THE CHURCH CALENDAR: History Ignored By Mahaney and Others

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“This moment contains all moments.” C.S. Lewis


Many of us who were raised in liturgical based churches were accustomed to seeing information like the following, written in our bulletins: “Today is Pentecost Sunday.” Most of us yawned and checked our watches to see how much time was left in the service.

Today, many of us attend “hip” churches with rock bands featuring contemporary music and pastor “dudes” who deliver clever sermons on “cool” subjects. Pentecost Sunday is not acknowledged because there is something cleverer to discuss.

Then, others of us attend very serious churches (a la “Sovereign Grace Ministries”) where sermons revolve around how terribly sinful we all are and how obeying “pastor athletes” who have gotten next to no education will help us achieve an obedient Christian life that will please “the Savior”.  How these pastors have overcome their own “worst sinner in the world” status so that they can direct the rest of us stupid, sinful sheep is NEVER explained. In these churches congregants all stand at the foot of the Cross where Jesus is left hanging and screaming — you know, “the scream of the damned.”

Then, there are the snarky atheists who think they are very clever. Every year, sometime around Christmas, some “obviously intelligent” atheist will call a talk show or write in to the local newspaper observing the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25th and that the date is really celebrating Winter Solstice or some other pagan date.

Yours truly frequently bangs her head against the wall because all three groups have only got a “part” of the truth. Mahaney and others who claim to “study” (or Google) church history are missing the intent of the early church leaders.

The nation of Israel celebrated its history around the events of the Exodus and Passover. All of their celebrations and sacrifices were types and shadows of the Messiah who would come to save His people. Once Jesus returned to “sit at the right hand of God the Father”, the church turned to remembrances of the life of Jesus.

The Christian church decided it would be important to remember some of the significant events in the life of Jesus and developed a calendar to provide reminders throughout the year. “This calendar provides a regular and systematic review of who Jesus is, what he teaches, and how we can live our lives with eternal purpose. It helps us form a world-view that is Christ centered and to progress through the year with a sense of kingdom purpose and eye on eternity”.


The early church clearly wanted us to remember the totality of Jesus. The calendar centered on the Passover week along with His death and resurrection. There are many theories as to the selection of December as the time of Advent. Some say it was traditionally thought this was the time of His conception. Others claim that it was a way for the church to counter the pagan celebration of the solstice. December 25 was never thought to be the date of His birth.

Here are some of the significant dates on the calendar. We use the years of 2009-2010

November 22- Christ the King Sunday- Christ is embraced as the king of all of the cosmos and that we must submit to Him as our King.

November 29-December 24- Advent -This reminds us of Christ’s first Advent, His birth, and also causes us to think of the Second Advent, or His coming again.

December 25-January 5 Christmas- We celebrate His birth and remember that, just as He came to the whole world, we must take His message to the whole world.

January 6-February 15-Epiphany and Ordinary Time until Lent- The epiphany is a celebration of the coming of the wise men. It causes us to rejoice that God sent the star to announce to the world the birth of His Son.

February 16-Shrove Tuesday- A special time of confession of ones sins in preparation for the lengthy reflection of Lent.

February 17-April 3 Lent-(means spring) Season of soul searching and repentance which ends Maundy Thursday. This recalls the fast of Jesus on the desert and we reflect on our need for the Cross.

March 28-April 3-April -Holy Week

Palm Sunday- Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Monday-Jesus cleanses the temple by throwing out the moneychangers.

Tuesday-Jesus teaches from the Mount of Olives.

Wednesday-Jesus rests.

Thursday-(Maundy Thursday)-Jesus celebrates the Passover. Maundy is derived from the Latin word “mandatum” which mean command. This is to remember the command that Jesus in John 13:34 which says “Anew command I give you that you love one another. On this day we remember how Jesus washed the disciples feet, thus demonstrating how much He loved His disciples.

Friday-(Good Friday)- Jesus is crucified.

Saturday-Jesus’ body lies dead in the tomb.

April 4-May 22-Easter-Note the long time given to rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord!

May 16-Ascension Sunday-Remembering Christ’s return to heaven after His resurrection.

May 23- Pentecost-Remembering the establishment of the church by the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

May 24-November 27- Ordinary Time- Ordinary time is devoted, on Sundays, to the  mysteries of Christ in all of its aspects. Some churches reflect on the Trinity during this time. Others celebrate Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist.

We think that all churches today would do well to remember the reason for the church calendar. All Scripture is important. If we reflect only on the Cross or only on the Birth, we miss the context and the totality of this wondrous, simple yet complex message contained in the life of our Lord. Lewis said it best. “This moment contains all moments.” As we see the Cross, we see the Resurrection and we look forward to the Second Advent and remember His blessed birth.

