© 2011 John Casimir O'Keefe

What’s With This?

I never could get my head around this whole “liturgical year” thing. I mean, special days, ordinary days, colors, what you can eat, should eat or should not eat depending on what day of the week it was after, before or during some festival designed to somehow share a story seems outside of my limited mind. I never could figure out why so many people eat lamb on Easter. A pastor friend told me that they did that because Jesus was “the Lamb of God.” So, we eat lamb because Jesus was a “the Lamb of God?” that sounded so cannibalistic to me. We eat fish on certain days and times of the year because the original followers were fishermen. But we don’t eat wood; after all, Jesus was a “carpenter.” We don’t eat metal; after all, one of the original followers was a tax collector. I mean, eating lamb because Jesus is the Lamb – gross.

Not being raised in the church I could never figure out what the difference between a “red day” and a “green day” or any other color what day was. While none of that changed when I decided to follow the teachings of Christ, I found out about that weird thing called “days” and I have to admit I was not impressed. Not days like “normal days,” but days like “special days” or “ordinary days,” which turn out to be some kind of lesser special day. I could never wrap my mind around the idea that one day was any more special than any other day. I never could remember how certain special dates were calculated. Think about it, what makes the second Sunday, of the third month, after the first full moon, on even years, based on the Hebrew calendar, any different than just Sunday? Or does it only count if you can stand on your head while drinking a glass of good wine? Well, not “good wine” – after all we are the church so it is either Welch’s grape juice or some cheap, overly sweet red wine we get on sale at the local convenience store. I could never remember how many ordinary days connected with how many special days went with the primary special day, never mind the fact that certain colors only went with certain days and not others depending on the times of the year. You know, is it 40 days before or after Easter? Is it 12 days of Christmas and 25 days of what? The idea of any one day being more special than any other day truly caused me great concern; not because it did not matter but because, well, it didn’t matter. You see, the way I see it was that each day of our faith journey is a special day.

It did not matter to me when Easter was, because to me Easter should be an everyday thought, and everyday action to our faith. Celebrating Christmas just one day a year seemed silly, because we should have the birth of Christ in our hearts all year round. When I first started to follow, it felt like people in the church used those “special days” as reasons to act a certain way. They gave things up for Lent, but not during the rest of the year and they usually were it as a “red badge of courage,” as if giving up chocolate is some kind of real sacrifice. They volunteered at the local soup kitchen during Thanksgiving (a quasi-Christian social holiday) and Christmas, but not so much during the rest of the year. They talk about the Holy Spirit working in their lives during Pentecost, but not so much during Christmas.

While I am comfortable with my views, it seemed that those in the United Methodist Churches I served were not happy with my, what they called, “my desire to belittle the Christian year.” – As if there is a difference between a Christian year and just a year.

Other Voices in the SynchroBlog:

Kerri at Earth’s Crammed With Heaven… – Transformation

Sarita Brown at Gypsy Queen Journals – Pentecost: A Poem

Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes – The Incarnation of the Temple, Torah, and Land

Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved – Random Biblical Calendar Thoughts, Unity & Love

K. W. Leslie at More Christ – Pentecost

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – We Cannot Capture The Wind

Emma Nadine at Life by List – An Outpouring of the Spirit

Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms – Shadow of Things to Come?

Abbie Waters at No Longer “Not Your Grandfather’s CPA” – Spiritual Gifts

Bill Sahlman at Creative Reflections – A “Wild Goose” Festival at Pentecost

Kathy Escobar at kathy escobar – more than the leftovers


  1. Posted 2011/06/09 at 4:09 pm | #

    Hi John, I hear a longing in your words here for a much more radical faith than we often see lived around us. I especially like your comment “For me, the idea of sharing my faith is . . . based on making honest, open, lasting friendships that have meaning to me and the other person.” I want to try to live this way as much as I can too. It’s not always easy. I wish you the energy of the Spirit of Jesus as you seek this way of living and may you find people around you to support you in it….

  2. Posted 2011/06/13 at 12:21 pm | #

    John – We should remember everyday but we don’t and so the traditions/festivals/holidays can help us but the problem is that they have become like an idol and taken on more importance than they should. I think the same sort of thing has happened with the bible among evangelical Christians.

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  3. By more than the leftovers | kathy escobar. on 2011/06/09 at 11:51 am

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  5. […] john c. o'keefe » What’s With This? Says: June 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm […]

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