The Easter Vigil

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

Holy Saturday, or the Easter Vigil, is the seventh day, the day Christ rested in the tomb. In the synoptic accounts this day was clearly the Jewish Sabbath, which provided the early church with appropriate symbolism. The day is meant to be a quiet one since today the church remembers Christ dead and waiting for the great day of resurrection. … Read More

A Good Friday Tenebrae Service

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

The world of liturgical celebrations is, as I have noted, not the world I grew up in as a Christian. Only during the last ten years have I begun to value these traditions and how they touch both the body and soul powerfully. Good Friday evening brought a new term into my vocabulary, which to some readers will show my … Read More

One Unbroken Time of Worship

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

Holy Week is the greatest of all weeks for Christians. Many churches have various celebrations throughout the entire week. I have already commented on Maundy Thursday. Today is Good (in the East it is Great) Friday. This darkest of days, when our Lord was crucified, is a good, or great, day because on this day our salvation was secured by … Read More

The Washing of the Feet

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

A central portion of the gospel narrative is found in John 13 where Jesus prepares for his impending death by gathering his disciples in an upper room. There we are told that he performed the action of the household servant by washing the feet of his twelve disciples (John 13:1-17). I must have read this text a thousand times, maybe … Read More

Ashes and Turning Away from Sin

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

Today is Ash Wednesday in the West. Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans, as well as some other groups, follow this tradition each year. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which is the six-week period before Easter. It appears to have originated in the 8th century. It is a day to be characterized by a penitential service during which Christians … Read More

Tranfiguration Sunday & My Junk

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

I have grown to love the church calendar for numerous reasons. Perhaps the simplest reason is that it takes me through the high points of the Christian story every single year. As Epiphany moves into Lent, and we approach the great celebration of Easter, many Western traditions celebrate Transfiguration Sunday on this date. As a Baptist evangelical in my first … Read More

Epiphany

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

Today is the celebration of Epiphany in many churches. Epiphany is the feast of the "manifestation" of Jesus (epiphaneia) has had various connections in church history with events associated with the divinity of the infant Jesus. It now generally refers to the manifestation of his divinity to the magi in Matthew 2:1-12, which was the text of today’s liturgy and … Read More

Christmas Tradition and a Prayer for Blessing

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

We obviously do not know the exact date of the Messiah’s birth. The church has celebrated his birth on December 25 for more than seventeen centuries, give or take a few years. It fits nicely into the liturgical flow of the year and helps us all "remember" the advent of the one who came to save the world. We can … Read More

The Important Place of Tradition

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

Jaroslav Pelikan’s important five-volume work on historical theology might well be the most important modern study on the subject we have. It is not always an easily readable work but it remains extremely important for anyone who wants to study the developments of Christian tradition from the first century to the present. It puts “tradition” in a positive light and … Read More

Staying Centered on the Truth

John ArmstrongChurch Tradition

How is the church maintained in the truth? The answer we give to this question reveals a great deal about our assumptions about both truth and the church. “What is truth?” has been asked by more than one philosophical mind through the ages. And not all these minds are unbelieving minds either. My answer is rooted in defining truth as … Read More