Liturgical Calendar a Gospel Focus


It is Lundi Gras and this Wednesday believers around the world will begin 40 days of fasting and intense lament worship. For my family, we find the liturgical calendar to be one of the most treasured Christian traditions. As a liturgical Baptist now living in a non-liturgical area, I am asked why should we practice the liturgical calendar corporately? Here are a few reasons why.

  1. As Believers, we should practice Holydays not Holidays. 

For many American churches, the yearly calendar will have: mothers-day, fathers-day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I have often wondered why we worship humanity in church? (Christmas and Easter aside) Are we not called to worship the God of creation, our savior Jesus? Don’t get me wrong, I love having a Crawfish boil on July 4th, but this date has nothing to do with the Christian story, and neither do fond remembrances of mom, dad, or pilgrims. While these are great days to celebrate people, it does seem rather synchronistic to do this in the house of God. The liturgical calendar helps us realize the focus of our faith should be in Christ Alone. 

  1. As Believers, our lives should depict the Christian Story. 

If your life is like the majority of Americans,  your year is divided into semesters, work schedules, tax time and athletic seasons. The liturgical calendar can help us choose a gospel-centered calendar to maintain our first allegiance to Christ and his kingdom. Maybe instead of crying “keep Christ in Christmas,” we should keep Christ in the whole year?

  1. As Believers, the symbology helps teach others. 

One of my favorite things to do is to teach the liturgy and ritual behind the Jewish holydays (like passover, and pentecost). I am always amazed how many believers have no clue the pertinence behind the holydays as recorded in the New Testament. To that end, the liturgical calendar offers us the opportunity to ensure that all believers know the background behind our holydays. Even the vestments (colors) within the sanctuary offer us the chance to appropriately call believers to worship in a certain emotional mindset.

  1. As Believers, we should not have stagnant worship. 

Having attended loads of churches, and worked for nearly a dozen as a minister, I sadly could predict the flow and tenor of worship, because there was zero change. Don’t get me wrong, the object of our worship never change, but a never changing worship pattern may be at the heart of parishioner boredom and lack luster desire for being in corporate worship. Thus, I submit that the liturgical calendar allows Christians the opportunity to reflect on all the feelings and all the events in the Gospel story! As someone once put it,

We need the anticipation of Advent to truly recognize the miracle of Christmas. We need to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, sing along with the heavenly host, and be without shelter in Bethlehem, before we hear the cry of the Word become flesh. We need to walk with Christ for those 40 days, see him ride into Jerusalem over the path of palm branches, dine with him in the upper room, fall asleep in the garden, and feel the hammer locked in our palm’s grip as the nails pierce our Savior’s body. Yes, we are an Easter people, but Easter doesn’t happen without the terror and anguish of the week before. It’s time to forsake the supreme quest for the Hollywood ending, and be willing to put off the unbridled excitement for our own edification.

  1. As Believers, we must remember the CHURCH. 

For me the greatest reason to practice the liturgical calendar is the reality that the CHURCH is more historic and global than the local parish that I attend. We are part of a long faith tradition, which has observed the Christian calendar in one form or another practically since the actual events themselves. When I would lead Communion (Eucharist for some) I would delight in knowing that millions of believers around the world were doing the exact same thing that morning. Likewise, when I begin Lent with ash Wednesday I find great comfort in practicing a season of lament with millions of believers around the world. (Side note: Lament is the least practiced mode of worship which the Psalter calls us to!) By focusing on our role within the CHURCH global, we can confront personal agendas espoused by so many “famous” preachers today. The church should not be personality driven, but rather Gospel driven. The liturgical calendar serves as a “check and balance” to the personality driven norm. I have nothing against sermon series, but if not properly checked these can lead to a type pastor-idol-worship.

  1. As Believers, we should disciple younger believers. 

Friends of mine have often wondered how the early church discipled believers without Lifeway or the Navigator press. I am always astounded by such confusion because the early church handed us two key tools for discipleship: the creeds and the calendar. If all believers were to memorize the creeds and study the Word of God yearly as the calendar leads us to there wouldn’t be a need for modern discipleship materials. While churches everywhere are creating the latest and greatest discipleship program, the best option might be older than all the rest.


I encourage you to consider the liturgical calendar for your personal walk and your congregations benefit! Here’s a couple books to read along these same lines.


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