Having followed the daily Bible readings and saints of the Orthodox Church Liturgical Calendar, I felt like I was too far down in the weeds. I know that there is deep meaning to the broader organization of the Church calendar, so I was looking for something to help me understand it better. Around the Liturgical New Year, after hearing a couple of good snippets and recommendations of The Year of Grace of the Lord (non-affiliate link), that seemed like a logical choice, so I ordered it. However, the order got mixed up, and instead I got the series A Year of the Lord: Liturgical Bible Studies by Theodore Stylianopoulos. I’m a pretty laid-back guy, so I figured I’d give this series a shot.
Each week of the Church calendar corresponds to a chapter in the book. Each chapter contains sections discussing a topic in the week’s calendar: the Sunday Bible readings, important saints, feasts, fasts, etc. Sections provide a discussion of the topic, a relevant Bible passage, study questions, and questions that direct the application of the section to one’s life. Meditations, prayers, and hymns occasionally appear at the end of a section or chapter.
I’ve been reading one section each morning, which fits well into my day. The sections are short enough to be a reasonable daily devotional for busy people, while long enough to contain a good lesson. The study questions reinforce the Bible passage for the topic, and often highlight aspects of the reading I had glossed over. The application questions, while good though exercises, will probably not stick with me or change my life–simply because making such a change would require a stronger focus over a longer time, rather than something new each day.
My favorite part of this series is the weaving together of the topics, the Bible, and the Church calendar. This has started to show me the depth of the Church calendar, more so than the daily readings I was doing before. The book ordering mix-up that brought me this series has given me exactly what I was looking for. Perhaps next year I’ll actually get The Year of Grace of the Lord, but until then, I’m happy with what I have.