Counting Days and Making Them Count Until Jesus Comes
The Church’s calendar or Christian calendar exists so that we might purposefully celebrate the life of Jesus. As His disciples, we order our lives around the pivotal moments in the life of Jesus: His birth, His baptism, His temptation and suffering, His death, His burial, His bodily resurrection, His ascending into heaven, His sending the Holy Spirit to us. The calendar of our lives should revolve around the calendar the Church has observed since the time of Moses. It is now different from the time of Moses because Jesus has fulfilled the intentions of the Old Testament feasts. Therefore, the purpose of the Old Testament feasts and the events of the church calendar find their true meaning only in the life of Jesus.
The ordinary season follows the last event of the celebratory season which is Pentecost Sunday. This year, the ordinary season runs from May 26 – November 30, 2013. The emphasis of the ordinary season is Sunday after Sunday worship as we wait upon Christ’s return. Our waiting, however, is active and not passive. There are times of a passive waiting upon God. Usually, this occurs in an individual’s life as he or she seeks God’s specific purpose for the current time of his or her life. But there is a collective or corporate waiting that occurs among the body of Christ as we wait upon Christ’s return. It is an active waiting. Although our “eyes are lifted to the hills from whence shall come our help”, we are active about living the life of Jesus in the world as His disciples. Our hearts are expectantly waiting and our bodies are actively involved in being Jesus’ disciples. Both passive and active waiting are significant in the life of the church and both can be found represented in Sunday worship.
Sunday is the church’s Sabbath. The Sabbath day has its origin in the Genesis account of God creating all that exists. He rests on the seventh day. So, God’s intention for the Sabbath is rest. This is not just for our body and soul. It is good for our bodies to rest and repair and for our soul’s to relax and find peace. But the Sabbath day is prophetic. It acts like a prophet. It points us not just to a day of rest, but a life of rest in Jesus. We must rest from our spiritual striving and working to earn the favor of God and rest in His favor upon Jesus. We find favor with God only through the work and person of Jesus Christ. We must rest to find the peace of God. That’s the purpose of the Sabbath.
Now, the first day of the week is Sunday and the last day of the week is Saturday or Sabbath. We don’t worship on Saturday, but we worship on Sunday which is the first day of the week. This is because the Lord arose on the first day of the week and the church rightly began to meet together for worship on this day. It was right because the Sabbath finds its fulfillment in the life of Jesus. See Hebrews Ch. 4.
The Sabbath day of rest can be found in the Ten Commandments and is a perpetual statute along with the others that is to be observed. (Lev. 16:31). It is perpetual because it is an ongoing witness that eternal life and rest in God’s favor can only be found through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s why we say that each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. And ordinary season is about this Sunday by Sunday worship that reflects a restfully active church that is watching and working and waiting on the return of our Lord.
In the book of Acts, we see Peter and the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. Many, both Jews and Gentiles, repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. During this time, we get a picture of what an actively waiting church looks like as they wait on Jesus’ return:
- They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
- They devoted themselves to fellowship with one another
- They broke bread together or ate together
- They prayed together
- Miracles were performed
- They shared their possessions and met one another’s needs
- They worshipped together at the temple
- They spoke or testified of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead
Those early disciples set a pattern to follow for us modern disciples. Although cultures are different and times change, the simple restful, waiting life of the church remains the same. Although well-organized books by high achieving leaders provide 300 page formulas for following Christ, it seems quite simple and approachable from a few verses in the book of Acts 2. So, in the ordinary season, Sunday by Sunday worship point us to a restful and waiting life among our brothers and sisters in Christ and an active working and witness in the world.
The first day of the ordinary season is Trinity Sunday. Why? The life of the church, her serving and working and preaching and suffering and worshipping is based on the revelation that God has given us of Himself in the persons of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit: three persons, yet one God. Our message to the world of salvation in Jesus alone is Trinitarian by nature. You can only come to the Father through the Son. Only then will you participate in the life of God through His Spirit. As Pastor Walt has spoken, the church speaks to the world through Trinitarian preaching. Therefore, it is appropriate that Trinity Sunday begins the ordinary season.
Other days that we celebrate in the Ordinary Season are All Saints’ Day and Christ the King Sunday. All Saints Day falls on the weekend after Halloween. Halloween is simply a secularization of the historic day of All Saints. All Saints’ Day is a sort of “Memorial Day of the Church” and is a celebration in which we remember “life and witness of God’s people who model a relationship with God for us.” – Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time In our modern time, it is good for us to counter the occult of the world and emphasize the role of present saints, our brothers and sisters, and past saints in our lives. It is good to celebrate the body of Christ rather than the spirit of the world.
And although it isn’t a specifically a Christian Holy Day or holiday, Thanksgiving Day is a day for us to return thanks to for God’s goodness to us, both in body and spirit. Christ the King Sunday ends the ordinary season and acknowledges Jesus’ eternal reign and sovereignty over us and the world as we look forward to his coming again. It is a good segue to Advent and the celebratory season.
So, in the ordinary season at Christ Community Church, find rest for your bodies and souls each Sunday as we worship together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, be active in the church and the world as the early disciples were active. Be active, not frantic. As you live in the peace of Jesus Christ, may your restful activity find its root in the life of Jesus and may you bear much fruit until Jesus gathers us home.