By Amanda Jenkins
Faculty, College of Theology
Although Phoenix stays warm most of the year, the swing of the academic calendar has clued us into the reality that we are steadily moving towards our end of the semester and unbearable heat. Calendars often control our lives whether it is appointment reminders buzzing on our cell phones, holidays that have family expectations or due dates for projects that push and pull us in different directions.
On a practical level, we understand that these calendar reminders are more than the day or the hour but hold implications in our lives. These implications can vary from job interviews that hold possibilities to redirect our future, to first dates that can lead us into a relationship that will form and shape us. In the tradition of Christianity, we have calendars that have been passed along throughout church history. These calendars are not salvific, meaning that they do not grant salvation in any way, but they can serve as reminders which have the possibility to redirect our future forming and shaping us.
In the Christian tradition, the two major holy days are Christmas and Easter. We recognize that Christmas marks a time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and Easter marks a time to remember his death and resurrection. In the Christian calendar, we revolve our year around these two events because our religion is built upon the belief that God became man through a virgin birth, lived a perfect life, died an undeserved death and defeated death by resurrecting from the grave. This takes place so that sinful humanity could be made right with a holy God.
These holy days have holy seasons which precede them. Advent is the four-week season preceding Christmas where we prepare our hearts for the reality that God became man for us. This reality of the birth of Jesus Christ has changed the trajectory of salvation history and if we are a Christian it changes the trajectory of our lives.
As we approach Good Friday and Easter, it makes sense to have a time to prepare our hearts and imitate Christ’s example of sacrifice. This is what the Christian calendar recognizes as the holy season of Lent. In the Christian worldview, we believe that Jesus Christ is of fundamental importance, so it makes sense that his death and resurrection should have an impact on us. In the Christian calendar, Lent is the six weeks or 40 days (not counting Sundays), starting on Ash Wednesday leading up to the day before Easter. This is a season where Christians recognize the sacrifice of life for death that Jesus gave for us. In that recognition and appreciation, we give up something. This sacrifice, sometimes referred to as a discipline, does not earn us favor with God, but it can shape our hearts to have more affection for him.
As we move forward with our calendars ringing reminders I pray that we take time not to only mark down life events, but also to take time to mark the event that the Christian Worldview believes grants eternal life. Easter is a holy day, but this day was never meant to be seen in isolation. The death of Jesus Christ was the culmination of his holy life and his resurrection marks the culmination of death’s defeat on the cross. I pray that when we celebrate holy days they will be seen as a culmination that reflects our holy lives.
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