Do Christians Need To Observe The Church Calendar?
This year in January, the Chinese celebrated two “new years”. One
would bring to mind the various customs practised during the Chinese New
Year, including reunion dinners, visiting relatives, tossing the
prosperity salad (“yu sheng”). These customs signify that we embrace the
Chinese traditions. The calendar or festivals recorded in the Bible,
not only directly represent encounters between God and man, but also the
identity of the Christian body of faith. In other words, as a body of
faith, if we are not clear about our own calendar or festivals, it is an
indication to others, that we do not understand our own identity and
the origins of our faith.
We observe the church calendar not simply to preserve our traditions but because it tells us who we are and who we belong to.
Why Do We Need Lent?
The Lent season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on the eve of Good
Friday, making a total of 40 days (excluding 6 Sundays). The origin of
this period of 40 days can be found in the period of time when Jesus,
after being baptised by John The Baptist, retreated to the wilderness,
in fasting, and resisted Satan’s three temptations involving tests of
physical food, power and Jesus’ trust in God. Before His resurrection,
Jesus endured much suffering and trials, which is an important theme in
Lent is an important spiritual exercise in our Christian journey.
This exercise helps us to learn to accept our circumstances; learn
that, through intimacy with Christ, we have the ability to endure
hardship, be patient and to wait upon the Lord, with unwavering belief
that the Lord is our help.
What Does Lent Mean To Christians Today?
When we share the gospel, if we only focus on how a believer can
receive the blessings of eternal life, and place less emphasis on
explaining how God’s children should experience spiritual progress,
trials and accept the price of being God’s disciples, then, we would
have over-emphasized on the result as opposed to the spiritual journey.
This is not completely in line with our faith.
In current times, many speak of Christ’s victory instead of His
suffering; there is an over-emphasis on His grace, and less emphasis on
our acts of response. This trend has inevitably caused a lot of modern
day churches to resist the church calendar, thinking that the church
calendar is not crucial.
In fact, we are not promoting the observance of the church calendar,
we are instead promoting the life of Christ: Let the life of Christ on
earth be a guide to our spiritual journey. Let the pulse of His life be
the pulse of our lives. In this season of Lent, through God’s word,
through prayer, through fasting, through giving and through charitable
works, Christians should practise the presence of Jesus, so that our
faith can be manifested in our lives.
When we accept Jesus’ invitation, when we willingly and
deliberately practise His presence, we will live life, embracing joy,
sorrow, freedom and responsibility, just as how Christ lived His life on
Note: If you wish to know more about Lent, please refer to the church bulletin after 23rd February.
Rev Chua Ooi Suah