All churches have a liturgy – even Christian Fellowship! Ours is not the traditional liturgy, but all Christians shape their faith on traditional liturgy. How, you may ask. The Liturgical Calendar is how the church recognizes the historical and theological events of Christian history. Christmas and Easter are part of the liturgical calendar. It would be inconceivable for us to ignore these two holidays!
There are seven seasons of the liturgical calendar and each is designed to direct us in faith and worship. These seven seasons are:
- ADVENT – The season of the four Sundays leading to Christmas. Advent is Latin for ‘coming’. The church calendar year begins on the 1st Sunday of Advent. It is a season of preparation and expectation. We understand it as the expectation of Christ coming via the Nativity, but did you know Advent is also about the second coming of Christ again in power and glory?
- CHRISTMAS DAY – One of the seven principle feast days of the church. Can you name the other six? (See the end of this blog for the answer). Christmas Day starts the 12 days of the Christmas season – hence, the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is of course the celebration of Christ’s birth, but it continues up to the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 6).
- EPIPHANY – is the celebration of the ‘manifestations’ or ‘epiphanies’ of Jesus’ Divinity i.e. His birth, the coming of the Magi, His baptism, the wedding of Cana – where he performs his first miracle. The Lord’s baptism is celebrated the Sunday after Epiphany.
- LENT – is the season of self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and reading God’s Word. This season takes place in a six week period from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Included in the Lenten season is Holy Week:
- Palm Sunday,
- Holy Thursday (also called Maundy Thursday – Maundy means ‘command’ as in, ‘A new commandment I give to you, love one another),
- Good Friday,
- Holy Saturday.
- EASTER – We all know this one. It includes the Resurrection, the Christian Passover, and is considered the 8th day of cosmic creation. In other words, that 8th day is the first day of new creation. That’s a powerful thought to reflect upon!
- PENTECOST – The Easter Season begins on Easter and continues over the next fifty days leading up to Pentecost. Included in this season is the Ascension of Jesus. Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church – from the least to the greatest – to empower us to do and live the will and life of God.
- THE SEASON AFTER PENTECOST – this season lasts seven months and includes a number of other celebrations including Trinity Sunday which takes place one week after Pentecost Sunday.
Even if you have not grown up under the liturgical calendar it is good for us to recognize that every church has a connection to the historical Christian faith. It is good for us to realize our faith is a continuation of the faith of believers throughout the running centuries. Christianity is an historical faith with real people in real locations in a fixed place in time.
It is important for us to realize our faith is more than just our personal or private faith. We are connected to the Church through time. In other words, it is good for us to realize we are connected to something bigger, higher, greater, than ourselves.
(The 7 principle feasts: Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints Day.)