Holidays and the Church Calendar

In post entitled, “Earth Day or Easter, Mother’s Day or Pentecost,” Trevin Wax examines how we celebrate holidays in church and even plan worship around them.  Wax notes that we are often more enthusiastic about celebrating secular holidays unique to our culture than important dates on the church calendar.  He writes,

Every church has a calendar. Whether the church chooses to follow the traditional calendar of the Church and preach according to the readings in a lectionary does not change the fact that every church has a way of ordering time.

The question is not, Will we follow a calendar? but Whose calendar will we follow? In other words, does our church’s ordering of time follow the wisdom of the ancient church or the whims of the consumerist American culture?

Many of our churches have a list of unofficial celebrations that order our congregational time.

  • New Year’s Day.
  • Valentine’s Day.
  • Mother’s Day.
  • Father’s Day.
  • Fourth of July.
  • Memorial Day.
  • Halloween.
  • Veteran’s Day.

By rejecting the traditional church calendar, we did not reduce the number of our celebrations; we merely replaced them with the celebrations of the culture at large.

Granted, churches do well to emphasize many of these celebrations. We can benefit from using the cultural opportunity to speak to the biblical vision of motherhood and fatherhood, etc.

But we should be willing to listen to the tough questions from those outside our culture about what our church calendars represent.

Why should the consumerist culture of the United States dictate what we celebrate as a church?

Why is it that so many American churches celebrate with great fanfare the birth of their nation (July 4) without even so much as mentioning the birth of the church (Pentecost)?

Does the way we order our time shape us as the unique, called-out people of God or merely reinforce our nationalist, consumer-shaped identity? (Emphasis mine)

It’s an older article but one worth reading.  We really do need to ask ourselves how much we have allowed the culture to drive worship.


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