It’s a bit of a cliché to observe that the Christmas season seems to be growing longer and longer each year, slowly edging its way into store displays and advertisements before the cold air of winter has even arrived to make heavy jackets truly necessary. Readers of Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas soon discover, though, that for the Chris Marchand, the problem is more that the very idea of Christmas as a season has fallen by the wayside—a liturgical season, that is. Marchand, an Anglican minister and writer (among other things), has penned this book in order to both delve into the varied traditions of the liturgical season and its feast days and to foster the revival of its celebration by offering readers suggestions for renewing the practices of old in ways that make sense for today. Continue reading
When followers of Jesus gather in worship to perform a baptism or celebrate the Eucharist, these occasions can become moments when believers are immersed in sacramental means of grace that make the Christian faith tangible and help them “feel the truth of the resurrection,” to borrow a phrase from Ellen F. Davis (2016, p.282). It seems to me that there is something formational about these practices. In both of them, the whole self participates in the worship of God.
Presbyterian scholar Ronald P. Byars echoes this sentiment near the beginning of The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective when he observes that the sacraments “testify to the conviction that the knowledge of God involves the mind, indeed—but not only the mind” (p.4). Byars’s wide-ranging and conversational exploration of the relevant biblical texts grows out a lifetime spent teaching liturgical theology and being a lectionary preacher. In light of these experiences, he finds it only natural for Christians to eventually reflect on their participation in the sacramental life of the Church and ask themselves, “What does this all mean? What do these words and actions say about God’s redemption of creation in Christ?” These are deep questions, and developing well-rounded answers takes some time and patience. For those taking this journey, though, Byars makes for a helpful traveling companion. Continue reading