Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Most of the world celebrates it by dressing in green and getting drunk on green beer.
The church celebrates by reflecting on the life of one of God’s choice servants, pioneer missionary to the Irish, St. Patrick. Tonight my wife is making a potato soup and Irish soda bread. We’re going to read a brief biography of Patrick written by Michael Haykin (found here) and listen to Steve Bell’s “The Lorica” from his Devotion CD based on the “Breastplate” prayer attributed to Patrick (found here).
But, I have a question.
My question is not for the unsaved world taking something Christian and twisting it to their own ends. They do that quite well and it is completely understandable that they do.
My question is for Christians.
Why do you celebrate one man or one day and not another on the church calendar? I am specifically talking to non-liturgical churches who do not follow the church calendar. Why celebrate St. Patrick on March 17 and not St. Nicholas Day on December 6? Is he not worthy to be honourerd and remembered among the saints? Why celebrate Easter Sunday but not Ash Wednesday? Why the arbitrary adoption of some of the church calendar and not others? The reality is that like the Jews of old, the church has structured the calendar around feasts and celebrations. Why not continue to do so?
I have a couple of suggestions as to the importance of utilizing the church calendar and calendar of saints in our non-liturgical churches and family worship times.
1) Utilizing the Church calendar brings order to our often crazy lives both in and outside the church. The reality is, we structure everything we do in life by the calendar, why not the church? Why not use a calendar to guide our thinking and our focus each season? This would bring much needed order to many non-liturgical churches particularly in their preaching.
2) Utilizing the Church calendar helps to focus on key elements about our faith. Beyond celebrating just the birth (Christmas) and the death (Easter) of our Lord and Saviour other seasons continue to help us in our understanding of the faith. Both Advent and Lent serve as a valuable preparation time for the important Christmas and Easter season in the church so just does not come upon us. We are preparing our hearts for weeks in advance.
These are just two things that come to mind. Now, mind you, I’m not out there to fully adopt the church calendar at this stage, I’m just thinking through the value of its use. Do you have any thoughts about the value or detriment of utilizing the church calendar? I would love to discuss this with you!