Happy new year, church! No! I realize it is not January 1st ... that's the secular new year. However, the church new year actually started yesterday with the first Sunday in Advent. It's a little confusing, I know. I've always though it would be much easier to make the two new year's coincide? It's VERY confusing, to me, actually. I've struggled with this since seminary, where I learned that the oldest celebration of New Year's was actually in Babylon around 4000 years ago! If I recall correctly, the Babylonian year actually began with the first full moon after the Equinox (first day of Spring) or sometime in March. And, that makes sense to me! Right? Spring = new beginnings/fresh growth, afterall!
This tradition of celebration a new year continued into the Roman Empire. But somewhere along the line, the Romans decided it would be better to syncronize the calendar with the sun and various emporers began changing dates around. This tampering continued until sometme around 45BC or 50BC, when Julius Caesar established the "Julian calendar." Caesar moved the new year date back to January 1st, where it remains today. He actually did this to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looked backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. As Christianity spread, often Christians and, especially, the Catholic church were hesitant (and even at times forbidden) to celebrate new year's because they thought it to be a pagan tradiaiton.
So, clearly, the liturgical (church) year and the calendar (world) year don't quite match up in thier cylce. The bottom line is they don't match up because the purpose of the Liturgical Year Calendar is not to mark the passage of time as is the purpose of the calendar. The liturgical / church calendar is meant to enable us Christians to celebrate and understand more fully the entire mystery of Jesus Christ, from His incarnation and birth until His ascension, and the expectation of his return in glory.
So really, this beginning of the liturgical calendar is very important! My favoirite liturgical calendar seasons are Advent and Lent!
Advent is the special 4 weeks just before Christmas. The purpose of Advent is is to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Jesus' birth. I don't know about you but I find it awfully hard, sometimes, to remember the real reason for the season! The world's view of Christmas is certainly different from the church's! That's why we had our Advent Adventure yesterday afternoon ... to help us understand Advent and get ready for Christmas! I'm so thankful for those who helped get ready and plan the event, for those who donated items, and for those who coordinated the stations/activiites. It was attended by many church members, youth, and children and we had a great time beginning to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
There are many other events happening during Advent to help us prepare for Christmas. I hope you and your families will come and be a part of some of these great events:
*The Purpose of Christmas Bible study (by Rick Warren)- this one is mostly for adults but senior high youth are also welcome! The group will meet on Wednesday nights from 6:30pm-7:30pm in the cathedral room.
*Advent worship services - meet Pastor Tim each Sunday in Advent at 6:30pm for inspiring worship
*Christmas Cantata - Sunday, December 5th. Music starts at 10:15am.
*Senior high youth group going to see "This Man Called Jesus" at Lake Murray Baptist church this Sunday, December 5th. Meet after the Cantata in the narthex. Bring $ for lunch!
*Children/youth Christmas play - 6:00pm on Sunday, December 12th. We'll be practicing on Sudnays and Wednesdays! Come be in it!! There are a few speaking parts left.
*Walk of the Maji Experience - for mid and senior high students on Wednesday, December 15th (6:30pm-7:30pm)
*Youth Christmas Party, Caroling, and Progressive Dinner - Sunday, December 19th for mid and senior highs!
I love this time of year. Always have, always will. Thanks for sharing in it and preparing for Christmas with me!