Dear Friends,

Seeing how Christians did things many years ago can sometimes reveal how “modern Canadian” we are. The Bible teaches that Christ-followers are to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world. (A summary of teaching, not a Bible quote – see John 15:19; John 17:14-19; Romans 12: 2; 1 Corinthians 5: 9-10; 1 John 2:15) We are to be formed by the Gospel and the whole counsel of God. But we are to live in Canada becoming godly and bearing witness to the Gospel. But, we can become “of” the world, with our culture forming our thoughts and affections.

This leads me to two observations about how “Canadian” we are.

First, many Canadian Christians find the idea of a “liturgical year” just wrong or “merely antiquarian” or “being religiously out-of-touch”. Now, I admit that many Christians who follow the liturgical year are guilty as charged. They like it because it is odd or old. They like it because it is “just the way we do things.” However, the practice of the liturgical year can also be seen as an attempt to take “Jesus is Lord” seriously. “What?”, you ask. Well, think about it; how do you grow in knowing Jesus as “Lord of all” when it comes to time? Some things and some persons or institutions are shaping how we live in time. The seasons. The school year and weekends and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Halloween etc. These shape how we live in time. If we live as every Canadian, how is Jesus my Lord when it comes to time? “Long-ago” Christians slowly developed the idea of a “liturgical year” as a way to combat the world “squeezing us into its mold.” So key moments in the life of Jesus, key biblical figures and key doctrines are what structure the year. This is on top of the weekly keeping of the Sabbath and daily devotions which also shape time.

Second, to think about how Canadian we have become, think of how we would follow up Christmas if we were developing a liturgical year. First of all, we’d want at least two weeks off of thinking about things. Then, if we had to have some things to remember/celebrate, we might add a “Family Day” or a “Financial Giving Day” or an “Anti-Consumerism Day” You can come up with your own list. What did “long-ago” Christians develop? In the seven days after Christmas, apart from “the Sunday after Christmas” with more Christmas readings, the “long-ago”
Christians came up with four days of remembrance.

First up is St. Stephen’s Day (December 26). Right after Christmas we are invited to remember the first Christian martyr. Remember martyrdom! Next up is “St John the Evangelist” on December 27. This is referring to John, the beloved disciple and author of The Gospel of John, 1, 2 and 3 John and the book of Revelation. Remember the Bible and its doctrine! Next up is “The Holy Innocents” on December 28 – a remembrance of all the Jewish babies slaughtered by King Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus. Finally is New Year’s Day – but what is remembered is not New Year’s day, but the fact that on this day Jesus was circumcised.

I don’t know about you, but I think I can learn good things from “long-ago”

George +