Ersatz sacred calendar

Man is a time-keeping creature.

We make time, mark time, keep time, and (occasionally) do time. It’s in our very nature from Creation, when God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1.14). Humans live by the rhythm of time; it is part of how we exist meaningfully from day to day.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]The sacred calendar is a continual reminder that time is moving toward its fulfillment.[/su_pullquote]The sacred calendar of the Church Year joins this innate, God-given impulse to mark time with “God’s purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1.10).

The Church Year infuses our days and months and seasons with the significance of God’s coming kingdom.

This is the time of year we’re most aware of the movement of the Church Year.


We are in the midst of Lent, wending our way with Christ to Calvary. Soon we will come upon Holy Week, when each days hangs heavy with our Lord’s passion, like a fruit-laden limb.

As we approach the sacred Triduum (“Three Days”) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, time nearly slows to a stop—what T.S. Eliot called “the still point of the turning world.”

As Christians, our sacred calendar is a continual reminder that time is moving toward its fulfillment, the end of time, when our Lord Jesus will return.

The world, however, has abandoned the Christian story. It no longer lives by the rhythms of Advent and Lent, Epiphany and Pentecost. Christmas and Easter still play a cultural role, to be sure, but they are almost wholly emptied of their Christian meaning. Now, they’re more like the leftover pulp of a juiced lemon.

And yet, still we are time-marking creatures.

Still, we hunger for our days to be filled with meaning. Thus, the ersatz sacred calendar of our culture.

You know what I’m talking about if you use Google as your search engine. Nearly every day Google has its appointed “holy day” that it features; for instance, today it’s the 105th birthday of Clara Rockmore (I do not know who this person is).

I will resist the temptation to riff on how Google has become the High Priest of our age. Suffice it to say what they provide with their daily doodle is some sort of replacement calendar.

Or consider the phenomenon of ” ________ Day,” with nearly every date—if not every date—on the calendar spoken for. Just this week there was International Women’s Day, National Cereal Day (soon followed by the seemingly redundant National Breakfast Day), and HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

This is to say nothing of Throwback Thursday, Motivation Monday, and their ilk. The ersatz sacred calendar is all around us.

We are time-marking creatures.

God made us that way, and has invested our days with the glorious anticipation of expectant parents. For each and every day we await the birth of a new creation, where there will be “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21.23).

Until that day, let us live by the rhythms of the Church Year. Let us keep time with God’s time.

Categories: Pastor's Blog