The new church year has begun. Happy New Year! The church calendar flipped the page onto a new cycle of readings and messages and music beginning last Sunday.
I love following the church year. The rhythm. The pattern. The framework for learning, listening, and being shaped by God.
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. 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.
The new church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, the time of preparing for the birth of Jesus. And we will begin anew the ancient pattern of days, the circle of the Church Year. We follow the way to Bethlehem during Advent. Then we celebrate the birth of the Jesus on Christmas. We remember the stories of how he grows from a baby into a man throughout the stories of the season of Epiphany.
During Lent we turn again to preparing, but this time not for his birth but for his death. And then thankfully there is Easter to celebrate. And we do that until the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. The day we remember that Jesus did not leave us here high and dry but sent the Holy Spirit amongst us. And then we hit the LONG season of the Season after Pentecost. It is almost impossibly long.
This season is sometimes called Ordinary season since the Sundays are numbered as in an ordinal pattern. But I also like to remember the lessons during this time are focused on how we live each ordinary day as followers of Christ. How am I growing to be more like Jesus in the moments, everyday interactions, and in our routines, habits, and normal day to day living?
Pentecost amounts to a whole lot of Sundays. Like half the calendar year of them. It seems that someone had the wisdom to know that it would take us an incredibly long time to grow into the mysteries of Christmas and Easter. For 27 Sundays in a row, we hear stories inviting us to grow into a bigger understanding of the Kingdom of God.
I see our spiritual journey like a spiral, coming round and round to some of some spaces over and over again, but hopefully at a different point on the spiral with new insights and perspective. God continues to shape all of us – a little pruning there. Some new clay added on one side for strength and growth. Gentle molding of our lives and hearts to be more like the Master Artist always full of grace and love.
Do you follow the church year and how does it impact your faith?
Linda Stoll says
Jean, thank you for this lovely ode to the church year, the rhythm, the beauty, the significance to our faith. The seasons come and go, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What hope and peace we have in Him!
Merry Christmas, friend. Thank you for the way you continue to enlarge my borders …
I love the rhythm of the church year – it holds me, grounds me, directs me. Yes yes to your word about seasons and the ever lasting God!
Nancy Ruegg says
Are you familiar with Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s book, The Circle of the Seasons (InterVarsity Press, 2008)? She subtitled it, Meeting God in the Church Year. She too revels in the reminders and lessons of each season, how they enable us “to enter together into the very life of God as he enters into life with us” (p. 16). I’m quite sure you’d highlight as many excerpts as I have!
No I didn’t know that book and just ordered it through the library, Thanks for sharing Nancy!
Pat Forsman says
The church year seems to mirror our own lives…..births…deaths….anticipation…grief…helping others…(like you do)..ordinary days….changing seasons…all familiar and comforting……….Peace be with you jean…
peace to you too Pat. And you share a great point – mirrors our lives too
Martha J Orlando says
Sorry I didn’t visit with you last week, Jean, but we have been delightfully busy with travel and grandchildren. Yes, I love the rhythm of the church year as it invites us over and over to grow closer to our Lord and Savior.
Have a blessed Advent!
miss you too but glad you got to travel and see those grandkids.
Clayton Micallef says
I like how you put it that the church year is like a journey into the life of Jesus it like through the church year we have a direct link or connection into the life of Jesus.
I think that is one reason why I love the church year calendar so much. Keeps me connected to Jesus’ story and the good news and how it continually shapes my life. Gives me hope to keep showing up!
Clayton Micallef says
Yes to keep showing up and when we show up with all our inequities and trust in grace Jesus shows up there besides us. Sometimes I feel as if he is here holding my hand.