A Restored Gospel Christian Calendar

We sometimes speak of the idea of a holy envy—meaning something that we admire in another a religion. For years, while remaining active in my ward, I spent a considerable amount of time at a Presbyterian Church ringing English handbells. Over time, one feature of their worship that I developed a bit of a holy envy for is their use of a liturgical calendar.

The liturgical calendar is an approach to remembering Christ’s life throughout the year. In Christian traditions that follow a calendar, the year is divided into a series of seasons with specific moods, theological emphases, and modes of prayer. Important holidays like Christmas and Easter are proceeded by periods of penitence, reflection, and preparation (Advent and Lent, respectively) and followed by several weeks of talking about the stories of Christ and Christianity that happened because of the events that the holidays focus on. Scripture readings and sermon subjects used in church are often based on the calendar, making the calendar the foundation of their worship services.

The reason I have holy envy for the calendar is because it helps people focus on Christ throughout the year—particularly around Christmas and Easter. I wanted to try it out in my personal life, so I have been developing my own version of the calendar that incorporates readings from all of our scriptural cannon to use in Sunday evening scripture study or family home evenings. Strictly speaking, of course, it’s not liturgical  (I’m not suggesting it be used in our public services in the Church), but focused on use in the family. With the renewed emphasis on gospel instruction in the home, I thought I might share what I’ve been doing in case someone else finds it to be valuable and to hear what people’s thoughts on the idea are.

 

The series of readings that I have been using are divided into four main sections, spanning most of the year. There is a specific topic for each week, and I have written up an introduction to the scriptures being read that brings together important quotes from Church leaders on the topic and explains how that week’s reading fits into the larger picture. The first section is an introduction to the year through a discussion of the Plan of Salvation. The scriptures for this section are mostly focused on the experiences of Adam and Eve and take place from late September to mid-November. Following traditional Christian calendars, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost are all observed with readings for each Sunday of the respective seasons and daily during the week leading up to Easter. Finally, I’ve included a season celebrating the Restoration of the Gospel in late June through mid-August. Since my family has Utah pioneer ancestry and lives in the United States, I’ve based the time frame around both the United States Independence Day and Pioneer Day in July. Over the course of that season, I cover a basic outline of Latter-day Saint history and family history stories about the pioneer trek and settlement in Utah. The calendar is an ongoing work in progress, but it has helped keep Christ on my mind throughout the year.

Below is a table of the readings. It isn’t perfect yet—some holidays, like Pentecost, don’t line up exactly with the traditional Christian calendar, and if Easter is later (as it is this year), it throws off the timeline leading up to the Restoration history season. Some readings are also a bit long for reading with small children (though the Church’s Bible videos are another possibility there). That being acknowledged, this is what I have been using:

