Sometimes those of us who don’t come from branches of the Christian church that celebrate the traditional church calendar feel a little left out and curious about what other Christians do with “Lent,” “Advent” “Epiphany” and other holidays. We might even wonder if we should celebrate those days. Add to that the fact that there’s a whole slew of Jewish feasts in the Bible (and additional Jewish holidays on the calendar) that we’re only passingly familiar with, and a girl might be wondering if she might need to pick up some matzah, learn to spin a dreidel and light candles for the Sabbath. Written to help cut through some of the confusion and to educate on what all these holy days are and what they mean, Michelle van Loon’s Moments and Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith provides a clear and concise look at what the main Jewish and Christian holy days are and why they matter to our faith.
Van Loon begins by sharing a little of her background as a Messianic Jew and how her experience of both Jewish and Christian holidays have been colored by the congregations that she’s worshipped with throughout her life. She discusses the calendar and how we’re shaped by it. She discusses how the Jewish calendar differs from the Julian one.
The meat of the book is the exploration of the holidays. Van Loon begins with the Jewish Holy Days and holidays, and as she goes through, she gives some extensions for Christians who are wanting to honor these days. Then, she explains how the Christian calendar has ended up partially tied to the Jewish calendar and partially tied to the Julian calendar. Of course, she also spends extensive time going through the Christian holy calendar and exploring her ideas of meaning and celebration for each holiday.
Van Loon closes with some reminders about time and some basic takeaways that she has from her experience of celebrating the holidays. The appendix of the book contains some calendar comparisons and some delicious looking recipes.
I found myself feeling a little torn about this book. I love the concept and wanted to understand the holidays better. I especially found the sections on how we got from the Jewish celebrations to the Christian calendar to be fascinating. As a believer who has always questioned why we don’t celebrate Passover, the Feast of Trumpets and the Sabbath, I felt like this portion really resonated with me and provided some answers to my questions. I can also see, as a mother, how having a tie to the holidays helps me to share my faith with my children and to teach them the importance of Jesus, the Bible, the Exodus and so many other concepts and ideas that are central to my faith.
However, I also tend to come from the perspective that the Holy Days are part of what contributes to the curse of religion and helps people to feel like they’re worshipping God when all they’re doing is participating in vain rituals. In that perspective, it is difficult for me to give a hearty assent to the actual practice and building in of traditions and Holy Days. Having said that, this book is a well-written introduction to these days, and reading this book might leave you wanting more information about a day that speaks to your heart.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.