Believe it or not, the “holiday season” is about to begin. Most often, that phrase refers to “Christmas time,” basically Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. It tends to elicit groans at the thought of Christmas displays going up and tacky recordings of Christmas carols playing in stores already by mid-October, as the merciless commercialization of a central Christian holiday keeps expanding.
In a broader and more blessed way, though, this truly is the beginning of the “holiday season.” The word “holiday” is an abbreviation of “holy day,” and was originally applied to saints’ days and other Christian festivals. Starting at the end of October, the Christian calendar is filled with a series of wonderful holy-days that are all well worth celebrating. Consider the line-up (with 2013 dates):
- Reformation Sunday (Oct. 27) — Thanking God for raising up the Reformers to restore the truth of the Gospel.
- All Saints’ Day (Nov. 3) — Giving thanks for all the devout Christian witnesses who kept the faith through the generations.
- Christ the King Sunday (Nov. 24) — Celebrating Christ’s reign as Lord of heaven and earth.
- Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) — A national holiday that is technically not on the church calendar, but a key time to recognize with gratitude that God is the source of all our blessings.
- Advent (Sundays and Wednesdays, Nov. 27—Dec. 22) — Preparing for Christ’s coming at Christmas and his coming again in glory.
- Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and Christmas Day (Dec. 25) — Celebrating the Incarnation of God’s Son to redeem the world from sin and death. [Christmas challenge: Deepen your experience of the holiday by worshiping on both days this year!]
- Epiphany Day (Jan. 6) — The visit of the Wise Men, revealing Jesus as king of all people.
The holy-days continue on through Lent, Easter and Pentecost, but not with the same frequency as the next two months. This really is the holiday season, so look beyond the ads and displays, the lights and the parties, the pressure to find “the perfect gift.” Let these holidays be holy days for you, lifting up the awesome power and goodness of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus.
Grace and peace,