November 27 marks the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the Christian year. Liturgical seasons, especially Advent, are becoming more popular in some traditions that have historically neglected them. Observers weigh in on whether they observe the calendar.
"It serves as a primer on how to cover all the bases in a year. I see it like your doctor saying, 'Here are the things you need to be healthy: eating, diet, exercise, and rest.' We need to have some structure through each part of the year."
Steven Meriwether, pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee
"It roots us in ancient Christian tradition while at the same time being relevant to the 21st century. Following the liturgical calendar connects us to the larger body of Christ and deepens our spiritual practices as we remember important aspects of the faith."
Winfield Bevins, pastor, Church of the Outer Banks (Acts 29 Network), Nags Head, North Carolina; author of Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith (Nav Press 2011)
"A church's program of preaching and teaching needs to have a 'prophetic' angle with regard to the church, with the leadership discerning which topics and sections of Scripture are most needed at particular times. Close observance of a liturgical pattern does not allow room for that."
Tim Ward, rector, Holy Trinity Hinckley, United Kingdom (Church of England)
"Every Lord's Day we gather as a people to celebrate the work of our risen Lord. Because Jesus came in the flesh, died in our place, and rose from the grave, every Sunday is like Easter and Christmas. Every Sunday I hope the storyline of our service is the Good News of Jesus Christ."
Travis Cardwell, pastor, Baptist Church of the Redeemer, Missouri City, Texas
"I've been around the church a long time and never heard the word used. The liturgical calendar is not at the forefront of what we're trying to accomplish. I've never heard a person say anything negative about it; it's just not mentioned."
Paul Helbig, teaching pastor, Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church, Katy, Texas
"If I saw instruction in the New Testament that Christians should observe celebrations at certain times, or thought New Testament evidence reflected a pattern of the early Christians doing so, I would adopt it. The only calendrical pattern I see is the weekly celebration of the Lord's Day."
Jim Hamilton, pastor, Kenwood Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous Christianity Today articles about the liturgical calendar and dates within it include:
More Important Than Christmas? | Why pro-life Protestants don't say much about the Annunciation—or the unborn Jesus. (March 25, 2010)
The Real Twelve Days of Christmas | Celebrating Christ's birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season. (December 1, 2004)
Christian History Corner: The Other Holy Day | In the rush toward Good Friday and Easter, don't forget Maundy Thursday. (March 1, 2002)
Previous topics for discussion include pastors and marriage for cohabitating couples, church disruptions, politicians and infidelity, politicians and religious persecution, faith healing and legal protection, pastors' housing allowances, sacred spaces, stinginess, TSA screening, and Christmas carols with questionable theology.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.