Earlier this week, we talked about the church calendar, how it marks our passage of time through the world, giving us ritual and meaning to gather around. We discussed the winter seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Today we’ll complete the circle by detailing the spring and summer seasons.
Lent marks the journey off of the Transfiguration mountain towards Jerusalem and the cross. Jesus’ glory and wonderful teachings were not revealed for their own sake, nor to make him look good to our eyes. Jesus came to save us. During Lent we remember that we need saving; that nothing in this world is perfect, nor are we. We repent of the ways we distract ourselves, rebel, and fail to do good in the world. We discipline ourselves to take a hard look at our lives, not because we can fix ourselves, but because we know Jesus walks through our darkest moments, that the cross finds us not in perfection, but in pain.
Lent ends with The Three Days: Maundy Thursday, when we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ command to us to love each other, Good Friday, when we commemorate his death on the cross, and Easter Morning, when we celebrate his resurrection to new life everlasting.
Easter lasts for 50 days, even longer than the 40 of Lent. During Easter we hear about renewal, hope springing from emptiness, life blossoming where we thought none could grow. We find that death, sorrow, and loss are only temporary, but love is forever. We, like the disciples, soar with joy at the news that goodness is our ultimate destiny. That destiny cannot be taken away by any evil or pain the world brings.
Easter ends with the Sunday of Pentecost, marking the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples and inspiring them to share God’s good news. During Pentecost, we remember all the ways Jesus showed love, helped others, lifted up the lowly, comforted the afflicted, and taught people about God’s passion for them. Pentecost Sunday happens in May or June, and the season of Pentecost lasts through fall. Themes of Pentecost include service, mission, growth, and sharing God’s word.
Pentecost ends with Christ the King Sunday, when we remember that all things in the world will end, but that God remains and calls us beyond the lives we know into the lives we were meant to have. After the End, the calendar begins once again with Advent and anticipation!
The journey through the church calendar is never the same twice. Advent begins on December 1st this year. Feel free to join us as we walk the year together!
Ep. 45 - Zacchaeus was a wee little man, but was he more than that? Justin and Dave unpack the boxes we put scripture into, investigating the huge transformation in Luke 19.
The Geek and Greek podcast is a show where two reverends talk honestly and clearly about faith, Christianity, scripture, and life.
Follow us at GeekAndGreek.com!
As autumn turns towards winter and Halloween towards Christmas, I’m always reminded of the change in our liturgical church year. Lutheran churches usually follow a calendar, marking the passing of time in the church story much as your regular calendar marks time during the year. The church calendar isn’t a law; we are free to celebrate times as days as we wish. Observing the seasons of the church year helps keep us together and reminds us that our lives flow through a universe bigger than we are.
Here are the seasons of the year, with a brief explanation for each.
Advent begins our church calendar. It starts in late November and early December. During Advent we hear stories about the end of old things and the beginning of something new. That newness comes to us with the arrival of the baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. The themes of Advent are announcements, anticipation, and keeping alert.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. It often includes the few stories we have from Jesus’ young days: Jesus’ welcome at the temple as a babe, Jesus teaching there as a youth, or King Herod slaughtering the innocents of Bethlehem trying to snuff out Jesus’ kingship before it even started. Giving, fulfillment of prophecy, and the ills of the world are themes of the Christmas season.
Epiphany explores how people come to recognize Jesus and his purpose. The first to do so are the Magi (Wise Men) at the manger, but many others follow. The Epiphany season includes Jesus’ baptism, his first miracles, and his basic teachings. God reveals God’s self to the world through actions and words. Epiphany themes include discovery, exploration, and interpretation through metaphors of water, salt, light…basic, earthly things that convey deep meaning. Epiphany ends with Transfiguration Sunday, where Jesus is explicitly revealed to his disciples on top of a mountain as they see him “dazzling white”, in heavenly glory.
Next time: the final three seasons of the church year!