November 19, 2013

Why the Church Calendar? I'm not in love with all things old. I don't think then is better than now. I'm not trying to get back to how things were. My journey in learning about the liturgy and the liturgical year is not about nostalgia; it's about spiritual formation. The people who wrote some of the best liturgical prayers-- from John Chrysostom (The Eastern Orthodox's "Divine Liturgy") in the 4th century to Thomas Cranmer in the 17th century (Anglican Book of Common Prayer)-- were passionate followers of Christ and diligent scholars of the Scriptures and of theology. When the seasons of the church calendar-- or the "Christian Year" or the "liturgical year"-- developed, it developed as way to aid in the spiritual formation of those who sought to follow Christ. Easter was the first church-wide event to commerate. (One could say the first Christians began celebrating the resurrection the very next Sunday after Christ's ascension as a "mini-Easter.") Lent was the earliest actual season to develop and be adopted by the church world-wide. It became a common Christian practice in AD 330, shortly after Christianity had been legalized in AD 313 at the Edict of Milan. The other seasons of the Church year (like Pentecost, Advent and Christmas) took shape later. By the High Middle Ages, the Church Year was fully developed, complete with special feast days for certain saints. But why? Why was this developed? Why would anyone today practice these things? To say it simply, the liturgical year was developed as a way to help the spiritual formation of Christians. How does it do that? Here are two main ways: 1. It Centers Us On Christ As Christianity spread, many of the Church's members (and for a time in the early Middle Ages, many of its clergy!) were illiterate and ignorant of...
"The Importance of C. S. Lewis"-- from Alister McGrath Fifty years ago, today, C. S. Lewis passed from the Shadowlands to the realm of glory. While many of his contemporaries thought his work would fade in its influence shortly after, the opposite occured. His books-- both fiction and non-fiction-- have made an indelible mark on Christianity. To commemorate his life and legacy, a headstone is being installed in the famous "Poet's Corner" in Westminister Abbey, a profound honor. Additionally, several new books have released this year, most notably Alister McGrath's new biography of Lewis. Here is a brief video of McGrath's chapel talk at Wheaton College earlier this year: Summary of McGrath's main points: 1. Lewis taught the importance of STORY 2. Lewis taught the importance of TRANSLATION 3. Lewis taught the importance of GRACE ------------------------- Other C. S. Lewis resources of interest: For a unique memoir of Lewis's imagination, seen through the lens of Narnia, this book from Alan Jacobs is matchless. For those who've never read Lewis before, The Great Divorce or The Screwtape Letters might be excellent places to start. Yes, the Chronicles of Narnia are children's books, but make no mistake, you'll get more from them as an adult than a child will. This was, of course, Lewis's test of good children's fiction: that a 'child' of all ages could read and enjoy it! My favorite of the Narnia books are: The Last Battle, The Magician's Nephew, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in that order. Oh, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn't bad either. :)

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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