This is one of those pieces of traditional church that one could easily miss. However, if you know what you are looking for, you can immediately tell if the church will do certain things during their worship. (i.e. do a call to worship.)
While not a promise, a church that follows the liturgical calendar will present colors for each of the seasons. They will do this by covering the place where the worship leader, and pastor will speak. They will also drape the communion table. Back when I told you what to expect from meditations, I told you what each of these colors mean. Today, I want to tell you about each season:
The Calendar begins with Advent. Advent is the preparatory time before Christmas. You know you are preparing for something because the colors will be purple. (Or sometimes light blue.) Often, Advent Calendars begin December 1. However, Advent actually begins the four Sundays before Christmas. More on Advent later.
Next is Christmas. Christmas only begins on December 25th. You know that song, the 12 days of Christmas? Well, that's how long Christmas lasts. It's called Epiphany, and symbolizes the wait between the birth and when the Magi showed up.
This leads in to Ordinary Time. Ordinary time happens twice in a Christian year. There are no grand celebrations or events during this time. It's a time of hope and reflection. Let's call it pasture time, since the green symbolizes green grass.
Next is Lent. Lent begins the 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays. Like I mentioned above, it's purple, so it's a time to prepare. We should be getting in touch with our mortality, and our sinful nature. Seriously, I've read at least three pastoral blogs saying we should put aside the ashes of Ash Wednesday (I wrote both about Lent and Ash Wednesday just last week.) because Jesus' life is all about the celebration of Easter. I couldn't be more frustrated with a sentiment related to the Christian Calendar. The Resurrection is only as beautiful as the death is tragic. Lent prepares us to accept that there is always something about us that needs to die. We live in that tragic death, until we accept the new life in Christ.
This, of course, leads to Easter. Like Christmastime, we enter an Eastertime. Easter is the celebration of new life through Jesus Christ. This is the highest, most important time in the Christian year. It can only be so important because of everything that has happened before it.
Easter ends, and brings us to Pentecost. It is the celebration of the Holy Spirit lighting on the Disciples. At Pentecost we remember the Disciples became Apostles. (These are words saying the students became the teachers and leaders.)
This leads us back to Ordinary or Pasture time, where we hope until a new year begins again with Advent.