Calendar Confusion

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

If I ever brought up even the most minor proper observance of the Christian liturgical year in my decidedly (and increasingly, to our detriment) anti-liturgical church (even though every church has a liturgy, whether it wants one or calls it that or not), I’m sure that these verses (Romans 14:5-8) would get flung in my face.

And if my church—or any church, or any Christian—were simply deciding for whatever Christ-centered reason to not celebrate any “holiday” as more special than any other, or (in a Messianic Jewish church, for example) to celebrate the Jewish feasts commanded in the Law rather than the festivals instituted in the Church more recently, or to only celebrate Christmas and Easter, or (conversely) to not celebrate Christmas or Easter because of their pagan origins, or (I could go on), I would have no objection. In fact, I would cite this passage in the church’s or individual’s defense. Whether to celebrate “holidays”, and which to celebrate, and how to celebrate them, is a tangled web of issues about which many Godly people have (and I think have been given) different (and mutually exclusive) convictions, with strong arguments on all sides, so Paul’s instruction here to let each one be guided by the firm convictions of his or her conscience is, in addition to being God’s command, especially wise and practical.

However, my church doesn’t take any of these principled stands. Instead, the two most important Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter, get extensive but uninformed and haphazard celebration, and any number of civil holidays are marked each year. Memorial Day, Independence Day, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Thanksgiving, and so on are in and of themselves either neutral or somewhat good … but this leaves one pressing issue that no one seems to have noticed:

When one complete set of God-ordained festivals and holidays has been laid out in Scripture, and the Church (and I use the capital letter there advisedly) has developed another to help us worship God aright as each year and each season of each year rolls past, why does a church only mark holidays designated by the secular State—in fact, only holidays that the increasingly anti-religious public schools also celebrate? If we celebrate some special days on the calendar, or if we treat every day alike, we are right to do so in either case, Paul says, because we do so to the Lord. But our Lord also says to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Entirely aside from Kuyper’s accurate quip that “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not [I add, rightfully and rightly] cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!'”, Paul is telling us in this passage from his letter to the church at Rome that the calendar is God’s. So why are we giving the calendar to Caesar?

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