One of the most powerful and lasting ways of keeping time in the ancient world was with stories and traditions. The first Christians were influenced by both the Jewish and Roman calendars. But they soon found that neither could meet their unique needs as the first followers of Christ. So Christians developed their own stories. These narratives, eventually replacing those on the Roman calendar, became the basis of the familiar Christian calendar of today.
But just as Roman observances gave way to Christian stories and celebrations, American culture today is replacing the ancient Christian rhythms of the year with secular ones. Instead of meditating on the birth of Christ during Advent, we count the shopping days left until Christmas. Instead of remembering sacrifice during Lent, we are filled with anxiety over tax forms.
Thankfully, the Chrysostom Society has preserved in these pages original stories of the Christian seasons. Told with a fierce reverence, the stories help us keep track of redeemed time-fixed on the still point of the turning world. Eugene H. Peterson is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Author of more than twenty-five books, his most recent work is The Message. Emilie Griffin is the author of Turning: Reflections on the Experience of Conversion and Clinging: The Experience of Prayer. She writes from her home in Louisiana.