Calendar and Story

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This is the first Lord’s Day of Advent, the beginning of the church calendar year. One of the most important things we can learn in our celebration of this is the foundational truth that calendars are not silent—calendars always tell a story. Now just because a calendar tells a different story from ours does not mean the story is wrong, although it sometimes is. But a competing story is always wrong (and idolatrous) when it replaces the story, the story of Christ, the story of salvation.

Thus it is not sinful to have a fiscal year beginning in the summer, or an academic year beginning in the fall, or a civil year beginning in January. But it is wrongheaded and very foolish to forget that all these different kinds of years each have a story to tell. And if we listen to these stories long enough, and neglect the story that God has given the church to tell, we will succumb to idolatry. And then it will seem strange and outlandish to us that the Christian Church marks the beginning of the year in late November, longing for the coming Messiah. “How strange!” The nonbelievers wonder, why would Christians commemorate something like this—God taking on flesh, when “they could be marking really important things, like the start of the fiscal year, or the contribution of labor unions to our society? Why are these Christians bothering us with their trifles?”

It is not surprising that non-believers think this way, but it is shocking when believers are cowed by it. But Jesus is the reason for the season. And we are resolved, by the grace of God, not to let competing stories crowd out this story. God’s people waited for centuries, and then God fulfilled His promises, all His promises. And the world was made new.

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