That’s right, forget all that nonsense about January 1.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of the Advent season.
Not only does Advent mark our remembrance of the first coming of Christ as a means to anticipate his eventual second coming, Advent is also the beginning of the Christian liturgical year.
That’s right, Christians have our own calendar.
Our own peculiar sense of time that not even Steve Jobs or Next Day Shipping has managed to alter.
Though it’s a point often missed even by Christians, the Church organizes time differently than the rest of the world.
From very high liturgical traditions to very plain, low church traditions, Christians’ sense of time is out of step with the surrounding culture and is not beholden to it.
Through color, specific stories and particular practices Christians mark the changing of time in a way that sets us apart from others who do not worship God in Christ. We have a different sense of temporality.
Not only do we organize time differently than non-Christians, time is important for Christians in a way that it’s not in many other religious traditions.
Time, for Christians, revolves around the person of Christ.
We’re a religion based on a flesh and blood person who lived, suffered and died. We’re not a religion centered on ideas, timeless teachings or ancient practices.
Time is important for Christians because history is the medium in which God has made himself known to us.
Christian salvation happened in time.
In the day of Caesar Augustus, God took flesh and was born to Mary.
When Pontius Pilate was governor, Jesus was accused and tried.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus was crucified on the Passover.
On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead.
Fifty days later on the day of Pentecost, God sent the Spirit to indwell the Church.
Salvation happens in time.
The Gospels are arranged chronologically.
At the communion table we ‘look for that day when Christ shall return in glory and we shall feast at his table.’
As such, our calendar follows the story of Jesus and his Church not the holidays of the secular culture.
Time is important to Christians because, by taking flesh and dwelling among us, God in Christ made a dent in our calendar.
And God still does.
This, I suspect, is what St Peter means when he writes that followers of Christ are ‘strangers and pilgrims in an alien territory’ (1 Peter 2.11).
And I’m reminding of Peter’s words every time I look at my wrist for the time and remember that I no longer wear a watch anymore.
Why would I?
There’s a satellite-precise clock on my iPhone.
The iPhone I carry with me all the time
so that anyone can text/email/FB message/call me any time they wish
which certainly is a leading contributor to the sensation
that I never have enough time.
Time in our 21st century culture isn’t just money.
It’s like all our other natural resources, a shrinking commodity.
A possession that an infinite array of outlets demand from us, from pop-up ads to spam to FB feeds.
Given how precious the culture of our time treats our time perhaps there is no better witness to our peculiar, distinct identity as Christians than organizing our calendar according to the life of Christ.