Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ancient Future Time

Robert E. Webber, 2004 Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books)

Ancient-Future Time is part of Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future series. Ancient-Future is Robert Webber’s concept of the future church. For the church to move forward, it must first look and learn from the ancient church. It is through the past that we move into the future. The ancient church is a collection of 2000 years of wisdom accumulated by the trials, labours, sweat and blood of our Christian forefathers.

Other books in this series are Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Post Modern World (1999) and Ancient-Future Evangelism: Making Your Church a Faith-Forming Community (2003).

In Ancient-Future Time, Robert Weber writes of the Christian practice of time. He divides the church year into two cycles: a cycle of light (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany) and a cycle of life (Lent, The Great Tridium, Easter). He calls it “Christian-year spirituality”.

It has the power to call ethical behaviour into conformity with the pattern left behind by Jesus. It has the power to construct a view of reality that is thoroughly Christian. But more, it compels us to live, die, and be raised with Christ. Through the discipline of the Christian year we can experience the power of Christ within the community of the church, through its worship and in our lives twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (p.23)

Christian-year spirituality is expressed as worship. It is “a worship that continually orders the pattern of our spirituality into a remembrance of God’s saving deeds and the anticipation of the rule of God over all creation.” (p.27 italics author’s)

It has often argued that just following the rituals of the Christian year are being legalistic, and does not do anything for the congregation. However, Webber argues that:

This objection has validity if the Christian year is seen as an end in itself. However, if we see the Christian year as an instrument through which we may be shaped by God’s saving events in Christ, then it is not the Christian year that accomplishes our spiritual pilgrimage but Christ himself who is the very content and meaning of the Christian year. (p.24)

Christian-year spirituality is a spirituality of being identified with the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ annually. It however is still an instrument, one that can be used by God to show us His Son. Maranatha.

Soli deo gloria

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Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Following the Christian year has been a most enriching and counter-cultural practice for me personally after re-appropriating it as a an important part of my own spirituality. Of course, this would also overflow into the church praxis which I'm involved in. More Christians and pastors in Malaysia would find Webber's vision and values helpful today. And I think a big chunk of mainliners would rekindle their love for the liturgy minus the stiffness. :-) I for one am one of them. Did I mention before I'm looking forward for Ash Wednesday?

1:03 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...


I do agree with you.That is why I am trying to get my church to adopt the Christian year. For some historical reasons, the Presbyterian Churches of Malaysia did not follow the Christian year except for Easter and Christmas.

I really think Webber's Christian year spirituality has so much to offer.

No, you did not mention you were looking forward to Ash Wednesday.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous blogmaster said...

my church has been following the Christian year and it is so dry and boring.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

dear blogmaster,

I sympathise with you. Sometimes going through the motion can be dry and boring.

It's like eating. We eat everyday and sometimes it is so routine that we do not appreciate what we are eating. Then comes a time when we are invited to special dinner with the chef's cooking his specialty, suddenly the act of eating is a delight and joy.

We need to make use of our existing situation to make it delightful and joyful.

Hope this makes sense.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous blogmaster said...

I still wish things are more exciting

6:17 PM  

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