Liturgical Calendar

The Liturgical Calendar

Advent

Liturgical Color: Blue
During the seasons of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany (sometimes referred to as a “cycle”), we move theologically from expectant hope to realized joy. Advent, the beginning of the church year, is normally marked by the four Sundays preceding Christmas Eve and focuses our attention on the promise of a Messiah, the Messiah’s actual coming and the coming of Christ at the end of time. The Christmas season (or Christmastide) consists of twelve days that begins with the “lessons, carols and candles” of Christmas Eve and ends with Epiphany. On Christmas Eve and the Sundays of Christmastide, we light the Christ Candle to signify the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Epiphany (which means “manifestation” or “appearance”) is January 6. The season of Epiphany continues until Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Epiphany celebrates the appearance of Jesus to the wise men from the East as well as Jesus’ baptism and his early ministry.

Epiphany

Liturgical Color: White
During the seasons of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany (sometimes referred to as a “cycle”), we move theologically from expectant hope to realized joy. Advent, the beginning of the church year, is normally marked by the four Sundays preceding Christmas Eve and focuses our attention on the promise of a Messiah, the Messiah’s actual coming and the coming of Christ at the end of time.

The Christmas season (or Christmastide) consists of twelve days that begins with the “lessons, carols and candles” of Christmas Eve and ends with Epiphany (January 6). On Christmas Eve and the Sundays of Christmastide, we light the Christ Candle to signify the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Epiphany (which means “manifestation” or “appearance”) is January 6 and is usually observed on the Sunday nearest that date. The season of Epiphany continues until Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Epiphany celebrates the appearance of Jesus to the wise men from the East as well as Jesus’ baptism and his early ministry.

Transfiguration Sunday:

Liturgical Color: White
At the heart of Transfiguration Sunday is the question, “Who is this Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and now is steadfastly headed for Jerusalem?” The lections for this Sunday are intended to affirm that this Jesus is the One who by being crucified and raised will fulfill all the scriptures have promised. Thus, just before the opening of Lent, the transfiguration narrative presents subtle clues to the content of the Forty Days of Devotion and Discipline preceding Easter or Resurrection Sunday and the Great Fifty Days of rejoicing that follow.

Lent:

Liturgical Color: Purple
Lent (an Anglo Saxon word meaning “spring”) is a forty day season of reflection and preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days since Sundays are always a celebration of the resurrection. At the start of Lent (the tone of which is set by Ash Wednesday), we are more fully aware of disobedience as our focus. By the close of the Forty Days (the tone of which is set by Palm-Passion Sunday and the approach of the Triduum [Holy/Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday]), we are more keenly attuned to the benefits of divine redemption. We begin by stressing penitence: an acknowledgement of our rebellion against God and our alienation from God’s whole creation. We move on to the fruits of repentance: the amendment of life that results when we turn around and by God’s grace head in a new direction.

The Season of Easter

Liturgical Color: White
The “ high and holy” time of Holy Week culminates in the Season of Easter, sometimes known as the Great Fifty Days, because it is a fifty-day celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. This is a season of great astonishment, celebration, and joy, and the Easter or paschal candle is lit each Sunday of the season.

The central significance of the resurrection to the followers of Jesus is dramatized in the Church through the annual observance of Resurrection Sunday, through Easter’s weekly celebration on each Sunday of the season, and in the fifty-day season of Easter.

The season ends with the day of Pentecost when the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church is celebrated.

Pentecost

Liturgical Color: Red
Liturgical Color: Green
Sometimes called the birthday of the church, because it was a time when the followers of Christ bonded together into a body, ignited with the Holy Spirit, and prepared to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:1-42). Into the midst of the disciples’ searching for direction, the Holy Spirit came to their aid, just as Jesus had promised. This day is a celebration of hope and renewal, of holy purpose and mission, and the zeal of the church.

Trinity Sunday

Liturgical Color: White
This is a special day in the church calendar when we focus attention on the holiness and perfect wholeness (or completeness) of God. When reference is made to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Church is trying in feeble, finite language to express the grandeur and manifold richness of God’s infinite and eternal nature.

Season after Pentecost

Liturgical Color: Green
The Season after Pentecost begins with the day after Pentecost and continues until Advent. During the Season after Pentecost, emphasis is generally focused on the quality of our personal and spiritual lives as well as our growth in the Christian life. More specifically, it is a time to meditate upon our empowerment through the Holy Spirit to be instruments of God’s grace and peace in our homes, community and world. This is a time to reflect on creation and what it means to be created by God and to be co-creators with God. This is a season for learning about our faith as we discover whether we have “eyes that will see” and “ears that will hear” and try our best to follow Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the ways of justice, peace, and loving service.

Reign of Christ Sunday:

Liturgical Color: White
Reign of Christ is not only the last Sunday of the Season after Pentecost but also marks the end of the church year as well. Established in the 20th century in the face of the rise of fascism, it emphasizes that our first and foremost allegiance is to the risen and reigning Christ and points to the significant difference between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world as that difference informs our daily living and ethical choices. This day completes the annual Christian journey through the life of Christ Jesus on earth and in heaven which began with the preparation for the birth of Jesus in Advent last year. As this year’s transition into Advent, the Sunday devoted to the reign of Christ enables us to grasp more fully the Advent promise of the One who shall be called “The Prince of Peace” and presses upon us the need to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11).

Liturgical Colors:

Blue is the color of hopeful expectation and royalty and is, therefore, appropriate to symbolize the general Advent theme: The Christ is coming.

Green symbolizes life, growth, hope and the Christian life and is used in the Seasons after the Epiphany and after Pentecost, spans of time usually referred to as Ordinary Time. During these seasons, special days call for the use of white or red.

Purple is a color signifying pain and suffering, which bring grief and patience. It is also the color of royalty.

Red is used on the Day of Pentecost and at other times when the work of the Holy Spirit is emphasized and symbolizes fire, blood, energy and movement, the “tongues of fire,” and the Holy Spirit.

White is generally considered a joyous and festive color and is used on special days such as Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration, Trinity, All Saints and Reign of Christ. This color is virtually always used with weddings and funerals. White symbolizes divinity, purity, holiness, joy, innocence and victory.