmer’s Almanac. Some days stand out as sacred because of our memories and associations– birthdays, anniversaries, memories of personal triumph or tragedy.
In the Old Testament, God gave his people yearly celebrations to help them remember their identity in relation to Him. Annual celebrations were occasions to remember the way God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, his provision for them in the wilderness, or his deliverance of the Jews through the courage of Queen Esther.
As Christians, we too have been rescued, sustained, and preserved through the person and work of Jesus. Observing the seasons and holidays of the liturgical year helps us to orient all of our other celebrations into the context of story much greater than our families, our government, our shopping seasons, our national history.
Our daily and yearly rhythms shape our affections and attentions. The calendar itself can be a way of communicating to ourselves and to our families that we find our greatest meaning in the context of Jesus’s redeeming work on the cross and by our identification with his church.
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