Happy New Year!


I was sifting through my drafts and found that I had yet to post this goody from WAY back. Originally on Facebook Wednesday, September 2, 2009. I had yet to fully convert to Orthodoxy, but I was getting there. I missed posting this for this year’s Induction (September 1). Forgive me.

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525, 600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year…The Church Year, that is.

One whole year. One liturgical cycle. New Year’s Day- Orthodox style.

Just as I wrote of my first year of inquiry as a landmark, I recently became conscious on how huge of a landmark that participating in the entire liturgical year is for me and my understanding of Orthodoxy.

My cerebral grasp of a liturgical year can be wrapped up in a few sentences. One, it means we start the Gospel and Epistle readings all over again. Long before the One Year Bible was being printed, the Orthodox Church had a yearly cycle for reading through everything Old and New Testament. The exception is Revelations because it was canonized after the liturgical year was set in place. Two, we start at the beginning for the cycle of celebrations, feasts, and fasts. I love that these are ordered throughout the year to give a “life cycle of the Church Militant” perspective.

The Church New Year is September 1. I don’t remember a huge deal being made about it; definitely no ball of lights was dropped from a cathedral dome at midnight. August 2008, I was in a daze having returned from my seventh, 12-hour cross-country trek in a 6 month period. Nonetheless, I remember it being mentioned. And something about the Nativity of the Theotokos. That’s right…the church year starts (and ends) with Mary.

Before some of my Protestant readers flip-out, let me state my reasons for being okay with this. We (Christians) are The Church on Earth or as others say, “The Church Militant.” We have a life cycle. The purpose of the Church is to glorify Christ, and who better as our example can we look at on Earth than Christ’s own Mother. At the center of the Liturgical Year is Christ: His Nativity, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. There were things to prepare for Christ’s first coming and there are things to prepare for His return. In a sense, surrounding Christ is everything that we, as Christians, have to do. Who better to look at as one whose life centered around Christ than Mary the Theotokos.

You know what else? I like having a church year. It prevents the problem of most churches where there is something separate in each “spiritual growth” area such as the Sunday morning sermon series, the bible study/small group, and personal devotions. It prevents me and others from sitting through sermon or Sunday school series geared towards stages of life irrelevant to us. Those specific resources are out there as I need them, but Sunday morning isn’t about me responding to my cultural influences and where it is and is not okay for the church to absorb pop culture.

It has been one challenging year. As I was, again, reflecting with friends last week, one graciously pointed out that my life has change almost 100% in the past 12 months. Not an easy feat. One that I hope will not be repeated, except in the Church. I get to experience its joyful cycle once more and every year after. It is a cycle that teaches me what I need in due time. It is a year that wants me to experience that “to everything there is a season.” (Gotta love the Byrds!) And though I won’t measure this year “in love,” as Jonathan Larson would want me, it is marked by “laughter and strife.”

And while I’m continuing the cheesy parallels, there were plenty of “truths that she learned.”

Regardless of whether I have been in a season of laughter or a season of strife, I have had one year. One year to proclaim:

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

Amen.

I debated on how complete of a one-sided debate that I wanted to make this note. One thing I have learned in the past year: it isn’t my appointed job to be the chief defender of Orthodoxy to my friends and family. So, for those of you really wanting to sink your teeth in this dish…well, sorry, it will be leaning towards the experiential and subjective. If you want the concrete or objective materials, I would like to recommend that you visit an Orthodox liturgy at least twice and Eighth Day Books.

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