The Church Calendar
The church I attend follows the church year calendar or the liturgical year. This way of looking at the seasons is a bit different from the January through December block we normally use.
What is the Liturgical Year?
The church year calendar forms around the events in Jesus’ life. Then we too can center our lives, our worship, our spiritual formation around the lessons learned from walking and talking with Him.
I love seeing the colors in worship change with each season of the liturgical year. Purple, white, green, black, red, pink, gold and others decorate the pulpit and altar creating a reflective atmosphere and setting the stage for pondering our God.
Happy New Year begins not on January 1st, but on the first Sunday of Advent – the four Sundays before Christmas. Seeing the flow of time through the readings and observances from the Bible creates a powerful environment for worship.
The seasons moved from Advent, through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and then the ordinary or time after Pentecost. Special days such as Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, and Baptism of our Lord, are recognized among the seasons.
Liturgical calendars have been around since the 4th century, though various changes have been made to dates and recognition of different people and events. Many denominations follow the calendar today but dates of certain observances may differ.
Why Bother with the Liturgical Year?
- The church year gives me a framework to recapture the sense of wonder in worship and the colors and the celebrations enhance that awe.
- The change of colors invites me to consider how is God changing/transforming me.
- The rhythm of the year reminds me of God’s ever presence no matter the season or time in my life. The ever changing, yet evolving and growing cycle of birth, service and death brings me comfort, order and hope in a deepening faith.
- Special emphasis in each season wakes me up when I take the time to truly ponder its theme. For example, Advent focuses on hope, joy, longing preparation, waiting and Epiphany on light and guidance. What are those words stirring up within me?
- As I worship with the seasons, I am also worshipping with others who follow this calendar and with those who observed its time in the past and in the future too. I am united with the Body of Christ throughout the ages. The church year provides the structure for a collective memory or sharing together God’s amazing love for us.
- The church year calendar’s focus on Christ keeps my heart and eyes centered on him.
- Time transforms into a sacred gift when I ponder the church seasons. The value isn’t just in another time of year full of things to do and buy, but who that time is about.
“When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.” Eugene Peterson
The Church year – a simple pattern of seasons based on a powerful passage of God’s time.
How does the liturgical calendar nourish your faith?