Somewhat Anglican #5: The church year as antidote to Easter eggs in January

eastereggs

Each year, understandably, my Facebook feed lights up with Christians bugged by Easter eggs in January and Christmas trees in October. Living in Australia in the 21st century, our calendar is shaped by commerce and patriotism. Two central Christian seasons, Easter and Christmas, are co-opted by shops as seasons of consumption, with their own products and sales traditions. There are others with some religious connection too – Valentine’s Day and Halloween. To these are added the patriotic celebrations – Australia Day and Anzac Day. There are special ways to consume for these events too, particularly Australia Day, as well as the media solemnising the occasions with wraparound souvenir editions or special reports. We know what season we’re in because of what display Coles has and what ads are playing on the television.

I contend that the free church traditions are missing out on a powerful alternative to the secular calendar in not properly observing the church (or liturgical) year. Most people in the free churches didn’t mark Epiphany last week, and may not even observe Lent or Advent at all. Being somewhat Anglican now, I know what season it is because we celebrate a different phase of Christ’s life with many other churches around the world. The shifts are marked by  distinctive colours in the church and a change in liturgy. I have an antidote to the secular calendar because church is shaping my sense of the year unfolding. It is, week to week, centred on Christ and helps me to live my life with a grounding in Christ’s life.

It needs to be done together like this, the whole church following roughly the same calendar (even if it has to be modified according to denominational differences), because when each church is left to set its own calendar, there is not a strong sense of an alternative to secular time. There’s just an individual church decreeing that January will be the month we do a series on King David and February the month we look at relationships. I call on free churches to give up some of their independence for the sake of the wider church and adopt more fully the church year.

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5 Comments

Filed under Anglicanism, worship

5 responses to “Somewhat Anglican #5: The church year as antidote to Easter eggs in January

  1. Couldn’t agree more – I think the major defect of the free church tradition is the lack of a sacramental understanding which I think underwrites the omission of a church calendar. Having only Sunday is not enough.

    Additionally, I’d argue that the free churches should also agitate for the abolition of Easter and Christmas as public holidays :)

  2. What would happen if they were abolished as public holidays? They would become truly religious events again? I think non-Christians would not be willing to return C and E to the church. :)

    • The concern is not that they would become truly religious events again – but rather that Christians would communicate the message – perhaps – that they should not stand in a relation of privilege over and against those religions (and also atheists) whose own central religious festivals are not enshrined as public holidays.

      After all, why not Orthodox Easter or Ramadan or Passover or HumanLight? None of those days are celebrated as public holidays – only Christian ones alongside nationalist days.

  3. It seems fairly well agreed that the two events have been at least in part coopted from other religions as Christendom’s culture came to dominate, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that another culture* does likewise when itself coming to dominate – by and for similar methods and reasons.

    As for following the church calendar, I’m not sure what I think about all churches getting involved, but certainly every time I’ve come across its elements I’ve been nourished and grateful. Were any church I happen to be attending take on as much of the calendar as can be used to inspire the flow of a year’s activities, I would like that.

    * Materialism (cf Theism)? Western humanism/secularism? Individualism? Capitalism? Consumerism? Maybe they’re all facets of the same, uh, funny shaped coin.

  4. Neil Mactaggart

    You mean you actually attend a church where the mention Jesus Christ during morning services on a regular rotational basis? How about that!

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