Thursday, June 4, 2009

What is the Church Year?

At my church we celebrate the church year. The church year is a way of structuring time so that our church calendar follows the life of Christ. Here is how it looks with dates for the 2008-2009 year. I will follow this up with a post on why we use the church year.

1. Advent: This is a time of preparation for the celebrating Christmas. It also is a time to consider the 2nd Advent of Christ when He will come again. It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The color for this season is purple or blue in honor of the coming King. (November 30, 2008-December 21, 2008)

2. Christmas: Of course, here we celebrate Christ’s birth. It is always two Sundays. The color for Christmas is white. (December 28, 2008-January 4, 2009)

3. Epiphany: This season begins every year on January 6th. Epiphany is the season we celebrate Jesus’ manifestation of Himself as God. The Greek word “epiphany” means manifestation. Often there is an emphasis on celebrating who Christ is by looking at events such as His baptism, His presentation in the Temple and the Transfiguration. The color for Epiphany is green, which symbolizes Christ giving life to the world. (January 6, 2009-February 22, 2009)

4. Lent: This season is the forty days preceding Easter. Sundays are not included because Sundays are feast days celebrating Christ’s resurrection. It begins on Ash Wednesday and is often a time of reflection and increased penitence. Many people fast for various reasons. Of all the seasons we celebrate this one is the most difficult to justify from the Bible. Primarily because there was only one fast day in the Old Testament. It is hard to justify 40 days of fasting in the New Testament, which is a better, more glorious covenant. Many Protestant churches, which celebrate the church year, do not emphasize Lent and some will even cut it out altogether and extend Epiphany until Easter. One fascinating note is that the Annunciation, that is the announcement to Mary that she was with Child, is celebrated during this time because it is nine months before Christmas (March 25). Thus even as we get ready to celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection we are remembering His birth also. The color for Lent is purple. (February 25, 2009-April 11, 2009)

5. Holy Week: Easter is preceded by Holy Week, which is part of Lent. This includes Palm Sunday, which celebrates the Triumphal Entry, Maundy Thursday, which celebrates the Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal and Good Friday, which revolves around the crucifixion of our Lord. The color for this week is red. (April 5, 2009-April 11, 2009)

6. Easter Season/Eastertide: This is the greatest season in the church year. It moves around from year to year based on the spring equinox. It last 50 days and celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. The colors for the Easter Season are white and gold. White symbolizing the angels who announced the resurrection and gold symbolizing Christ’s triumph over death. During the Easter season we also celebrate Ascension Day and Pentecost. Ascension Day is the celebration of Christ’s Ascension to the Father. Pentecost is the Sunday we celebrate the pouring out the Spirit upon the Church. (April 12, 2009-May 31, 2009)

7. Ordinary Time/Pentecost Season/Trinity Season: There are several names for this longest portion of the church year. It runs from the day after Pentecost until the day before Advent. Here we celebrate the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The first Sunday of this period is Trinity Sunday, which the church celebrates the Holy Trinity. The color for this portion of the church year is green. (June 1, 2009-November 28, 2009)

No comments:

Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8