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Be Doers Of The Word, And Not Hearers Only

Though The Liturgical Calendar

 The Rev. Dr. Franco Kwan


But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  (James 1:22)

According to the Anglican and the Episcopal liturgical calendar a year is divided into two parts.  The first part of the calendar is the life cycle of Jesus.  It starts with Advent (Coming), four Sundays before Christmas.  This is a period of preparation and expectation for the birth and coming again of Jesus. Then of course, is Christmas, the feast of the Nativity, which starts on Christmas Eve and lasts through the Epiphany.  The feast of Christmas is one of the two most important seasons for Christians.  It is because the Messiah, the King of kings is born, incarnate among us.  Epiphany is the season of the star that guided the three kings (wise men).  It is also the Christmas of the Eastern Orthodox Church due to a different calendar.  Lent starts from Ash Wednesday which is forty days before Easter.  Sundays are not included in these forty days. A week before Easter the church call this week the “Holy Week.”  It starts with Palm Sunday in remembering Jesus’ last entering of Jerusalem. People in Jerusalem welcomed Jesus waving with Palms in their hands.  Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday.  On that day Jesus had his last supper with his disciples.  Jesus set an example for the disciples as humble servants to each other in washing the disciples feet.  Jesus also instituted the Lord’s Supper (Holy Eucharist and Holy Communion) for the Church.  After the supper he went to Gethsemane to pray and was arrested there.  Friday, the next day is called Good Friday.  It was the day Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  Jesus rose on the third day, a high peak in the Christian calendar (the other one is Christmas).  It is Easter.  The Easter Tide last for fifty days.  The forth day after is the Ascension Day of Jesus.  Ten days later, is the Day of Pentecost.  This is the third peak of the calendar.  On that day the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples as promised by Jesus.  They went out to proclaim the gospel and the Church was formed due to the descending of the Holy Spirit.  This is the birthday of the Church.  The first Sunday of Pentecost is the Sunday of the Trinity. 

The second part of the Church calendar is from the Season of Pentecost back to Advent.  The Season of Pentecost last almost half of a year. It can be as long as 29 weeks. The length of the season is dependant on how early Easter was. 

The first half of the calendar is for us to learn the teaching though Jesus Christ and the second half of the calendar is for us the put all the knowledge to work, to make disciples. St. James said, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he is like.”  (James 1:22-24) 

Why did St. James encourage us to be doers?  It is because most of the people of St. James’ time as well as here and now are listeners not doers.  As Christians we cannot be listeners only.  We must put what we have learned to work.  We have to act out what Jesus has taught us, change our live, to witness Jesus.  In Christ we become new persons.  That is what Christians have always referred to as “new birth.”  It you have learned a great deal of teachings from Jesus but don’t practice it, it will be useless.  Before Jesus left his disciples, he commissioned them as well as to commission us today, “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you.  I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”  (St. Matthew 28:18-20) 

It the above “Great Commission” it is very clear for us to see the learning and teaching components of it.  If we only learn but do not teach or put it to work, what good is it for us to have learned?  It becomes a waste of time.  Furthermore, if we do not use what we have learned we will forget them all later on. 

Many people in the pews have been Christians for twenty, fifty years or more. They are pew-warmers.  They come to church every Sunday but they don’t participate in anything.  They don’t know how to bring people to church.  They don’t know how to lead a prayer in public.  They don’t know how to teach Sunday School.  They don’t know to lead bible study.  They don’t know…  Are you one of them?  If yes, it is because you don’t pay any attention on the teachings of Christ.  It is because you have not put what you have learn into practice.  We Chinese have a saying: Teaching and Learning are grown together.  When you teach you will learn more.  Hurry! Get up and roll up your sleeves to take actions.  Trust me you will be a better Christian when you put your faith to work. God love those who put what they learned to work.