We have now covered the entire year of the Christian church. As you have seen, there are times of great sadness and times of great joy. The church year is always Christ centered, for it is through Christ that baptized believers receive the greatest gift of all, God’s Grace.
Thank you for engaging in this discussion. The members, rather the Family, of Reformation invites you to join us on this seasonal journey, and to become followers of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Time After Pentecost
The period of the church year beginning on the 1st Sunday After Pentecost to the 1st Sunday in Advent is known simply as the “Time After Pentecost”, or “Ordinary Time”. This is a time that we, as Christians, learn to live life one day at a time. It is a time of no crisis, no conflict, no tragedy, just ordinary time. Each Sunday stands on its own, and we use this time to recall the importance of each and every Sunday, and every other day of the week.
When Christ ascended into Heaven, he had promised the disciples that He would be sending the Holy Spirit to them. In keeping with His promise, the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven 10 days after Christ’s Ascension, with the sound of a rushing wind. Suddenly there were tongues of fire above the head of each disciple, and each, being now filled with the Holy Spirit, began speaking in other languages, that everyone who was around them at that time could understand in their own native language. This is to fulfill, as it is written in Acts 2: “‘And in the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.” The color red plays an important role on this day. It symbolizes the color of the flames. Red flowers, usually geraniums, decorate the church. They symbolize renewal of life and the growth of the church from the original day of Pentecost.
Easter is one of the twelve Festivals in the church year. On this day we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ after His death on the cross on Good Friday. Easter is a time of rejoicing and light. Light is because Christ has risen and brought brought new life and hope to all who follow Him. It is one of the foundations of the Christian faith. The music and liturgy during the Easter service become much more joyful, and we finally, after the forty days of Lent, get to say “Alleluia”, which means “God be Praised”. The significance of this day for Christians cannot be overstated. Without Christ’s death and rebirth there would be no hope of life after death in heaven. Christ opened that doorway for us. He died so we didn’t have to. Easter is celebrated for 7 Sundays, the seventh Sunday being the Ascension of Our Lord, where Christ, in full view of His Apostles, rose into Heaven, promising the disciples that He would be sending the Holy Spirit, which happened on the Day of Pentecost.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!!!!!
Lent, in the church year, is the season of preparation for the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, our Savior and Lord. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends about six weeks later on Easter Sunday. During these weeks before Easter, Christians prepare themselves by fasting, repentance and prayer. Historically, Lent is described as being 40 days, as a remembrance of the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent in the desert early in his life.
The Transfiguration of Jesus
The Transfiguration of Jesus is considered the first of Jesus’ miracles. What makes this miracle even more significant is that it happens “to” Jesus. The Transfiguration signifies the bridging the gap between Heaven and Earth, this showing Jesus as both God and human.
Epiphany is the day we celebrate God being revealed as incarnate in the baby Jesus. The Bible tells us how three wise men from different countries followed the Star of Bethlehem to where the Christ child lay. Jesus is made known to the world as the Magi travel back to their homelands. Epiphany also celebrates the Baptism of Jesus.
Christmas – The birth of Jesus Christ
So, what does Christmas mean to you? Is it something you look forward to, or something you dread? Does it mean the same to you now as it did when you were 8 years old? in the 21st century, Christmas seems to have become two distinctly different holidays. which one is the “real” Christmas to you?
If you believe television, radio and Internet ads, Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving. The stores start blasting out full page advertisements for “Black Friday”. What is Black Friday, and why is it called Black Friday. If you are an accountant, a store owner or a banker, you would know that being in the “Black” means you’re making money. Many retailers report some of their highest profits on Black Friday. The black portion of the name, “Black Friday” relates to businesses recording their losses in red ink and gains in black. Have you noticed how Black Friday is creeping more and more to several weeks before the day after Thanksgiving?
Somewhere in this hustle and bustle, what Christmas really is has gotten lost somewhere in Aisle 3, or the Electronics department, or the car showroom. Despite it’s somewhat secular beginnings, to Christians around the world, Christmas is the annual celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is where we hear the amazing story of God’s gift to His people, His Son (often referred to as the Sun). It is a time to reflect on just how truly amazing this gift was.
Here are some facts that you may or may not know. No one really knows what date Christ was truly born on, but in the year A.D. 350, Pope Julius 1 officially declared December 25th as the date Christ was born. Alabama was the first state to officially recognize Christmas as a statewide holiday in 1836. It took the Federal government another 3 years before it was declared a national holiday. The poinsettia was cultivated by the Aztecs, who thought it’s bright read color symbolized purity. It was brought to the U.S. by John Poinset, thus giving it it’s name.
All this being said, as Christians, we hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it. The word Christmas means Christ’s mass. We celebrate God’s gift of Grace to us by giving His own son to be born and to die for us.
ADVENT – The first season in the Christian year.
In dictionaries, Advent is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”. In the Christian church, Advent is watching, waiting and preparing for the arrival of Christ, in both his birth and for his second coming. It is not a part of Christmas. It is a preparation for it, as the words in the above graphic note. Advent is usually the four week season before Christmas.
The origins of Advent are relatively unknown, but some believe it began as early as the late 400’s. Others say is goes all the way back to the time of the Twelve Apostles or it was founded by St. Peter himself. Whatever the origin of this season may be there are some things that remain consistent throughout the world.
The Advent Wreath –
An Advent wreath, which was originally a creation of the Lutheran church and not known in the U.S. until the 1930’s, is almost universally used in Christian churches. They can be very plain or highly ornate. However, they almost all have one thing in common. The wreath consists of a circle of evergreen boughs, which represent the God’s unending love for us, and five candles. The outer candles each have their own meaning: hope, love, joy and peace. The fifth, center candle, represents Christ. Each Sunday in Advent a new candle is lit, along with the others from the previous weeks, and a special Advent prayer is said as the candles are being lit. Different faiths use different colors for the candles. Purple or blue are the most frequently used, with white the color of the Christ candle.
World Traditions – Over the years other countries have developed their own traditions that are truly meaningful to them. Italians celebration includes the use of pifferari, or bagpipes, who play before the shrine of Mary. They believe that the the shepherds played these when they came to Bethlehem to honor the infant Jesus.
In the United States we use many of the practices first begun in Europe, such as the Advent wreath and the Advent calendar. Alpine European countries have children carrying a statue of St. Joseph to different homes, where it will spend the night then move on. On Christmas Eve, Joseph is put next to Mary in the stable. The Philippines, Advent is marked by attending Mass nine days in a row beginning on December 16th (or at least try to make a few of the daily masses). In Latin America, a “Novena to the Holy Child” is traditionally held. This was nine days of prayer. And, in China, colorful paper lanterns are hung in Christian homes during Advent.
When the church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, it is renewing the ancient expectancy of the Messiah, and His second coming. So be watching and prayerful. Prepare to rejoice and behold the birth of the Son of God.