How to Stay on Track Following Jesus Throughout the Year

paths are made by walking

Its normal to have a head of steam at the beginning of the year.  You have things you want to accomplish – goals you desire to see met.  On that list of things in your head, in your heart, and maybe even written down somewhere on your desk is the longing to know God better, to experience Jesus in a fresh way, to have better discipline with prayer or Bible reading.  Maybe you don’t know where or how to start.  Perhaps you have traveled the Christian road for a long time and its become stale and dull, and you think you’ve exhausted all attempts at following Jesus with enthusiasm.

There is a way, a road, a path for you to travel.  It’s a very well-worn journey that Christians for two millennia have been walking.  If you will walk with them down this road, your desires can spring to life and gain traction and direction.  It’s a path of truly walking with Jesus, to experience his birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification.

This journey with Jesus is not hard in the sense of simply following him.  Yet, it does require getting into a rhythm, just like you do when you walk.  Just as you have a certain gait, picture yourself walking with Jesus down a road.  Maybe it’s a slow saunter with him.  Maybe it’s going on a run.  Perhaps it’s a solitary tromp through the woods, or around the mall with others present.  Whatever it is, in this next year, imagine yourself recalling, retelling, and remembering the life of Jesus with him alongside you.

The Christian Calendar or Christian Year is a delightful and enlightening walk with Jesus throughout the entire year.  The Christian Year is a yearlong calendar that marks time according to the life of Jesus.  It is to live and walk in a rhythm with Christ at the center of your work and worship.  Observing the days and the seasons of the Year will bring you closer to Jesus with a greater awareness of his presence through the Holy Spirit.  It’s what I want, and it is, I believe, what you want, too.

The Christian Calendar is arranged in such a way as to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ over the course of a year.  Just one of the ways that help you to remember differing seasons is through color:  purple signifies a time for preparation and penitence; white represents celebration, joy, and victory; green lets us know it is time to focus on spiritual growth and mission; and, red helps us recall the Passion of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Check-out how the Christian Year is organized and arranged according to seasons to aid you in your walk with Jesus:

Advent – The Christian Year begins not on January 1, but four Sundays before Christmas Day and up to Christmas Eve.  The purpose of Advent is to anticipate the incarnation of Christ and prepare us to celebrate the coming of Jesus.  We are also reminded that Jesus will again return….

Christmas – Yes, Christmas is more than just a day on the church calendar and encompasses the twelve days from December 25 to January 5 (you may recognize the 12 Days of Christmas).  Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ.

Epiphany – Epiphany follows Christmas from January 6 to the day before Ash Wednesday.  The term Epiphany means “manifestation.”  This is a celebration of God’s self-revealing, his manifestation to the entire world, not just the Jews, but the Gentiles, as well.  Epiphany emphasizes Christ’s earthly ministry of teaching, healing, and preaching.

Lent – There are forty days in the season of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday.  Lent is a time to recall Christ’s temptation, conflict, suffering, and death.  It is a season to contemplate being disciples in light of Christ’s Passion, engage in repentance, and put deliberate focus on spiritual disciplines.

Easter – As with Christmas, Easter is not just one Sunday; it is a season of fifty days up to the day of Pentecost.  Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus; helps us recognize our new life in Christ; and, includes celebrating the Ascension of our Lord.

Pentecost – This season runs from Eastertide to the Sunday before Advent.  Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the church, acknowledges our spiritual power, and calls us to rejoice in receiving God’s power.

Ordinary Time – Ordinary time refers to the ongoing work of the church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the typical, expected, ordinary work of ministry that Christ’s followers are to do.

It’s easy to get distracted and get off track from our desires and goals.  But with observance of the Christian Year, we stay on track with Jesus.  The focus is on him, and not on our own schedules.  To center the year in Christ brings spiritual health, a close walk with Jesus, and a satisfaction to our hungry souls.

May your journey be fulfilling and fruitful.  Amen.

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