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Church Seasons

Seasons of the Church Year

The Calendar is our way of marking the seasons of the church's year. The church's year begins on Advent Sunday, the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Then follow the seasons of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and finally the great teaching period of the year, the Sundays after Pentecost, called Ordinary Time.

Advent

The four Sundays of Advent are those immediately before Christmas Day. The name "Advent" is derived from the Latin, adventus, 'coming,' ie of Christ. The season is observed as a time of preparation not only for Christmas, but also for the Second Coming of Christ, as Judge at the Last Day.

The liturgical colour is the same as Lent, penitential purple.

"He is coming to reconcile and forgive. Christ is the new beginning." NZPB

Christmas

The feast of Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and the central Christian teaching that in this new-born child our God took human flesh and became one of us - the incarnation.

"For Christ is born in Bethlehem. God revealed in human form, the baby in a manger, the refugee on the Egypt road". NZPB

Epiphany

The Festival of the Epiphany is celebrated by the Church on 6 January, twelve days after Christmas. Epiphany also describes the period of the Church's calendar between 6 January and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The seasonal colour is green.

"His star, mysterious and inviting, calls us to worship the Christ who is born. For he is Emmanuel, God revealed in human form for all the human race; to him we offer our homage and our gifts." NZPB

Lent

Lent is a period of intense preparation for Easter. It's also called the "forty days" - there are forty week days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Day.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent, and as Easter Day varies from year to year according to the phases of the moon, so Ash Wednesday never falls in exactly the same week each year.

In more recent times Christians have marked the season of Lent by being more rigorous in their spiritual lives: by reading the Bible more attentively; paying closer attention to their daily prayers; giving money to worthy causes; or giving up something enjoyable so as to sharpen its value when renewed at Easter. Church members are expected to prepare themselves for Easter in the same way that they prepared themselves for baptism or confirmation.

At worship the liturgical colour is penitential purple.

"His cross has given us strength and freedom to enter by the narrow gate, to choose the path of life, and in these forty days to share his trials." NZPB

Making Palm Crosses [PDF]

Easter - The Great Fifty Days

In Jesus' death on the cross and his rising again, we celebrate the central events of the Christian faith. Through his death and resurrection Jesus restores the relationship between God and all of us, offering us forgiveness from sin and opening the way to new life with God.

In the Christian tradition Easter is more than one day. It is a whole fifty days of celebration covering the period from Easter Day until Pentecost.

In our calendar Easter Day is the Sunday after the first full moon of spring (in the northern hemisphere). It therefore falls between March 22 and April 25.

Easter is a time to join together with other Christian friends to party, to celebrate, to enjoy each others company, to reaffirm our identity as followers of the Risen Jesus. Easter reminds us that no matter how black and hopeless our situations might seem to be, in the end we are sustained by the life-giving Christ, who promises us new life with him.

At worship the liturgical colour is white or gold.

"Christ is risen from the dead. Love is come again: Christ is sovereign over space and time." NZPB

The Ascension

The Ascension of Christ, that is the movement of Christ into heaven, was witnessed by the apostles. It is commemorated on the sixth Thursday (the fortieth day) of Easter. The liturgical colour for this festival is white.

Its theological significance is that Christ's human nature was taken into heaven, where he reigns over all things, both in heaven and earth. Christ is not absent but is present in a new way. He is at the centre of all things and all things are in him.

"Christ is the universal King who calls his servants friends. He is the Lord." NZPB

Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday at St Mark'sPentecost is the fiftieth day of Easter, and commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Pentecost ranks immediately after Easter as the second most important festival in the Church. On the day of Pentecost the disciples experienced the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Sprit are such things as wisdom, faith, healing, prophesy, discernment and tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Pentecost marked the birth of the Church as the new people of God.

The liturgical colour for Pentecost is red.

"Through the Holy Spirit nations, races, and languages are called to welcome the great things you have done. Through the Holy Spirit you have brought the good news to our land." NZPB

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is the Sunday immediately after Pentecost. The feast of the Holy Trinity remembers and celebrates one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The liturgical colour for Trinity Sunday is white.

"Trinity of love, maker of man and woman in your image, help us to accept ourselves as we are, and to know our need for each other." NZPB

Sundays after Pentecost

Altar frontal at St Andrew'sThe Sundays after Pentecost link the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the celebration of the final Advent or "Second Coming" when Christ will come in glory. This leads into a celebration of the first coming of Christ at Christmas and the cycle returns to its beginning. It is in these Sundays after Pentecost that we actually live - that is, in the period between the incarnation of God in Christ and our future life with God in heaven.

This teaching part of the Church's year is not related to the natural seasons, but to the gradual unfolding of the gospel's insight into the meaning of the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a time for reflection and continued growth in study of the Scriptures and our encounter with God.

The liturgical colour for this season is green with all its connotations of new life and growth.

Almighty God,
give us such a vision of your purpose
and such an assurance of your love and power,
that we may ever hold fast the hope
which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen NZPB

A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa
www.onslowanglicans.org.nz/seasons.html