Accord­ing to folk wis­dom, the third week of Jan­u­ary (at least in the West­ern Hemi­sphere) is the bluest time of the year. Drea­ry weath­er, failed New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, and sad­ness over the fad­ing of Christ­mas mem­o­ries (or the fail­ure to cre­ate the ones we want­ed) can all con­tribute to a gen­er­al sense of malaise. In Jan­u­ary, the cal­en­dar can seem more foe than friend.

But there is anoth­er kind of cal­en­dar, anoth­er way of keep­ing time. The Litur­gi­cal Cal­en­dar is a gift to us in that it plunges the seem­ing­ly ordi­nary march of our 24-hour days into a much rich­er and more endur­ing story.

In my non-litur­gi­cal church tra­di­tion, a church cal­en­dar’ is a list of youth group meet­ings and mem­bers’ birth­days, not an ancient rhythm of days and obser­vances,” our Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion, Car­olyn Arends, once con­fessed. But I’ve been learn­ing that many branch­es of Chris­tian­i­ty through­out the cen­turies have used litur­gi­cal time as a way of keep­ing believ­ers con­nect­ed to the real­i­ties of both life and death in the faith.

Cycling through Advent, Christ­mas, Epiphany, Lent, Pas­sion­tide, East­er, Ascen­sion, Pen­te­cost, and back through ordi­nary time’; to Advent again, Chris­tians are remind­ed that suf­fer­ing is an expect­ed part of human life, and, more impor­tant, that God is con­stant­ly redeem­ing that suf­fer­ing through his res­ur­rec­tion pow­er. I’m just begin­ning to dis­cov­er how help­ful the church cal­en­dar can be in cor­rect­ing and realign­ing my own expectations.” 

Liv­ing Seasonally

Here is how Ren­o­varé Min­istry Team mem­ber, Lacy Bor­go, invites us into this dif­fer­ent way of keep­ing time (via Good Dirt):

We are immers­ing our lives in the life of Jesus by cel­e­brat­ing the Sea­sons of the church. Anoth­er way to say it is that we are mark­ing our lives by the life of Jesus. The Chris­t­ian church began for­mal­ly cel­e­brat­ing East­er as ear­ly as 325 AD, and even before then Israel had sea­sons of fast­ing and feast­ing to mark their sto­ry with God through­out the ages. There is a great cloud of wit­ness­es that have gone before us.

The sea­sons fol­low a pat­tern of prepa­ra­tion, cel­e­bra­tion, and then liv­ing out what we have pre­pared for and cel­e­brat­ed. In Advent we pre­pare for God with us, at Christ­mas­tide we cel­e­brate God with us, and dur­ing Epiphany we step into a life with God. In Lent we pre­pare for our own death and the death of Jesus, at East­er­tide we cel­e­brate that he died, is risen and us with him; then dur­ing Pen­te­cost and King­domtide we live out his res­ur­rec­tion and ours.

We are meant to live sea­son­al­ly. Who can feast all the time with­out becom­ing a glut­ton? Who can fast or mourn all the time with­out los­ing their mind? When our days lose the gift of thank­ful­ness and cel­e­bra­tion we become a depressed and dying peo­ple. As the phys­i­cal sea­sons set the rhythm of the earth, so the church sea­son can set our rhythm to the rhythm of Christ.

There are sev­en main sea­sons of the church. The great diver­si­ty of our Chris­t­ian tra­di­tions means that some sea­sons are named slight­ly dif­fer­ent­ly and some dates are vari­able, but this is the over­all, mid­dle of the road, hap­py medi­um church calendar.

Sea­sons of the Church


Advent: Four weeks. Col­or: Roy­al Blue

Christ­mas­tide: Twelve days, until the eve of Epiphany on Jan­u­ary 5. Col­or: White

Epiphany: Eight weeks, give or take a few weeks depend­ing on when East­er falls; plus a lit­tle at the begin­ning and a lit­tle at the end to get us to Ash Wednes­day for Lent. Col­or: Green

Lent: Five weeks, plus a lit­tle at the begin­ning and a full week of Holy Week. Col­or: Purple

East­er­tide: Sev­en weeks up to Trin­i­ty Sun­day. Col­or: Gold or White

Pen­te­cost: One week, which is includ­ed in the first week of King­domtide. Col­or: Red

King­domtide (often called Ordi­nary Time): Twen­ty-Eight weeks, give or take a few weeks depend­ing on when East­er falls. Col­or: Green

Want to learn more about the Litur­gi­cal Calendar? 

We love this graph­ic from Third Church in Hen­ri­co, VA:

And this video from Christ Church Angli­can (Over­land Park and Mis­sion, KS) is help­ful too:

The Sto­ry … As Told Through the Chris­t­ian Cal­en­dar from Christ Church Angli­can on Vimeo.

Wor­ship lead­ers and plan­ners may espe­cial­ly appre­ci­ate the re:Worship blog:

Many thanks to Lacy Finn Bor­go of Good Dirt Fam­i­lies for the use of her Church cal­en­dar material.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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