To our brothers and sisters who are stuck at the foot of the Cross, we have a life changing message — Jesus rose again and you are now “Free, Free Indeed”. And so we live our Christian lives always remembering the sacrifice, continually confessing and acknowledging our sin, and rejoicing in our forgiveness and the love of our Savior whose name is given by God Almighty — “Jesus Christ”. From what we can tell, the church calendar causes us to reflect on the Cross for about two months. Then, we rejoice in the Resurrection for two months. If your church doesn’t reflect this “fair and balanced” approach, then we strongly suggest you find a church that does.

For our friends who have had enough of “indwelling sin”, we send you a website that is the home of The Fellowship of Merry Christians. Remember, our Lord invented merriment and laughter. (

We leave you with this joyful quote by C.S. Lewis.

“I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to “rejoice” as much as by anything else.”



THE CHURCH CALENDAR: History Ignored By Mahaney and Others — 13 Comments

  1. Just to let you know, you have a spammer on the Pagan Christianity book review thread. You’ll want to ban via IP address if that’s possible. You can delete this once you’ve read it.

  2. Pingback: Our King Complex

  3. SAdly lacking in many Christian’s education are those PROTESTANTS who were persecuted by the Reformers. (That history has been horribly rewritten by the victor reformed state church).

    Reading the history of the Anabaptist movement (They were not monolithic nor organized) is very interesting and an eye opener.

    A great book to start is Leonard Verduin’s “The Stepchildren of the Reformation”. Written back in the 1950’s with a research grant from the Calvin Foundation. What many do not realize is that many personal letters and documents were NOT accessbile until after WW2. That was when most monarchies of Europe were finally gone or totally out of power with the last vestages of the state church and the archives opened up.

  4. WE know. We may need to moderate comments for awhile which usually eliminate the problem but we hate to go in this direction. The spammers are not from one address. There are 100s of them so doing it via address may be in vain. We plan to address this in the next couple of days. Thank you sooo much for your help.

  5. Thanks for the reading suggestion. I was aware of the terrible history of the Reformers and the Anabaptists and the abuse that occurred. Sometimes history is only told from the perspective of the victors. Anyone ever tell you how well read and smart you are?

  6. Thanks, Dee. It is amazing how public education has ignored the fact that most history is church/state history. And it says alot about who we are now and why we do the things we do. We bring more tradition into it than we like to admit.

    Then, we can note that some seminaries actually rewrite church state history or omit quite a bit depending on their slant. (Some claiming that all Anabaptists were of the Munster stripe. Not true at all)

    What is even more amazing is that one can pick up more truths from secular history about those periods in time (and the leaders) than from the official writings of the church or those who defend the church.

    I would have never known what a creep John Knox was except for secular history. The reformed writings made him out to be a big hero when the man was involved in plotting murder and even writing sermons to show why it was ok to do so. Then in his 50’s, he marries a 17 year old. Even his followers had a problem with that.

  7. There is basis for a calendar honoring….Oskar Skarsone notes that Russurection Sunday always fell in alliance with Passover…two years ago Passover fell a month after the Gregorian calendar of Easter. On a interesting note Purim is coming up this next weekend…this has significance to the Christian and the end times. Study it in depth and you will see the types.

  8. Nazarenes were punished in holding to the Jewish calendar by follow up councils after the Nicean.

  9. Kudos to Dee who has been “minding the store” while my husband, daughter, and I took a quick trip to our farm last night and then a side trip to Edenton today. My daughter gathered information and took photos for a power point presentation on the Chowan River which she will present in her high school ecology class. The Chowan River empties into the Albermarle Sound at Edenton. This historic, quaint town in North Carolina has a beautiful waterfront and is definitely worth visiting!

    Tonight my husband and I traveled to UNC-Chapel Hill where our older daughter participated in the 12th annual UNC Dance Marathon – a fundraiser benefitting the children of UNC Hospital. At 7:30 last night around 1,600 college students gathered in Fetzer Gym and committed to standing on their feet for 24 hours straight! To pass the time, they danced, played basketball and other games, ate, etc. At 7:30 tonight they announced how much money had been raised from a year’s worth of fundraising, culminating with this Dance Marathon (each participant was supposed to raise at least $150). The total money raised to benefit the children at UNC Hospital was nearly $422,000! Now that’s what I call “doing a hard thing”! These college students are passionate about giving back to their community.

    Sorry about the spam, folks. As we have said several times, we are technopeasants. Technology is NOT our area of expertise, but we’re learning slowly but surely.

    Thanks for all your comments. I believe we are having a healthy, productive discussion on some very important “faith” issues.