The Early Church had a deeply held belief that the Christian faith was meant to be counter-cultural.1 It wasn’t so much that the earliest Christ-followers tried to avoid the world—even Jesus himself had said that his followers must be in but not of the world. Their counter-cultural efforts were more about rhythms than regulations.
The Early Church saw each moment as an opportunity to dance in step with other-worldy rhythms. Click To Tweet
The first Christ-followers saw their use of time as a perfect opportunity to get into rhythm with the counter-cultural Kingdom of God. Dom Gregory Dix refers to these counter efforts by the Early Church as the sanctification of time. To sanctify something is to set it apart for particular use in a special purpose or work.
We sanctify fine china. Jesus sanctified the best wine in Cana. The Early Church sanctified time.
These ancient efforts to create a Christ-centered clock would eventually take shape as the liturgical calendar (also called the church calendar, Christian cycle, and church year), a formational tool which remains in use, and mostly unchanged, today.
The church cycle of seasons, when its main outline had been completed, helped to stamp the story of faith into the everyday lives of Christians. Its annual cycle of seasons, sacred days, feasts, and fasts firmly established the church as an intentionally counter-cultural group of peculiar people.
In many ways the liturgical calendar was so revolutionary during the early years of the church that many outside the church considered it to be an act of civil disobedience. Imagine that!
PRACTICE: Compare/contrast your typical weekly calendar with your local church calendar.