As Christianity grew from its earliest days as a sect within Judaism to its position as a truly world religion, so, too, did its observation of events based on the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian church has, from it earliest foundation, worshipped according to a religious (or, liturgical) calendar which owes its origin to that of the Hebrews. Indeed, virtually all of the major events involving Jesus' earthly ministry are marked against the background of the Jewish calendar. According to Hickman, et al., although at least one of the Eastern religions accounts little or nor historicity according to a definite timeline,
we realize just how crucial time is to Christian faith. . . For Christianity, the ultimate meanings of life are not revealed by universal, timeless statements but by concrete acts of God. In the fullness of time, God invades our history, assumes our flesh, heals, teaches, and eats with sinners. There is a specific historical and spatial setting to it all . . . .
For Christians (as for Jews), life and worship revolve around the structure of time--the cyclical rhythm of days, weeks, months, and years. The structure of time permits us the ability to consider, commemorate, and reexperience the temporal events through which God delights in making known His immanence.
Christians can certainly be distinguished by our manner of keeping time (or marking its passage). Indeed, according to Mark 1:15 (NASB), "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand . . ." is the proclamation of Jesus as He begins the Galilean ministry. As the church developed through the second, third, and fourth centuries, its observances were organized in response to "the events that have happened among us" (Luke 1:1 NEB).
Following the Genesis tradition, Jews observe a seven-day week which culminates in the Sabbath, an "intermission," the observance of the day on which God looked back upon his creat...