A Musing about Calendars
I think I made a mistake.
Now that is not all that surprising. In fact, if I were to ask you all we could probably come up with an extensive list of my mistakes. However, the mistake I made was failing to wish you a Happy New Year.
Now perhaps you are thinking that I have lost my mind. Because on our calendar, which is known as the Gregorian calendar, we have a few more weeks before it is 2022. However, the church calendar, or the liturgical calendar, begins with Advent. After Advent and Christmas, there follow the seasons of Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. After that we enter into what is called Ordinary Time, which is simply the season after Pentecost until Advent rolls around again.
Of course, both of these calendars are human constructs. How we decide to divide up the 365 days it takes the earth to go around the sun is arbitrary to human whims, and not all cultures have followed the same calendar. In fact, the Gregorian calendar was not widely used until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII proclaimed its use as a revision of the Julian calendar. And this calendar was not adopted in Great Britain and the American colonies until 1752.
Also, the liturgical seasons have changed over time. Now Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost were celebrated by even the early church as these Holy Days coincide with Passover. However, other seasons in the liturgical calendar have been added over the centuries. Most notably among these are the seasons we are currently celebrating — Advent and Christmas.
Historians tell us that the first mention of Advent was not until 336 AD, and the exact dates of the celebration and even its length have changed over the centuries.
While the human way we measure the year is subject to change, God’s natural order of seasons following one after the other remains consistent, which as I have gotten older is a comfort. From the cold of winter to the thawing of the land and new birth of Spring the world cycles onward; then the summer sun with its long days, hot sun, and surprising summer breezes when evening bring lightening bugs and sudden summer gully washers give way to autumn with its cool mornings, changing leaves and harvest moon, God’s world continues, season to season and year to year.
The same is true with the church seasons, because while they cycle on over and over, they return with new joy even if they are the same old stories.
Part of what made me think of this is a song by Davd M. Bailey. David was a singer-songwriter who outlived his original brain cancer diagnosis that gave him less than 6 months to live by nearly 15 years.
During that time, he followed his dream, changing careers and traveling the country singing for audiences across the world.
One of my favorite songs is entitled “Angel in the Attic.”
The lyrics are as follows.
It’s Christmas time again Feels like an old familiar friend The angel on the tree Is looking down at me
She's been sleeping in the attic for a year now Waiting for this day to arrive She’s only got a short while to shine her light Just like us, gotta shine while you're alive
It’s Christmas time again Feels like an old familiar friend There's music in the air Songs are everywhere
They've been left alone in silence for a year now Waiting for somebody to sing They haven't changed a note since the last time they played Not like us, look at what a year can bring
It's Christmas time again Feels like an old familiar friend Gifts beneath the tree Hope there is one for me
And that baby we’re all here to remember The reason that the angel sings her song Well the angel's gonna fly away when the song is over But that baby will be with you all year long
It's Christmas time again So good to have a friend Emanuel.
Friends, the seasons come and go but our God remains.
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Our Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
We have the promise of Emanuel—God with us.
Our call is to shine during the seasons of our life so that just like the angel on the tree at Christmas, we can proclaim the good news of Jesus all our days.
May we indeed celebrate the Christ child both in this season and every season to follow.
Here is a link to David’s song which I hope you enjoy as much as I do.