Season Date Topic Core scriptures
Plan of Salvation Last Sunday in September Premortality Abraham 3:19-28; Revelation 12:7-10
Plan of Salvation First Sunday in October The Creation Genesis 1:1-2:3 OR Genesis 2:4-25 OR Moses 2:1-3:3 OR Abraham 4:1-5:5
Plan of Salvation Second Sunday in October The Fall of Adam and Eve Genesis 3:1-24 OR Moses 4:1-31
Plan of Salvation Third Sunday in October The Atonement Moses 5:1-15
Plan of Salvation Fourth Sunday in October The Gospel and Mortal Life Moses 6:43-68
Plan of Salvation First Sunday in November Death and Resurrection Alma 11:21-12:30
Plan of Salvation Second Sunday in November Enoch’s Vision Moses 7:23-67
Plan of Salvation Third Sunday in November Abrahamic Covenant Abraham 1:1-3; 2:1-13
Advent Fourth Sunday before Christmas Prophesies of Christ Mosiah 3:1-13 OR Alma 7:7-13 OR Isaiah 53 OR Psalms 2 and 16
Advent Third Sunday before Christmas Samuel the Lamanite Helaman 13:1-4; 14:2-19; 16:1-8
Advent Second Sunday before Christmas John the Baptist’s Birth Luke 1:5-25, 57-80
Advent Sunday before Christmas The Annunciation Luke 1:26-56; Matt. 1:18-24
Christmas Christmas Eve The Nativity Luke 2:1-21; Matt. 2:1-15
Christmas Christmas Day The Nephite Christmas 3 Nephi 1:4-21
Christmas First Sunday after Christmas Childhood of Jesus Matt. 2:19-23; Luke 2:40-52
Christmas Second Sunday after Christmas Baptism of Jesus Matt. 3:1-17 OR Mark 1:1-11 OR Luke 3:1-22
Lent Seventh Sunday before Easter The Temptations Matt. 4:1-11 OR Mark 1:12-13 OR Luke 4:1-15
Lent Sixth Sunday before Easter The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37; I also used information from   https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2007/02/the-good-samaritan-forgotten-symbols?lang=eng to set up subsequent Lent readings
Lent Fifth Sunday before Easter Christ the Savior John 4:1-42
Lent Fourth Sunday before Easter Miracles of Jesus Matt. 8:23-9:8 OR Mark 5:1-43 OR Luke 8:22-56
Lent Third Sunday before Easter The Preparation of the Twelve Matt. 4:18-22; 10:1-15, 40-42; 16:13-20; 17:1-8 OR Mark 1:14-20; 3:13-19; 6:7-13; 8:27-30; 9:2-8 OR Luke 5:1-11; 6:12-16; 9:1-6, 18-22, 28-36
Lent Second Sunday before Easter The Second Coming JSM 1:1-55 OR Matt. 25:1-46 OR Mark 13:1-37 OR Luke 17:20-37
Holy Week Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) Triumphal Entry Matt. 21:1-11 OR Mark 11:1-11 OR Luke 19:28-40 OR John 12:12-19
Holy Week Monday before Easter The Fig Tree Matt. 21:18-22 OR Mark 11:12-26; I also used chapter 30 from Talmage’s Jesus the Christ to discuss the significance of this story
Holy Week Tuesday before Easter Plots Against Jesus Matt. 21:23-46 OR Mark 11:27-33; 12:1-34 OR Luke 19:41-48; 20:9-26
Holy Week Wednesday before Easter The Anointing of Jesus Matt. 26:1-16 OR Mark 14:1-11 OR Luke 7:36-50
Holy Week Thursday before Easter The Last Supper and Betrayal Matt. 26:17-57 OR Mark 14:12-50 OR Luke 22:1-53 OR John 13:1-30; 18:1-12
Holy Week Good Friday The Trial and Crucifixion Matt. 26:57-68; 27:1-61 OR Mark 14:53-65; 15:1-47 OR Luke 22:63-71; 23:1-56 OR John 18:19-24, 28-40; 19:1-42
Holy Week Saturday before Easter Ministry in the Spirit World D&C 138:11-37
Easter Easter Sunday The Resurrection Matt. 28:1-20 OR Mark 16:1-8 (Or 16:1-20) OR Luke 24:1-12, 36-53 OR John 20:1-23
Easter Sunday after Easter The Road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-35
Easter Second Sunday after Easter Conversation with Peter John 21:1-19
Easter Third Sunday after Easter The Forty Day Ministry Acts 1:1-14
Easter Fourth Sunday after Easter Christ’s Visit to the Nephites, part 1 3 Nephi 11:1-41
Easter Fifth Sunday after Easter Christ’s Visit to the Nephites, part 2 3 Nephi 17:1-25; 19:1-3; 26:3, 6, 13-21
Early Church Sixth Sunday after Easter Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-42
Early Church Seventh Sunday after Easter Revelation to Peter Acts 10:1-48
Early Church Eighth Sunday after Easter Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-22 OR Galatians 1:10-2:10 and 2 Cor. 11:22-28
Early Church Ninth Sunday after Easter The Apostasy Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” CR April 1995. I also use Terryl L. Givens, “We Have Only the Old Thing” in shaping the discussion
Early Church Tenth Sunday after Easter The Reformation Robert D. Hales, “Preparations for the Restoration and the Second Coming: ‘My Hand Shall Be over Thee”
Restoration Sunday before Fourth of July The Founding of the United States 1 Nephi 13:10-20
Restoration Sunday after Fourth of July Ministry of Joseph Smith Selections from the Wentworth Letter
Restoration Second Sunday after Fourth of July The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith D&C 135:1-7
Restoration Third Sunday after Fourth of July The Trek West Summarize history, family stories; story of Come, Come, Ye Saints OR Our Heritage, 69-80
Restoration Fourth Sunday after Fourth of July Settling Deseret Summarize history, family stories OR Our Heritage 81-91
Restoration Fifth Sunday after Fourth of July Continuing Revelation from the Living Christ Summarize history of Church to today and read The Living Christ

 

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