You probably use a calendar to keep track of passing days. The church has been using a calendar for centuries, called the Liturgical Year. Since it focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus, it begins with Advent. This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent.
While some denominations do not recognize the Liturgical Year, many do. As Joan Chittister writes in her book, The Liturgical Year, the annual emphasis on the life of Christ is like a spiral. Each Advent we experience the deeper meaning of Christ's birth. During the Advent time, we long for his coming and prepare for it.
There are particular Bible readings assigned to the Liturgical Year. It seems that some denominations and individual churches assign their own Scripture for the various days of the seasons. This Advent moves to Year 2 in the readings from The Book of Common Prayer. The Scripture portions for this Fourth Sunday in Advent (taken from the Revised Common Lectionary at the online resource http://www.crivoice.org) include:
Psalms 24 and 29 in the morning and Psalms 8 and 84 in the evening. The Old Testament reading is from Genesis 3:8-15. The Epistle reading is Revelation 12:1-10 and the Gospel reading is John 3:16-21.
Here is the Gospel reading in the Common English Bible:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won't perish but will have eternal life. God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him isn't judged; whoever doesn't believe in him is already judged, because they don't believe in the name of God's only Son.
“This is the basis for judgment: the light came into the world, and the people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. All who do wicked things hate the light and don't come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God.”
If you would like to participate in a planned reading of the Scriptures that follows the Liturgical Year, I would suggest visiting The Voice, the web presence of the Christian Research Institute. The readings are an adaptation of the liturgical schedule and do not use the Apocrypha.
I am taking part in a blog tour of the Common English Bible. I'll be blogging more about this Bible as the days go by.
You can see the blogs of others taking part of this tour here: http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour
I received a complimentary copy of the CEB from its publisher for the purpose of this blog tour.