There is one point at which the Jewish festal calendar and the Christian calendar intersect, and it is Shavuot, also known as Pentecost. This year, the Jewish people will celebrate Shavuot (shah-voo-OAT) beginning at sundown on Saturday, June 11th. You’d be right in wondering how Shavuot and Pentecost align since the Western Church celebrated Pentecost on May 15th, and the Eastern (Orthodox) Church marks the day this year on June 19th.

While the dates may diverge, Shavuot is the closest spiritual connection point between the lunar-based Jewish calendar prescribed by God in Leviticus 23 and the lunar/solar hybrid calendar worship cycle developed by the early Christian church. Shavuot was originally a celebration of God’s care through his provision of the fruit of the earth – grain. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the people could no longer fulfill the specific requirements, religious leaders found ways to honor Shavuot’s original emphasis while shifting the focus to rejoice in God’s gift of the Law to the people at Sinai. [Read more]

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When I was a kid, I was in a giant hurry to be a grown-up. The day after my birthday, I was already telling people I was almost the age I’d be on my next birthday. I think I got my driver’s license on July 7th, 1975. If the DMV was open on July 4th (a Friday, and the date of my 16th birthday) or the weekend following, surely I would have gotten it three days earlier. I couldn’t wait to vote, drink, sign a lease, bounce a check, and buy a major appliance.

Sometimes, being an adult is pretty fun. I like being able to eat ice cream for breakfast if I so choose, for example. But the last few months have been a difficult reminder that sometimes adulthood is vastly overrated. Our midwinter move was packed with a lot of non-fun drama and loss. I became very ill shortly after the last box was unpacked at our new house. Chronic sorrow over a long-standing family situation simmers on the back burner. Insecurities about employment shroud our days.

Since the moment we moved into this house, we’ve been dealing with its problems. The pipes that had burst while the house was sitting vacant prior to our move-in did all kinds of damage to the place. We’ve had visits from no less than a dozen different contractors, fixing everything from clogged toilets to sizzling electrical fixtures to water spotted ceilings. They rebuilt the bathroom where most of the water damage occurred, but as a precaution, we asked them to do a mold test. My husband has monster mold allergies, and we wanted to make sure the house was safe, clean, and dry.

It wasn’t. [Read more]

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Jun

06

2016

News

I sent the following newsletter to those on my mailing list a couple of weeks ago: 

Hi friend!

clockThanks for taking a few moments of your valuable time to catch up with me.

Time is the only non-renewable resource in our lives. Yet our over-busy schedules and always-on connection to technology whisper an untrue tale about time to us. They tempt us to believe there will be space always in our lives for the things that matter most: relationship with God and one another. But our moments and days rush away from us, don’t they?

Followers of Jesus often speak of the importance of everyday discipleship. But what if our discipleship was formed with intention by days and seasons that punctuate the rhythms of our daily lives with times of purposeful rest, spiritual recalibration, and shared celebration?

Moments And Days Cover 2I began asking these questions in earnest several years ago. Those questions led me on a journey through time as I dug into the richness of the calendar God gave to the Jewish people in the Old Testament and observed in its fullness by Jesus. At the same time, I pondered the profound story the liturgical Christian calendar told me about the life and mission of my Savior.

Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith is the result of those questions. You’ll discover an engaging historical, devotional look at each key holiday/holy season in each calendar, as well as an invitation to a more intentional way of living.

Advance readers said some pretty nice things about the book:


I’m so excited about Moments and Days! As a Jewish believer in Christ, Michelle Van Loon brings a truly unique perspective. First, she shares her rediscovery of the deep, rich biblical feast days of Judaism as she grows in Christian faith. Then, she brings a fresh appreciation of Christian holy days that seem stale and boring to church goers. I love her superb historical scholarship that is knitted together with warm personal insights. Her practical insights for celebrating holy days will transform believers today.

— Lois Tverberg, Author of Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus

Where has this book been? Now that we have it, what did the church ever do without it and can I ever not have it nearby? I am savoring this book like a black iron skillet that gets better with age, and will use it to cook up some theological dishes I never thought possible.

— Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Tabor College, George Fox University, Drew University), and creator of preachthestory.com

Moments & Days releases September 1, but you can pre-order your copy now from NavPress (the publisher) or through one of these fine booksellers:

 


Me headshot 2015Can We Talk? 

It would be my honor to come speak to your church, Bible study, book club, or small group about Moments & Days – or work with you to craft a message or retreat that will minister to the unique needs of your group. I’m booking summer and fall dates now.

Book-related speaking topics include:

  • Marking Time With God: A grace-filled look at how time forms our lives.
  • At The Intersection Of Time and Eternity: The Jewish calendar and the Christian calendar each tell unique yet interrelated stories. Why do these stories matter to us here and now?
  • Rest, Recalibrate, Celebrate: A lively, practical overview of one or both calendars.

Other speaking topics include:

I’m booking summer and fall dates now. Click here to contact me for more information or to schedule a date.

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It sounds so basic, doesn’t it? After the drama of those mountains and valleys between Advent through Pentecost, “Ordinary Time” sounds like a long, dreary drive across North Dakota. Those of us in congregations not using the church calendar are familiar with the high points of the first half of the Christian year: Christmas and Easter. Ordinary Time? Not so much.

The name Ordinary Time does little to commend it to people who hear “boring” in the word “ordinary”.  It makes it sound as though there’s nothing much happening now that all the big holidays are over.

“Ordinary” comes from the Latin word ordinarius, which means “order.” An ordinal number names a thing in its relation- ship to a set—for example, third in line. This is in contrast to cardinal numbers, which describe how many of a thing there are—for example, five crayons. The use of ordinal numbers in the context of the church year refers to the number of counted-upwards weeks between Pentecost and Advent, when a new Church Year begins. [Read more]

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May

22

2016

The Successor To WWJD

The quintessential 90’s Christian accessories, the WWJD bracelet, T-shirt, Bible cover, bumper sticker (and today, an app) were all derived from the 1896 book penned by Charles Sheldon entitled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?  The titular question got a lot of people pondering what their choices might look like if they’d act as Jesus would. In some cases, the question brought clarity:

Q. Would Jesus steal this hubcap?

A. No.

But as even a casual read-through of the Gospels will show, Jesus didn’t always do what people thought he would do. [Read more]

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