Throughout the history of the Christian church, one of the crucial ways in which the church has fostered is particular ethos and distinctive identity has been through the rhythms and celebrations of a particular calendar. The Christian liturgical year embodies a way of ordering time which is distinctively shaped by the Christian narrative. The seasons of the Christian year offer a way of ordering time which reflect a distinctively Christocentric and Trinitarian shaping of ecclesial life. Through a narrative-Christological ordering the celebrations and festivities of its people, the church constructed a powerful mode of ecclesial formation that orients its members toward an explicitly theological and ecclesial understanding of their identity and the practice of everyday life. An analysis of the social and political lives of nations and other socio-political bodies bears out that the way in which a society structures time (and particularly festivities and holidays) distinctively shapes its members into a certain kind of polity, both politically and economically.
However, the distinctively Christian way of shaping time offered by the Christian liturgical year has been largely lost in the contemporary evangelical church, the life of which has rather become dominated and determined by the calendar of the nation-state and market (which tell us, above all, when we must shop). The fragmentary nature of evangelical identity testifies to the need for a recovering of the church’s liturgical year as a powerful tool of ecclesial formation and Christian education. Through a recovery of the liturgical year, Christian churches have an opportunity to reclaim a holistic and missionally oriented ecclesial self-consciousness which is vital to the faithful witness of the church in the culture of late-modern capitalism.