Last week, I shared Five Benefits You Can Expect When You Follow the Christian Calendar. Based on how many readers requested the copy of the calendar, many of you want those benefits. So, this week, I want to provide you with an introduction to the current season as well as point you in the direction of some reading plans that will help you in your quest to reap the rewards we discussed in last week’s post.
Count on Growing During Epiphany
Epiphany, which was on January 6, celebrated the arrival of the Magi to worship Jesus. Matthew’s account (See Matthew 2) highlights the message that all who are willing to recognize who Jesus is are welcome to come and worship him. This King of the Jews is Savior of all who would receive him.
Depending on denomination, the time from January 6 until Ash Wednesday, is known as the season of Epiphany or Ordinary Time (as in ordinal or order of things). The Sundays are referred to by their order after Epiphany (for example, Second Sunday after the Epiphany).
In some traditions, this season is referred to as Growing Time. Whatever we call this season, the emphasis is on the manifestation of Jesus as God Incarnate and the long-awaited Savior.
An epiphany is an appearance or manifestation of a deity. And the term can also refer to one’s gaining insight into the reality of something extraordinary through something commonplace. The counting of days as the season progresses emphasizes the concept of progression or growth.
During this season, we follow the story of Jesus growing in wisdom and stature from the infant worshiped by the Magi to the pre-teen sitting among the teachers in the Temple astounding all who heard him (see Luke 2:40-52). One of the highlights of this theme of growing in revelation and understanding is the account of Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34).
Our understanding of who Jesus is continues to expand as we read of his miracles and teaching throughout the Gospels. And the season of epiphany reaches its climax in the account of the Transfiguration (see Luke 9:28-36; Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8).
No, really. Try it right now! Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you better understand Jesus as you read the Scriptures. Then, click on those links in the previous two paragraphs and read at least one account of each portion of Jesus’ life. As you read, pay attention to what is revealed about who Jesus is.
By focusing our Bible reading on this motif of growing in our understanding of who Jesus is, we are better prepared to reflect on our need for him. We are also better equipped to see just how uniquely and completely Jesus meets our need to be reconciled with our Creator.
Helpful Bible Reading Plans
If you haven’t focused your spiritual growth and Bible reading around the Christian Year before, I invite you to give it a try and see how enlightening it can be. There are a multitude of reading plans which will help you do this. Here are just a few you might consider:
The RCL is a three-year cycle of Scripture readings structured upon the seasons of the Christian Year. It is used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in the United States and Canada. The list of readings was compiled by representatives of nineteen different denominations. The RCL differs somewhat from the Roman Catholic lectionary, primarily as to the feast days that are specifically observed by the Roman Catholic Church.
- The Book of Common Prayer Bible Reading Plan on the YouVersion App
This plan follows the Daily Office Lectionary found in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) used worldwide by Anglicans and Episcopalians. But one doesn’t have to be a member of those denominations to benefit from the reading plan.
- Daily Reading Plan by the American Bible Society.
The American Bible Society has created a nice printable 2015-2016 Christian Year reading plan. It provides daily readings corresponding to the various seasons of the Christian year in a simple format that could be tucked in your Bible.
FREE Seasons of Faith Calendar
Many readers downloaded a copy of the Seasons of Faith calendar I made for you. This calendar describes each season of the Christian year and gives the 2015-2016 [Updated: 2016-17] dates for each season.
If you want to develop your own reading plan, you can review the descriptions of the themes for each season and use a topical Bible to find relevant passages to read. (That’s what I’m doing this year.)
If you haven’t requested your copy yet, it isn’t too late. Just click the image or button below and I’ll email your copy instantly!
Help Choosing the Right Study or Plan
If you need a little more help selecting which Bible study or reading plan is best suited for you, check out my guest post over at Life Letter Cafe.
At the end of that post, be sure pick up the free step-by-step guide to choosing the plan perfect for your learning style and schedule. The post is called How to Enjoy Reading the Bible and Get More Out of Your Time In It. It will help you evaluate those three plans above or any others you might be considering. It will also give you some ideas for where to find reading plans and Bible studies that are best suited for your needs.
How about you? What type of Bible Study or reading plan are you using? You can leave a comment by clicking here.