The Church Seasons

The Church Seasons


AdventFrom the Latin for “coming”; the four weeks before Christmas which constitute the first season of the liturgical year. It is a season of longing and anticipation, during which we prepare for the coming of Jesus. The church year begins with Advent, as life begins with birth, starting four Sundays before Christmas. The liturgical color for Advent is blue, which symbolizes waiting and hope.

ChristmasPrincipal festival of the church year which celebrates Christ’s birth or nativity; also known as the Nativity of Our Lord. It is a day and a season when we celebrate God’s coming among us as a human child: Jesus, Emmanuel, (which means “God with us”). The liturgical color for Christmas is white, which reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world. Christmas lasts 12 days, from December 25th to January 5th.

Epiphany Principal festival celebrated on January 6, marking the visit of the magi (three Wise Men) to Jesus and the consequent revelation of Christ to the world. The color for Epiphany Day is white. During the time after Epiphany we hear stories about Jesus baptism and early ministry. The color for these Sundays is sometimes green. On the last Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration. The color for this day is white and we hear the story of Jesus shining brightly on the mountaintop.

Lent From the Anglo-Saxon for “spring”; the penitential 40 day season (excluding Sundays) before Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Symbolic of Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness. Lent is a season when we turn toward God and think about how our lives need to change. This is also a time to remember our baptism, and how that gift give us a new start every day! The color for Lent is purple, symbolizing repentance.

Ash Wednesday – First day of Lent; occurs between February 4 and March 10. Name comes from the traditional practice of placing ashes on worshipers’ forehead in the shape of the cross.

Palm Sunday – The first day of Holy Week. Observes both Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion.

Holy Week – The week between the Palm Sunday and Easter, which recalls the events of the last days of Christ’s life.

Maundy Thursday – From the Latin “mandatum” for “commandment”; the Thursday in Holy Week which observes the institution of the Holy Communion at the Last Supper, during which Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another. The story of Jesus’ last meal with the disciples and his act of service and love in washing their feet.

Good Friday – The Friday in Holy Week that observes Christ’s crucifixion, death and burial. The chancel and altar are bare of all appointments, paraments and linens.

Easter Vigil – Festive liturgy on Easter Eve that includes the lighting of the paschal candle, readings from the Scripture, Holy Baptism with the renewal of baptismal vows and Holy Communion. We hear stories about the amazing things God has done for us. It is the night of light, Scripture readings, baptismal remembrance and communion – the greatest night of the year for Christians.

Easter – Principal festival of the church year which celebrates Christ’s resurrection and our new lives in Christ. Easter Day (which occurs between March 22 and April 25) is known as the Resurrection of Our Lord and as the “queen of feasts”. The Easter season lasts for 50 days (including Sundays). The color is white, symbolizing resurrection and joy.

PentecostFrom the Greek for “fiftieth day” principal festival of the church year, occurring 50 days after Easter. Celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem. We honor the Holy Spirit and the church’s mission in the world. This day uses the fiery color of red.

The time after Pentecost is the longest season in the church year calendar, lasting almost half the year. Sometimes this is call “ordinary time” because there aren’t many special celebrations during these weeks. The liturgical color for the time after Pentecost is green, representing life and growth. Each week we hear a different story about Jesus’ ministry from one of the four gospels.