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

churchseasons

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:

    

Lent is on the Horizon

Lent begins March 1st this year, and offers a powerful way to live in sync with God’s story. Renovaré offers thoughtful guides through the season of reflection and repentance on our Lent Resources page. 

We commend to you especially Kai Nilsen’s two Renovaré Lenten devotionals, Engage and Less is More. These work well as guides for individuals, and they are also available in bulk at a discount for churches and small groups.

For a limited time, we are also offering downloadable e-book versions of the Renovaré Lenten guides free with any size donation. It is our way to say thank-you for your faithful support.

We hope that, whatever your denominational traditions, you will find added richness in your walk this year through connecting to the ancient rhythms of our Christian faith.

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

Learn more >

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