The Poor in Spirit: Creation and Christian Calendaring

The life of worship God revealed to the Old Testament Jewish people is in synchronization with the movement of creation. Calendars and Creation

  • One rotation of the earth on its axis is one day.
  • One revolution of the earth around the sun is one year.
  • One revolution of the moon around the earth is one month.

Calendaring is complex because one revolution of the earth around the sun does not equal a number of whole days AND one revolution of the earth around the sun does not equal a number of whole lunar months. There are three primary types of calendars:

  • Calendars based upon the earth’s rotation around the sun are called Solar
  • Calendars based upon the revolution of the moon around the earth are Lunar
  • Calendars that try to unify both the sun and moon are Luni-solar

Following is the 2017 life of worship calendar for Judaism.  These dates are taken from a calendar synchronized to start each Hebrew month on the new moon as it would be seen from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

  • Passover: April 11-12, 2017
  • Feast of Unleavened Breads: April 12-19, 2017
  • Feast of First Fruits: April 15-16, 2017
  • Counting the Omer: April 15-June 3, 2017
  • Feast of Weeks/Pentecost: June 3-4, 2017
  • Feast of Trumpets: September 21-22, 2017
  • Day of Atonement: September 30 – October 1, 2017
  • Feast of Tabernacles: October 5-12, 2017
  • Feast of the Eighth Day: October 12-13, 2017

After Jesus’ birth, death, burial, and resurrection Christians began to consider how to build a life of worship from the life of Jesus and the movement of creation.

  • In 336 AD Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th.
    • In the AD 200’s most Christians (Tertullian and many others) believed Jesus was conceived and died on the same day of the month, 14th of Nisan (March 25th Solar calendar).
    • Anonymous treatise, “On Solstices and Equinoxes,” AD 300’s states Jesus was conceived and died on March 25th.
    • Augustine, AD 400’s, states the same.

Very early on Christians attempted to continue the revealed worship life of the Old Testament blended with key events in the life of Jesus.

Jesus prioritized, in Matthew 6, private prayer, fasting, and alms.  Church history shows early Christians trying many and various ways to include Jesus’ emphasis on fasting, prayer, and alms into a worship life calendar.

After the Council of Nicea (325 AD) most Christians began to practice the Great Fast (40 day fast leading to Resurrection Sunday).

About this same time, Christianity was growing rapidly, and understanding which people were truly repentant and should be baptized became an issue.

  • Public repentance, as demonstrated with the Biblical examples of fasting, sack cloth, and ashes, became widespread.
  • Additionally, it was very popular (in some cases, required) to be baptized on Resurrection Sunday.

Public repentance with fasting, sack cloth, and ashes, prior to water baptism, soon merged with calendaring for Resurrection Sunday.  There are too many combinations of each of these components to cover in any one message.

However, for about 1,000 years Christians have prepared for Resurrection Sunday with forty-days of fasting and prayer (Moses – Exodus 34:28, Elijah – 1 Kings 19:8, and Jesus – Mt. 4:1, 2) beginning with a day of public repentance with sackcloth and ashes (now just ashes).

Wednesday, of this week, is the day of public repentance (Ash Wednesday) that launches the forty-day Great Fast (Lent) leading up to Resurrection Sunday, 2017.

Today’s text invites me to renew my poverty of spirit.  Matthew 5:3

  1. Is my spirit poor enough to value Christianity’s efforts to create a meaningful worship life that moves with God’s creation?
  2. Is my spirit poor enough to submit to the perspectives of 1,000 years of Christian practice of public repentance on Ash Wednesday?
  3. Is my spirit poor enough to fast or abstain in preparation for Resurrection Sunday?

Listen – My Story

  1. Please share your Beatitude memory work with your Life Group.
  2. Does anyone in your Life Group have experience with a worship life connected to calendaring? If so, talk about your experiences.
  3. This week’s message showed nine Jewish feasts, scheduled according to a Luni-solar calendar. Have you ever celebrated one of these Jewish feasts?  If so, talk about your experience.

Learn – Digging Deeper

  1. Please read Isaiah 58.


  1. What is Israel’s complaint about God? Have you ever had this same complaint?  Isaiah 58:3a


  1. What is God’s complaint about Israel? Does He have this complaint about you? Isaiah 58:3b, 4


  1. How should we apply God’s fasting instructions in Isaiah 58:6,7


  1. Consider the blessings of God upon those who fast in this way. Isaiah 58:9-14


Life – Taking it Home

  1. In response to this teaching, what action steps do you need to take this week?
  2. Would you like the members of your Life Group to help you with applying a component of this lesson?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the ways you will implement Isaiah 58:6,7 in the next 40 days.
  • Please pray for the members of your Life Group should they feel God has a complaint against them.
  • Please pray for the members of your Life Group who may have a complaint about God.
  • Please pray for miracle provisions for workers and funds for Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames in Anchorage and in Dillingham.