Churches that are Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, UCC, United Methodist, Episcopalian, Moravian, are known as ‘liturgical’ churches-which means we use a structured order of worship (with ancient roots), and we use a lectionary that assigns the scripture readings for each Sunday and festival. It also means we celebrate seasons of the church ‘year’. (Non-denominational churches general do not shape worship in this way.) Here’s a quick tour of the church ‘year’!

Advent-means ‘coming’. The four Sundays leading up to Christmas help us prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth and help us look forward to his coming again at the end of time. Advent starts the church year!

Christmas-includes Christmas day and the next 1 or 2 Sundays before Epiphany.

Epiphany-means ‘revealing’, and starts January 6 (the 12th “day of Christmas”). We celebrate the story of the Magi coming to meet the baby Jesus and how he is revealed to be a king and the Light of the world. This seasons continues to Ash Wednesday.

Lent-the name comes from a word that means ‘springtime’ or ‘refreshment.’ It’s the 40 day period (not counting Sundays which are all considered ‘mini-Easters’) leading us to Easter joy! Lent is a time for turning back to God and focusing on what Christ’s death and resurrection mean for our lives. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, and that date depends on when Easter falls. Easter is the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (so it can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25).

Easter-is the high point of the church year! We celebrate the power of Christ’s resurrection for 7 weeks, leading up to Pentecost-the “50th day.” Ascension Day slips in there on the 40th day of Easter.

Pentecost-marks the day described in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit showed up powerfully in the lives of the disciples and the crowd of believers. We call it “the birthday of the church”. It’s the longest season of the church year, leading all through summer and fall, concluding with Christ the King Sunday.

What’s your favorite season or festival day in the Church Year?
What’s your favorite hymn to go along with that?